Catholic Social Teachings

Catholic Social Teachings

Summary Statement on Catholic Social Teachings

The phrase "Catholic Social Teaching" refers to major themes addressed in church documents from the late 19th century on. It is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person: The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation: People have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
  • Rights and Responsibilities: Every person has a fundamental right to life and to those things required for human decency; with reciprocal duties to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: In a world marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, the needs of the poor and vulnerable must come first.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: The economy must serve people, not the other way around. The basic rights of workers must be respected-- the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
  • Solidarity: We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.
  • Care for God's Creation: We show our respect for the Creator by stewardship of creation.

(Excerpts from Publication No. 5-315 from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, D.C., Copyright 2005.)

In his 2014 book on Mercy, Cardinal Walter Kasper, highlights a documents by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritatis in Veritate (Charity in Truth), that shows that love is the basic principle anchoring the above themes because the human vocation lies in our active response to God's calling us into being through relationships with others. It precedes rational reflection on abstract principles of justice and issues forth from the experience of compassion. 

Catholic Social Teachings is a systematic expression of the faith ethics exemplified in the first Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Their encounter with God in ministering to the sick and the poor displays the heartfelt response to suffering in our world today that UIW expects of its graduates.