Catholic Social Teaching

What is Catholic Social Teaching?

Catholic Social Teaching "is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society" (United States Catholic Bishops, "Themes of Catholic Social Teaching").  It "is the Gospel in action, compassion on the pavement, and the deeply hallowed conviction that every person has inherent and transcendent worth, fashioned in the image and likeness of God. ... It provides a lens through which to examine the most vexing and complex problems and challenges in modern society" (Bishop George Leo Thomas, "The Fifth Force," Carroll College Baccalaureate Mass, 11 May 2013).

The U.S. Catholic Bishops have summarized the main principles of Catholic Social Teaching as (1) the life and dignity of the human person; (2) the call to family, community, and participation; (3) the protection of rights and meeting responsibilities; (4) the option for the poor and vulnerable; (5) the dignity of work and the rights of workers; (6) solidarity; and (7) care for God's creation.

See the U.S. Bishops' websites on Catholic Social Teaching and Justice, Peace, and Human Development.

While teaching on ethical and moral matters dates to the origins of the Church, the modern era of Catholic Social Teaching begins with the encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII in 1891.  Important documents on Catholic Social Teaching are:

Papal Encyclicals

Second Vatican Council

U.S. Catholic Bishops

Other Important Documents

Important Web Pages on Catholic Social Teaching

The Catholic Church has summarized its social teaching in "The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church."