Catholic Social Teaching

The Catholic Church’s social teaching is a rich tradition -expressed through papal encyclicals, conciliar, and episcopal documents- which speaks to our duty to build a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Seven key themes follow:

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

This first theme creates the basis to which all other social teaching is built upon. All human life is sacred, made in the image of God, and therefore holds an inherent dignity. In our times, we must confront issues of abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and war, which directly threaten life. We believe that humans are to be valued, more than things, and that every institution’s principles must be to enhance the life and dignity of all people. (John 4:1-42)

Call to Family, Community, and Participation

Families are central social institutions that strengthen our society. How we organize our society, through economics and politics, directly affects the human dignity of people. People not only have a right to participate in society, but a duty, to work towards the common good and well-being of all, particularly the poor and vulnerable. (James 2:14-18)

Rights and Responsibilities

Only if human rights are protected and responsibilities fulfilled, can the human dignity of persons be respected. Every person has a right to life and human decency. Basic rights include: the right an adequate living standard of living (food, clean water, education, housing, medical care, and social services), religious freedom, expression, dignified work, etc. (Isaiah 1:16-17)

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

As a society, we must place the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. We must create conditions so that marginalized voices are heard, the defenseless are defended, and assess societal decisions by way of their impact on the poor and vulnerable. (Matthew 25:34-40)

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 fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. (James 5:1-6)


We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

Care for God’s Creation

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation, and it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. The most pressing of environmental concerns is climate change. (Genesis 2:15)