Catholic social teaching emerges from the truth of what God has revealed to us about himself. We believe in the triune God whose very nature is communal and social. God the Father sends his only Son Jesus Christ and shares the Holy Spirit as his gift of love. God reveals himself to us as one who is not alone, but rather as one who is relational, one who is Trinity. Therefore, we who are made in God's image share this communal, social nature. We are called to reach out and to build relationships of love and justice.
Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.
Our commitment to the Catholic social mission must be rooted in and strengthened by our spiritual lives. In our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart that is necessary to truly love one another as God has loved us. -- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"Five practical suggestions regarding the application of Catholic social teaching" courtesy of Fr. Thomas Williams, Theology Dean at Regina Apostolorum.
- Education - Read and have good, precise knowledge of the Church's social teachings, to be able to expound them with assurance and clarity, and make sure that what we teach in the name of the Church is effectively what the Church teaches, and not our own personal opinions.
- Humility - So as not to have to jump from general principles to definitive concrete judgments, especially when expressed in a categorical and absolute manner. We should not go beyond the limitations of our own knowledge and specific competence.
- Realism - in assessing the human condition, acknowledging sin but leaving room for the action of God's grace. In the midst of our commitment to human development, never lose sight that man's vocation is above all to be a saint and enjoy God for eternity.
- Caution - So as to avoid the temptation of using the Church's social doctrine as a weapon for judging "others" (entrepreneurs, politicians, multinational companies, etc.). We should instead concentrate first on our own lives and our personal, social, economic and political responsibilities.
- Cooperation - Know how to closely cooperate with lay people, forming them and sending them out as evangelizers of the world. They are the true experts in their fields of competence and have the specific vocation of transforming temporal realities according to the Gospel.
The Social Encyclicals of the Catholic Church
Pope Leo XIII
- Rerum Novarum. Enyclical of on Capital & Labor. Issued May 15, 1891.
Pope Pius XI
- Quadragesimo Anno: On the Reconstruction of the Social Order. Issued May 15, 193
Pope John XXIII
- Mater Et Magistra. Encyclical on Christianity and Social Progress. May 15, 1961.
Pope John Paul II
- Ecclesia in America. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Jan. 22, 1999.
- Laborem Exercens: On Human Work. Enyclical of Pope John Paul II. Issued on September 14, 1981
- Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: "On Social Concerns": On the Twentieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio. Issued on December 30, 1987.
- Centesimus Annus: The Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum. Issued on May 1, 1991
Pope Benedict XVI
- Deus Caritas Est Issued December 25, 2005.
- Spe Salvi Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on November 30, 2007.
- Gaudium Et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on Dec. 7, 1965.
- Dignitatis Humanae: Declaration on Religious Freedom Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on Dec. 7, 1965.
From the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Nov. 24, 2002.
- Reactions & Commentary on 'Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life'
- Importance and current validity of the document, by Cardinal Joachim Meisner
Archbishop of Cologne. L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English. 22 January 2003, page 7.
- Catholic Culture for True Humanism, by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi. Archbishop of Bologna. L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English. 22 January 2003, page 7.
- Secularism, Morality & Politics, by Prof. John Finnis. L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English. 29 January 2003, page 9.
- Doctrinal Note: An Overview, by Fr. Réal Tremblay, C.SS.R. L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English 12 February 2003, page 9.
Instruction on Christian Freedom & Liberation. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. March 22, 1986.