Catholic Social Teaching: Themes

Relatedness of the Religious and Social Dimensions of Life. The "social" – the human construction of the world – is not "secular" in the sense of being outside of God's plan, but is intimately involved with the dynamic of the Reign of God. Therefore faith and justice are necessarily linked together.


Dignity of the Human Person. Made in the image of God, all human persons are sacred. Every person possesses an inalienable dignity regardless of gender, race, class, or other human categorizations. Human dignity can be recognized and protected only in community with others. One of the most fundamental questions to ask about social development is: What is happening to people?


Option for the Poor. A preferential love should be shown to poor people, whose needs and rights are given special attention in God's eyes. "Poor" is understood to refer to the economically disadvantaged who, as a consequence of their status, suffer oppression and powerlessness.


Political and Economic Rights. All human persons enjoy inalienable rights, which are political/legal [e.g. food, shelter, work education]. These are realized in community. Essential for the promotion of justice and solidarity, these rights are to be respected and protected by all the institutions of society.


Link of Love and Justice. Love of neighbor demands justice; charity must manifest itself in actions and structures which respect human dignity, protect human rights, and facilitate human development. To promote justice is to transform structures which block love.


Promotion of the Common Good. The common good is the sum total of all those conditions of social living – economic, political, and cultural – which make it possible for women and men to readily and fully achieve the perfection of their humanity. Individual rights are always experienced within the context of promotion of the common good. 


Subsidiarity. Responsibilities and decisions should be attended to as close as possible to the level of individual initiative in local communities and institutions. Mediating structures of families, neighborhoods, community groups, small businesses, and local governments should be participated in and promoted. But larger government structures do have a role when greater social coordination and regulation are necessary for the common good.     <<MORE>>



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