Key Themes in Catholic Social Teaching




Questions for consideration this week:

  1. What is the function of Catholic Social Teaching and how do we implement it in our lives?
  2. How can we best make use of the See, Judge, Act model?
  3. The Common Good seeks the good of all while also seeking our personal fulfilment: is there a tension here and how can we respond to it?
  4. How can we promote greater Participation and Solidarity in society for the achievement of Justice?
  5. How can we change our attitude towards seeing Care for Creation as an expression of solidarity with all life rather than merely the preservation of human society?

Consider each question above as it pertains concretely to our lives.

You are most welcome to join us next Tuesday, 16th April, 2019 to take part in our discussion. For more details click here : OLA Lenten Justice Mornings 2019

The role of Catholic Social Teaching

Living justly means living faithfully to a right relationship with God, our fellow human beings and with creation itself.

We are called to orient ourselves constantly to the vision we see in the Bible and make the Kingdom of God present where we live and work.

According to Gaudium et Spes, the seminal document of the Second Vatican Council, the Church stands with every man and woman of every place and time, and makes the teachings of the Bible present in this complex world of social relations.

The Church interprets our experience of the life by reading the signs of the times in the light of faith and provides direction and guidance in a world that is in constant change.

Catholic Social Teaching then is about giving guidance at the crossroads where Christian life and conscience come into contact with the real world, and to inspire us to appropriately address the social issues of our time.


A Broken World

Right relationships which should exist are often absent: hunger, war and poverty cause hardship and suffering.

Many people lack the basics we take for granted: food, water, shelter, and medicine.

Inequality caused by greed, corruption, and exploitation, create poverty and damage the earth itself.


See, Judge, Act

Six key guiding principles of Catholic social teaching help us to see the situation clearly, to judge the situation accurately, and to act in response. This enables us to rectify and to maintain the right relationships between God, one another and the earth.


Six Guiding Principles

Human Dignity  – we are created in the image and likeness of God and each person has an inalienable dignity which is not lessened for any reason. This dignity makes us equal in rights. Our human dignity is the basis for all our rights, the first of which is the right to life.

The Common Good – the sum total of social conditions which allow the people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily. We are all called to develop our gifts to achieve our potential and have a right and duty to do so. The rights and duties of each group and individual must be in harmony with all others. All have a responsibility to promote the Common Good: we have no right to squander resources, and even rights to property are subordinate to the rights of all to subsistence. The Common Good expresses the unity of the entire human family.

Participation – people have the right and duty to participate in decisions that directly affect them and actively shape their own destiny. Participation in political and social life is a virtue and the requirement for the triumph of justice.

Solidarity – expresses the fundamental bond between all human beings and our interdependence. Solidarity is the “the firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the Common Good... to the good of all and the human rights of all – because we are all really responsible for all”. The rich have responsibility for the poor and national and international structures must reflect this. The poor are not burdens, and the “strangers” who live among us are not alien; they are our brothers and sisters.

Subsidiarity – all power and decision-making in society should be at the most local level compatible with the common Good. This places responsibility as close as possible to the grass roots: interventions from above should only be to support in cases of need, and to coordinate with the rest of society to achieve the Common Good.

Care for Creation – we are stewards of God’s Creation and nature must not be reduced to an instrument for manipulation or exploitation. All of nature is interdependent and there is solidarity between all life. Care for Creation involves the integral development of the poorest parts of our world – the universal destination of goods - and the option for the poor means that solutions for environmental problems do not consign millions of people to endless poverty. There needs to be a change of attitude and lifestyle which must involve a spiritual response: our orientation towards Creation should be one of awe, respect and gratitude.


In this way we see that Care for Creation and Subsidiarity are essential to meaningful Participation and Solidarity, which are essential tools for the achievement of the Common Good which is the real world expression of our Human Dignity.