7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

These key themes are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition:

Life and dignity of the human person. Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Human life is sacred and each person has inherent dignity. Calls to advance human rights are illusions is the right to life itself is subject to attack.

Call to family, community and participation. The human person is not only sacred but inherently social. The God-given institutions of marriage and the family are central and serve as the foundations for social life. They must be supported, not undermined. Beyond the family, every person has a right to participate in the wider society and a corresponding duty to work for the advancement of the common good and the well-being of all, especially the poor and weak.

Rights and responsibilities. As social beings, our relationships are governed by a web of rights and corresponding duties. Every person has a fundamental right to life an a right to those things that allow one to live a decent life—faith and family, food and shelter, health care and housing, education and employment.

Option for the poor and vulnerable. The Bible and the Church call on all of us to embrace a preferential love of the poor and vulnerable.

Dignity of work and the rights of workers. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s act of creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers, owners and managers must be respected.

Solidarity. Because of the interdependence among all the members of the human family around the globe, we have a moral responsibility to commit ourselves to the common good everywhere.

Care for God’s creation. Our use of the world must be directed by God’s plan for creation, not simply by our own benefit. Our stewardship of the earth is a kind of participation in God’s act of creating and sustaining the world.

 (excerpted from the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral on Civic Responsibility, entitled:  Faithful Citizenship: Political Responsibility for a New Millennium. To read the entire pastoral, link here)