Catholic social teaching (CST) is rooted in Scripture, formed by the wisdom of Church leaders, and influenced by grassroots movements. It is our moral compass, guiding us on how to live out our faith in the world.
Our faith calls us to love God and to love our neighbours in every situation, especially our sisters and brothers living in poverty. Following in the footsteps of Christ, we hope to make present in our unjust and broken world, the justice, love and peace of God.
Catholic Social Teaching is based on the belief that God has a plan for creation, a plan to build his kingdom of peace, love and justice.
The Catholic Church has seven principles of social teaching that we share with our children through all that we do, through the curriculum, special events and activity and through our ordinary actions in school.
We use many of the resources from CAFOD to help us make some of the challenges of social teaching more understandable for our pupils.
Here are just seven principles which we are inspired by.
‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. (Jeremiah’ 1:5)
We believe every human person is made in the image and likeness of God. This is a gift that we all share as fellow human beings; we are all infinitely loved by our Creator.
God is present in every human person, regardless of religion, culture, nationality, orientation or economic standing. Each one of us is unique and beautiful. We are called to treat every person and every creature with loving respect.
‘In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers (or sisters) of mine, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Solidarity arises when we remember that we belong to each other. We reflect on this in a special way at Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognise Christ in the poorest.”
Solidarity spurs us to stand side by side with our sisters and brothers, especially those living in poverty.
The Common Good
‘You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor. You are handing over to them what is theirs.’ (St Ambrose 340 – 397 AD)
The common good means that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone. No one should be excluded from the gifts of creation. Pope Paul VI spoke about this 50 years ago in his encyclical Populorum Progressio.
Sonia Sanchez is an environmental defender in El Salvador. She has been involved in a project, supported by our partners and the EU, to protect people who face personal threats for their efforts to stand up for human rights.
Option for the Poor
‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to let the oppressed go free.’ (Luke 4:18)
The option for the poor reminds us of God’s preferential love for the poorest and most vulnerable people. God’s love is universal; he does not side with oppressors, but loves the humble.
‘Peace is an order that is founded in truth, nurtures and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.’ (Pocem in Terris 1963)
Peace is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ, the Prince of Peace, sacrificed himself with love on the cross.
In 1963, Pope John XXIII published Pacem in Terris (Peace on earth). It was a dangerous time for humanity; with the rise of nuclear weapons, the frightening stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the building of the Berlin Wall. The Pope's letter urged the world to seek peace. Today, our troubled world is still in need of peace.
Care for Creation
‘Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life?’ (Catholic Bishops of the Philippines 1988)
In the first pages of the Bible we read how God created the sun and the stars, the water and earth, and every creature. We believe Christ is the redeemer of all creation.
In 2015, Pope Francis brought together decades of Church teaching in the encyclical, Laudato Si’. In this deeply influential letter, Pope Francis invites everyone on the planet to consider how our actions are affecting the earth and the poorest people. Everything is interconnected, and all of creation praises God. It is our Christian vocation to care for creation.
The Dignity of Work and Participation
‘The small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the labouring poor a yoke little better that that of slavery itself.’ (Rerum Novarum 1891)
The dignity of work has been a key principle of Catholic social teaching from the very beginning.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labour). He shone a light on the injustice and exploitation of workers by the rich during the Industrial Revolution. He advocated for workers to join forces and fight against inhuman conditions.
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