Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. It is a teaching that summons the call for each of us to announce God’s special love for the poor and a calling for all of God’s people to a covenant of love and justice.

Catholic Social Teaching emerges from the truth of what God has revealed Himself to us, that we who are made in God’s image and likeness are called to share this communal and social nature. We are called to build relationships of love and justice with others as well as creation.

Through the years, the social teachings of the Church have been articulated through a tradition of papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents. It delves deeper into matters relating to human dignity and the common good in society. Here are 7 principles at the heart of our Catholic Social Teaching.

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1. Life and Dignity of Human Person

Every human person is of infinite dignity. All of society must be directed towards the well-being of the human person.

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1. Life and Dignity of Human Person

In CCC 1700, it writes that “the dignity of a human person is rooted in the image and likeness of God.” Human dignity stems from the persons that we are, not from the work that we do, and no human being should have this dignity compromised. This belief is the foundation on which all other principles of social teaching are conceptualized. CHARIS’ work is centered on this core theme of the restoration of human dignity – to inspire, enable and unite. Having access to basic human rights (e.g., food, shelter, education) forms the fundamentals of living a dignified life.

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2. Call to family, community, and participation

Human persons are meant to be in community and have a right to freely associate with one another to achieve the common good. “Everyone must consider their every neighbour without exception as another self.” - Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes (The Joys and Hopes), 1965, #27

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2. Call to family, community, and participation

How we relate to one another and organise ourselves in society directly affects human dignity and the ways in which individuals grow in community. Individuals have the right to and duty to participate in society, in the decision making processes that shapes the world that we live in today. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1913, it states that It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person.

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3. Rights and Responsibilities

“The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the United Nations, April, 2008

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3. Rights and Responsibilities

The protection of human dignity is the main tenet on which the principle of rights and responsibilities rests on. Upholding the human dignity in various spheres of our lives leads to the recognition of rights and responsibility. Everyone has a fundamental right to life and things necessary for basic human survival. The responsibilities refer to the duties and responsibilities to one another and larger society.

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4. Preferential option for the poor and vulnerable

God intended for all the world’s resources to be enjoyed by everyone, and not just a few people. We should have a preferential option for the poor and see to it that the most vulnerable have what they need.

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4. Preferential option for the poor and vulnerable

As members of the Church, caring for the less fortunate is part of our responsibility. The needs of the most vulnerable should always come first. Furthermore, the economy should be regulated in a way that allows for the fair distribution of resources and does not exploit the poor. Through our programmes and provision of aid, CHARIS aims to alleviate the problems faced in humanitarian situations and other adverse circumstances faced by the poor and needy.

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5. Dignity of work and right of workers

The human person’s intrinsic dignity means that human work is holy as well. Moreover, everyone should have working conditions worthy of the children of God.

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5. Dignity of work and right of workers

According to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), “Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.

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6. Solidarity

Every human person is deeply connected to every other person. We are called to stand together as one human family.

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6. Solidarity

How we relate to one another and organise ourselves in society directly affects human dignity and the ways in which individuals grow in community. Individuals have the right to and duty to participate in society, in the decision making processes that shapes the world that we live in today. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1913, it states that It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person.

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7. Care for God’s creation

Creation is holy because this is the place where we relate to God. The goods of the earth are gifts from God, and they are intended by God for the benefit of everyone.

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7. Care for God’s creation

In Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, it invites people to protect God’s creation for future generations, adopting a change in our lifestyles for the good of our common home and helping to bring the world towards salvation. All life on earth is part of God’s creation and gifts which have been bestowed to us. We are commanded to be a good steward of the gifts that God has entrusted to us, protecting God’s creation, and living out the faith in relation to all of God’s creation.