|The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching
These seven principles are foundational guides to help us to understand our roles
and responsibilities in the world as Catholic Christians. The challenge is to make
them an integral part of our lives so that through us, the world is gradually
transformed into the community envisioned by God.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human
person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of
all the principles of Catholic social teaching. In our society, human life is often being
undermined by many realities and in many ways. There is an intrinsic value in human
life and any sociological, scientific, or medical developments must hold this principle
as the guide post in development and discernment. Nations must protect the right
to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by
peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more
important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it
threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society in
economics and politics, in law and policy directly affects human dignity and the
capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social
institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe
people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the
common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy
community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities
are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those
things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and
responsibilities-to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral guide post is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society
marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the
storyof the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the
poor and vulnerable first.
The 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 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.
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and
ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they
may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core
of the virtue of solidarity is the diligent pursuit of justice and peace. The Gospel calls
us to be peacemakers. Our love, care and respect for all our sisters and brothers
demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
Care for God’s Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for God’s
creation, is not just care for the earth, but rather it encompasses the reality that our
stewardship of the created order is grounded in the belief that everything we have,
everything that lives and grows, absolutely everything is fundamentally a gift from
God. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our
faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship
with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and
ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
These principles are foundational guidelines. The rich history and tradition of the
Catholic faith enumerates these principles in a multitude of documents. Principles
are the guide to our moral conscience and are meant to encourage prayerful,
thoughtful reflection on their meaning and application in our every day lives. We
encourage you to consider these principles in light of all social interactions from the
Right to Vote to the enactment of local laws which may or may not reflect these