The Catholic University of America

Summary of Catholic Social Teaching

As adapted from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

1.   Life and Dignity of the Human Person

     Human life is sacred; 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.  Every person is precious, people are more important than things, and the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.


2.   Call to Family, Community, and Participation

  The person is not only sacred but also social. The way society is organized-- in      economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. 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.


3.   Rights and Responsibilities

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 responsibilitiesto one another, to our families, and to the larger society.


4.   Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

     A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring.  In a society marred by deeping divisions between rich and poor, the Catholic Tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (see Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.


5.   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 Gods creation.  If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic human rights of workers must be respectedthe right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.


6.   Solidarity

 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 neighbors has global dimensions in a shrinking world.  At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.  Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers.  Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.


7.   Care for God's Creation

 We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation.  Care for the earth is a requirement of our faith.  We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.