The Catholic University of America

NCSSS is The CUA Actualization of Catholic Social Teaching

The Catholic University of America expresses its Catholic Identity through the actualization of Catholic Social Teaching in the National Catholic School of Social Service.  In their coursework and field practicum, students of social work are formed by Catholic Social Teaching as they develop into professional leaders who serve society through charity and social justice in their social work practice. The faculty of NCSSS serve as strong role models in living the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching through their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and professional service.  The school’s central focus on Catholic Social Teaching is natural, given the intersection of the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching and values of the social work profession.

Life and Human Dignity

Social workers hold each person in high respect and regard, recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of individuals. Social workers change the world by helping individuals, but also by addressing the world’s problems so that individuals thrive in a healthy environment.  Special attention is given to vulnerable, marginalized, underserved, dismissed, ignored, and rejected populations.  Social workers attend to the ways human life is attacked, degraded, and discarded.  In social work practice, every person is precious, requiring the professional social worker to strive towards enhancing the life and dignity of the human person. 

Call to Family, Community, Participation

Strong families make strong communities.  Strong communities make strong families.  Social workers help to strengthen and support families, create positive human relationships, and build the common good of society by improving and enhancing social services and advocating for social policies that protect and enhance human rights.

Rights and Responsibilities

As members of society and participants in the common good, every person has a fundamental right to life and human dignity.  Social workers advocate for the human and economic rights of individuals while also seeking to change the institutions and governing policies of society that both infringe on and violate human rights or that may protect and enhance human rights.  Social workers also assist people to fully participate in society so that they may themselves serve society responsibly. 

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

Social workers are called by their professional code of ethics to attend primarily to people in poverty and those who are vulnerable to oppression and discrimination.  At the micro (individual), mezzo (family, community organizations and institutions), and macro (state, national, international governments and organizations) levels, social workers plan for and institute change so that people in poverty have their basic needs met and so that conditions are created in which social and economic justice prevails. 

Dignity and Rights of Workers

Social workers advocate for justice in the labor market.  Where employees suffer injustice through labor exploitation, unemployment or underemployment, and inhumane working conditions, social workers organize people to achieve dignity for workers, fair wages, and the right to form and join unions. Social workers also focus on social policies that affect people’s abilities to acquire living wage employment and build wealth for themselves and their families.


Social workers are not merely focused on domestic challenges and issues, but are in the vanguard of global response to global problems.  The interconnectedness of the human family requires the social work profession to attend to threats to humanity and human well-being around the globe. Social workers are especially attuned to social justice and peace.  Pope Paul VI’s call to work for justice in order to secure peace is most congruent with the central concern of the social work profession to end conflict by strengthening individuals, families, organizations, communities, societies and ultimately global relations. 

Care for God’s Creation

Social workers seek to advance sustainable development through the wise and prudent use of resources and the protection of the environment in which people live their lives.  All too often, the most vulnerable members of the human family live in deep poverty and squalor, and are subject to the worst climate conditions in the most under-resourced areas of the globe.  Social workers seek to help people in communities protect and develop the environment will also providing those same people with opportunities for growth and development.