Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is the Catholic Church’s ethical framework for analyzing the economic, social and political realities of the world we
live in. It starts from the conviction that the Christian Gospel has
implications for all dimensions of human life and activity.
Based on the core
beliefs of Christian faith, such as the dignity of the human person made
in the image of God, it sets out ethical principles and guidance, which
can appeal to all people, whether Catholic or not. Catholic Social
Teaching has a particular importance for Catholics, whom it challenges
to transform the world we live in as part of living their faith.
Catholic Social Teaching
has come to prominence in the last hundred years, as the Church has
responded to immense changes in social and political structures. But
this does not mean it is something new.
From the time of the
early Church onwards, Christians have been inspired by faith to seek
justice and to protect and uphold people who are poor. In the last
century, the Church has gradually made this teaching more systematic, as
successive popes and the Second Vatican Council have set out the
Church's thinking on complex contemporary realities.
Teaching has several distinctive characteristics:
Catholics regard it
as authoritative: when Catholic Social Teaching is set
out either at the global level by the Pope or a Synod of Bishops, or
at national level by Conferences of Bishops, it has a claim on the
attention and response of the global Catholic community numbering
around a billion.
It is dynamic
and unfolding. Although it contains principles that are
permanently true, such as the obligation to seek social justice, it
is also enriched by absorbing new insights such as the importance of
human rights. Catholic Social Teaching develops in response to
changing social, political and economic realities.
Social Teaching is formally articulated by bishops and the Pope, it
is nourished, expressed and applied in practice by the faith
and action of members of the Church who work for justice.
Catholic Agency for Oversees Development