the Role of Every Person in the Mission of the Church IN THE WORLD
Women and men are called to help God bring salvation to every corner of creation. God desires that wherever we are, we become channels of God's Holy Spirit: in our Church, our families, our friendships, our business relationships. At every moment and in every place, we are sacraments of God's heart and hands.
Through our hard work of loving the whole human family and all of creation, others taste the goodness of God and become more open to God's invitation to relationship. This is the ultimate privilege of being a human being: cooperating as a channel that reveals the goodness of God so that consciousness of God grows, relationships with God blossom, and the world is transfigured by God’s holy power into the Kingdom of God.
Through this work of loving the world, we participate in the very life of God.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING
Catholic Social Teaching provides guiding principles for our participation in society. These teachings inspire us to build a just and peaceful world in the face of modern challenges that try to prevent us from cooperating with God. Catholic Social Teaching is at the very heart of our faith, and it is these teachings that we take forth with us as men and women in our mission to love the world.
Following are seven of the primary themes of Catholic Social Teaching (taken from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops):
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Every person is sacred and deserves to be treated with dignity. 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.
- Call to Family, Community and Participation: The ways in which we organize our society impacts human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. All people have a right and a duty to participate in society, which must be aimed at bringing about the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. The role of government and other institutions is to protect human life and dignity, and promote the common good.
- Rights & Responsibilities: A world of dignity and wellbeing can only be created if human rights are protected and individual and collective responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. However, in addition to these rights, we have duties--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Both personal responsibility and social responsibilities must be honored to create the common good.
- Option for the Poor: Our world is characterized by the growing prosperity of a few while the many suffer extreme poverty. Our tradition teaches that the basic moral test is how the most vulnerable members are faring. In a society scarred divisions between rich and poor, Catholic social teaching instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
- The Dignity & Rights of Workers: Too often the bottom line takes precedence over the rights of workers. We believe that 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 organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. Respecting these rights promotes an economy that protects human life, defends human rights, and advances the well-being of all.
- Solidarity: Catholic social teaching proclaims that we are one human family under God. As such, we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, wherever they live, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are called to practice the virtue of solidarity, understanding that "loving our neighbor" has global dimensions in an interdependent world.
- Care for God's Creation: Catholic tradition insists that we show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth and all of its creatures 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.
Catholic Social Teaching has evolved through a rich tradition of documents written by popes, councils and bishops. To learn more about Catholic Social Teaching, it is important to read the documents themselves. See the list on the left side of this page as a starting point.
Resources on Catholic Social Teaching
Here are a few titles you might find helpful in learning the basics of CST:
- Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action by Thomas Massaro, SJ
- Catholic Social Teaching and Movements by Marvin Krier Mich
- Doing Faith justice: an Intro to Catholic Social Thought by Fred Kammer, SJ
You can learn more by reading social teaching documents directly. There are many--here are a few key ones:
- On Capital and Labor, Pope Leo XIII, 1891
- Peace in the World, Pope John XXIII, 1963
- Church in the Modern World, Vatican II Council, 1965
- On the Progress of Peoples, Pope Paul VI, 1967
- The Challenge of Peace, US Catholic Bishops, 1983
- Economic Justice for All, US Catholic Bishops, 1986
- The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, US Catholic Bishops, 1999
- Laudato Si, Pope Francis, 2015
Explore these web sites to learn more about how to participate in actions for justice and peace: