Catholic Social Teaching (CST) offers a way of thinking, being and seeing the world. It provides a vision for a just society in which the dignity of all people is recognised, and those who are vulnerable are cared for. It consists of an interrelated body of Catholic social thought and principles which can be used to reflect on and guide how we relate to one another in our local and global communities.
The perspective and principles of Catholic Social Teaching are a rich heritage, developed as the Church has engaged with key social issues throughout history. Catholic Social Teaching includes insight from the Scriptures, as well as understanding from the thinking, reflections and lived experience of people throughout the life of the Church.
“An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.”
(Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)
See, Judge, Act
The tradition of Catholic Social Teaching encourages a process of:
- Looking at the social justice issues as they affect society – SEE
- Understanding what is happening and why it is happening – JUDGE
- Discerning the actions needed to respond – ACT
There a number of key principles (below) which inform this process of reflection.
Catholic Social Teaching and CSSA
Catholic Social Services Australia’s (CSSA) vision, mission and day to day work are informed by Catholic Social Teaching. The key principles of Catholic Social Teaching shape CSSA’s policy and advocacy work responding to key social justice and social service issues. CSSA advocates with and on behalf of vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society, whom CSSA member agencies serve every day through ongoing social programs.
The following Papal Encyclicals are just some of the key Church documents which have contributed to the development and application of CST. Other relevant Papal documents are available here.
- Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship
- Laudato Si’ On Care for our Common Home 2015, Pope Francis
- Evangelii Gaudium The Joy of the Gospel 2013, Pope Francis
- Deus Caritas Est God is Love 2005, Pope Benedict XVI
- Sollicitudo Rei Socialis The Social Concern of the Church 1987, Pope John Paul II
- Gaudium et Spes Joys and Hopes 1965, Second Vatican Council
- Rerum Novarum Capital and Labour 1891, Pope Leo XIII
Further information and resources on the core principles and application of Catholic Social Teaching are available at the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website, and the Caritas Australia website.