Catholic Social Teaching

Principles at Our Agency’s Core & Principles by which We Build a Just Society

At the heart of Catholic Charities’ Mission and Core Values are the Catholic Social Teachings (CST) of the Church, also known as the Social Doctrine of the Church. The many programs of Catholic Charities are guided by, and witness to, the rich tradition and wisdom of Catholic Social Teaching. As stated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Catholic Social Teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.”

Catholic Social Teaching has its foundation in Sacred Scripture and is has been developed and articulated over many years through papal addresses and encyclicals, and through the statements of the USCCB and of bishops from around the world. Adding to this teaching are the statements from local episcopal ordinaries, such as the Bishop of Charlotte, on social and ethical issues, as well as the educational resources provided by many Catholic organizations such as Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services. Through all these many resources, Catholic Social teaching promotes charity, justice, and peace with vitality and intellectual grounding.

While the broad scope, depth, and richness of CST is best understood by reading source documents, Catholics receive assistance in understanding its major themes through helpful summary resources. The USCCB offers an online resource that presents the seven core themes of CST, listed below.

Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person
  • Call to Family, Community and Participation
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
  • Solidarity
  • Care for God’s Creation

Video Resources

To further assist in promoting an understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, please find below two video resources.  The first provides a five-minute overview of CST. The second offers a video on each of the seven CST themes.

  1. Summary Video on CST (Courtesy of Gary Meegan, Ed.D., Junipero Serra High School)
  2. CST 101 Videos and Materials – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services

Should your viewing time be limited, it is recommended that you watch the overall CST summary video resource first (approximately 5 minutes in length).

Further Resource on the Social Doctrine of the Church

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is a synthesis of the Church’s social teachings published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in October 2004. The compendium is divided into three parts, examining the foundations, contents, and pastoral perspectives of Catholic social doctrine. Other CST foundational documents are available on the USCCB’s website.