On the Social Teachings of the Church
The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church is founded on the teachings of Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition that God created humanity in dignity and freedom in order to live together in society so that together we pursue the path of true happiness by seeking to be in communion with God. During this Year of Faith, when the Holy Father Benedict XVI has invited the Universal Church to reflect on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, I would like to use this page of our web blog to look at some elements of the Social Teaching of the Church.
In summary form, the Social Teachings of the Church contains the following topics:
The Life and Dignity of the Human Person: Every human being is created in the image of God with an inherent dignity and right to life that is worth of respect as a member of the human family. This sacredness of life and dignity of the human person is supposed to be the foundation of a moral vision for any society.
The Call to Family, Community, Freedom of Participation in Society: God created a human as a social being, to live and grow in community. This included the dignity of marriage and family and creating association with others. He/she has the right and duty to freely participate in society.
A Human Being has rights and responsibilities that must be protected: Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has fundamental rights and corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
The Fundamental option for the poor and vulnerable: It is a moral responsibility of every person to promote and defend the dignity of every human person, especially the poor and most vulnerable. The Story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) instructs us to show our faith in a practical way by attending to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: Economic plans and activities should aim at serving the people and not the other way round. Work is more than a way to make a living, but a way of continuing participation in God’s act of creation. The dignity of work must be protected and the basic rights of workers need to be respected (right to productive work; to decent and fair wages; to private property and economic initiative).
The Call to Solidarity: Whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic or ideological differences we may have, we are all one human family. The covenantal love of God for humanity is the basis of the unity, co-responsibility and equitable sharing of resources among peoples. “We are our brothers and sisters keepers”.
Call to Care for God’s Creation: The stewardship of creation is part and parcel of the dignity for which the human being was created. The care for the earth is more than just a slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to live our faith in relationship with God’s creation and address the environmental challenges with respect.