Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is built on a commitment to the poor and most vulnerable, emerging from the truth that God’s very nature is communal and social. Just as God is love, we too are called to reach out and build relationships of love and justice.
Catholic Social Teaching is founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came “to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind”(Luke 4:18-19), and who identified with “the least of these,” the hungry and the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:45).
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) has long been a central and essential element of Christian faith. The Hebrew prophets announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice.
Sister Kathleen Ryan, SND, of Chardon, Ohio, the Co-Chair of the SND USA Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) National Office Advisory Council, says, “Catholic Social Teaching gives us a map, a path, a direction to live the great commandment ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“It calls us to redefine our neighbor. The Gospel is full of neighbors–lepers, people from other tribes and cultures, outcasts, the unnoticed and uncared for. Some in the Gospel said, ‘Surely not them. Not those people.’ Jesus, through story-telling and loving actions, said ‘Yes, all are invited, all are included, all are lovable, and all are to be loved.’”
Sister Kathleen passionately continues, “Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that the vision of life–loving God, neighbor, self, and the earth–is announcing a vision of potential. This vision sees the Kingdom for all. It calls us to vie with the negative forces which keep individuals, whole segments of society, and entire countries within the global family from reflecting the image of God.”
While certain Catholic Social Teachings are clear and easy to articulate, others can be difficult to neatly summarize, particularly in applying them to given situations. Nevertheless, this complexity can best be summarized in seven key principles of Catholic Social Teaching.