Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice. Every believer is called to be an informed, active and responsible participant in the political process.

There are two ways we are called to respond, often referred to as the “two feet of social justice.” One is through individual acts of service and charity, donating our time, talent and resources to those in need. The other is through the legislative process, helping to shape laws and regulations which promote respect for life, justice and compassion. Every believer is called to be an informed, active and responsible participant in the political process.

The seven principles of Catholic social teaching are:

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person – human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society
  • The Call to Family, Community, and Participation – The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.
  • Human Rights and Responsibilities – The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected, and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.
  • Special Concern for the Poor and Vulnerable – A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers – 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.
  • Solidarity – We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice. The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers.
  • Care for God’s Creation – We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the Earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it 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.

The New York State Catholic Conference urges Catholics to become informed and active participants in the legislative process, to use our voices and votes to speak for the voiceless, defend the poor and vulnerable, and advance the common good. Lawmakers need to hear from their local constituents.