January 19, 2022 WBAS Whole Community Catechesis
Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching Resources
By: Kathy Hendricks
What is Catholic social teaching, and what does this teaching of the Catholic Church mean for Catholics today? Explore Catholic social teaching, get to know its seven themes, and find inspiration and resources to help Catholics of all ages take action on behalf of the poor or live lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society with the help of this article.
Understanding Catholic Social Teaching
Catholic social teaching is the teaching of the Catholic Church that calls all members to work for justice and peace, as Jesus did. Jesus’ life and teaching are the foundations of Catholic social teaching, and the whole Church is called to live by this social teaching, to put the Good News of Christ into action.
Catholic social teachings call all members to work for the common good, or the well-being of every individual person and of the whole society to which every person belongs. Following the social teachings of the Catholic Church is one way that Catholics, as disciples of Jesus, accept our responsibility to care for others.
Themes of Catholic Social Teaching
There are seven themes of Catholic social teaching. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching have been culled from the Church’s tradition of advocacy and action on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Each one articulates a particular call to work for justice on behalf of workers, respect and dignity for families and individuals, stewardship of the earth’s resources, and a global vision that brings us together as a community dedicated to peace and unity.Here is a description of each and what it means in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ and members of the Catholic Church.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Church teaches that human life is sacred because it is a gift from God. We are all God’s children and share the same human dignity from the moment of conception to natural death. Our dignity comes from being made in the image and likeness of God. This dignity makes us equal. As Christians we respect all people, even those we do not know.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
As Christians we are involved in our family life and community. We are called to be active participants in social, economic, and political life, using the values of our Catholic faith to shape our decisions and actions.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Human Person
Every person has a fundamental right to life. This includes the things we need to have a decent life: faith and family, work and education, health care and housing. We also have a responsibility to others and to society. We work to make sure the rights of all people are protected.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
We have a special obligation to help those who are poor and in need. This includes those who cannot protect themselves because of their age or because of their health. At different times in our lives, we are all poor in some way and in need of assistance.
Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Our work is a sign of our participation in God’s work. People have the right to decent work, just wages, safe working conditions, and to participate in decisions about their work. There is value in all work, including work at school and at home which are ways that Catholic kids can participate in God’s work of creation – using talents and abilities to thank God for his gifts.
Solidarity of the Human Family
Solidarity is a feeling of unity that binds members of a group together. Each of us is a member of the one human family, equal by our common human dignity. Human dignity is the value and worth that we share because God created us in his image and likeness. The human family include people of all racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds. We all suffer when one part of the human family suffers, whether they live far or near to us.
Care for God’s Creation
God created us to be stewards, or caretakers, of his creation. We must care for and respect the environment. We must protect it for future generation. Care for creation show our respect for God, the Creator.
Download the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching Faith Fact as a reminder of the seven themes of Catholic social teaching and for inspiration to take action on behalf of the poor or live lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society.
Living According to Catholic Social Teaching
Putting catholic social teaching into practice in our lives takes understanding, courage and commitment. The Applying the Themes of Catholic Social Teaching eBook offers ways to learn about Catholic social teaching and how to implement it at home, in the classroom, and in everyday life. This resource is available in English and Spanish.
For young Catholics who are eager to work for a better world, this special Hope for a Better World Retreat helps them understand the seven themes of Catholic social teaching and how to integrate these into their lives. The retreat includes a leader’s guide and handouts.
Catholics have a responsibility to work for the common good and are called to live according to the themes of Catholic social teaching, which calls all members to work for peace and justice like Jesus did.