Catholic Social Teaching
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is rooted in Scripture, formed by the wisdom of Church leaders, and influenced by grassroots movements. The underlying insight is that everyone has the right and responsibility to live in our world constructively, not destructively, and to ensure that we leave it in a better state than when we entered it. CST is our moral compass, guiding us on how to live out our faith in the world. At St Thomas of Canterbury, we focus on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching as part of our RE curriculum and through projects that involve supporting charities and taking action.
There are 7 key values:
We believe every human person is made in the image and likeness of God. This is a gift that we all share as fellow human beings; we are all infinitely loved by our Creator. God is present in every human person, regardless of religion, culture, nationality, orientation or economic standing. Each one of us is unique and beautiful. We are called to treat every person and every creature with loving respect.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”
Solidarity arises when we remember that we belong to each other. We reflect on this in a special way at Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognise Christ in the poorest.” Solidarity spurs us to stand side by side with our sisters and brothers, especially those living in poverty.
“In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did it to me.”
The Common Good
The common good means that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone. No one should be excluded from the gifts of creation. Pope Paul VI spoke about this 50 years ago in his encyclical Populorum Progressio.
“You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to them what is theirs.”
Saint Ambrose (340-397 AD)
Option for the Poor
The option for the poor reminds us of God’s preferential love for the poorest and most vulnerable people. God’s love is universal; he does not side with oppressors, but loves the humble.
“The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me… to let the oppressed go free.”
Peace is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ, the Prince of Peace, sacrificed himself with love on the cross.
“Peace… is an order that is founded in truth, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.”
Pacem in Terris, 1963, #167
Creation and Environment
In the first pages of the Bible we read how God created the sun and the stars, the water and earth, and every creature. We believe Christ is the redeemer of all creation.
“Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life?”
Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, 1988
The Dignity of Work and Participation
Church teaching has always upheld the dignity of work and participation. The human person should always come before the pursuit of profit. Workers have the right to join trade unions, to a just wage, to spend time with their families and to rest. Work is an essential part of our human dignity and everyone has the right to participate.
“A small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”
Rerum Novarum, 1891, #3