Offical Church Documents
The following are some of the documents of the Church which touch on aspects of the work of Catholic Charities:
Papal Encyclical - Saved by Hope
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI issued an encyclical, Spe salvi (Saved by hope) on November 30, 2007. Addressed to "the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious, and All the Lay Faithful" the Holy Father outlines the concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and early church and notes the importance of Christian faith and hope in the modern age. In the encyclical letter, Pope Benedict analyzes the false utopian dreams of the modern age and points out the untold suffering they have caused human beings. Spe salvi is the second encyclical of Pope Benedict. His first, "Deus caritas est," (God is love) explored the meaning of Christian love and how it is expressed in everyday life. He issued it December 25, 2005.
Printable version - English translation
Printable version - Spanish translation
Caritas in Veritate - Charity in Truth
Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict’s third encyclical (June 29, 2009), is a call to see the relationship between human and environmental ecologies and to link charity and truth in the pursuit of justice, the common good, and authentic human development. In doing so, the pope points out the responsibilities and limitations of government and the private market, challenges traditional ideologies of right and left, and calls all men and women to think and act anew.
Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) -- Pope Leo XIII, 1891
This seminal work on modern Catholic social thought addresses the plight of the industrial workers in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. It calls for the protection of the weak and the poor through the persuit of justice while excluding socialism and class struggle as legitimate principles of change. It affirms the dignity of work, the right to private property, and the right to form and join professional associations.
Quadragesimo Anno (After Forty Years) -- Pope Pius XI, 1931
Writing in response to the alarming concentration of wealth and power in the socio-economic realm, Pius XI calls for the reestablishment of a social order based on the principle of subsidiarity. In commemorating the 40th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, this encyclical reaffirms the need for a social order animated by justice.
Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress) -- Pope John XXIII, 1961
Applying the teachings of his predecessors to modern problems, and affirming the role of the Church as a teacher, and as a nurturing guardian of the poor and oppressed, John XXIII calls for a greater awareness of the need for all peoples to live as one community with a common good. Special attention is focused on the plight of the farmers and farm workers in depressed rural, agricultural economies.
Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) -- Pope John XXIII, 1963
Covering the entire spectrum of relations between individuals, between the individual and the community, and between nations, John XXIII affirms the inviolability of human rights. Peace, based on mutual trust, can be well-founded only if undergirded by a unity of right order in human affairs arising from a genuine respect for and adherence to the law of God.
Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)
Vatican Council II, 1965
Calling for a new sense of service by the Church in a rapidly changing world, the Council presents the ethical framework of the Church's commitment to pastoral work in the world. This servant Church addresses itself to the real concerns and problems faced by Christians living in the modern age and calls for a development based on an unqualified accceptance of the inherent dignity of the human person.
Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples) -- Pope Paul VI, 1967
Calling attention to the worsening marginalization of the poor, Paul VI presents the various dimensions of an integral human development and the necessary conditions for growth in the solidarity of peoples. Only with an accompanying theological reflection on liberation from injustice and genuine human values can there be true development towards a more human condition.
Octogesima Adveniens (A Call to Action) -- Pope Paul VI, 1971
Realizing the need for a genuine renewal in domestic and international societal structures, Paul VI calls on Christians to live up to the duty of participation in social and political reform as a way of discovering the truth and living out the Gospel.
Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) -- Pope John Paul II, 1981
Exhorting Christians everywhere to be involved in the transformation of existing socio-economic systems, John Paul II presents work as a fundamental dimension of human existence through which the "social question" must be viewed. The meaning of work can only be properly understood when the dignity of labor is taken as an underlying premise.
Solicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern) -- Pope John Paul II, 1987
Expanding on the notion of development in Populorum Progressio, John Paul II reviews the state of world development in the past two decades. The moral nature of development leading humanity to the "fullness of being" is emphasized.
Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year) -- Pope John Paul II, 1991
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) -- Pope John Paul II, 1995
Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) -- Pope John Paul II, 1998
Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love) -- Pope Benedict XVI, 2005
Other Papal and Vatican Statements
The Participation of Catholics in Political Life-- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, 1992