What is Catholic Social Teaching?

The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about living lives of holiness and building a just society amidst the challenges of contemporary life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the Church's social teaching comprises a body of doctrine, which is articulated as the Church interprets events in the course of history, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit…. The Church's social teaching proposes principles for reflection; it provides criteria for judgment; it gives guidelines for action.”1

Since it is “the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society” 2 Catholic social teaching assists the faithful in forming their conscience according to the mind and heart of the Church on issues of consequence.3 The Church receives from the Gospel the full revelation of the truth about man. Catholic social teaching is itself “built on the foundation handed on by the apostles to the Fathers of the Church and then received and further explored by the great Christian doctors. It is attested to by the saints and by those who gave their lives for Christ.” 4

Its fundamental principles are universal, because they “seek the good of the human person, who is always being called by God to salvation. They do not speak only to Catholics, but to the world. Catholics have an obligation to speak of justice and peace to this world, as we seek to create a civilization of love.” 5 This teaching can be more easily accepted by men of good will, the more the faithful let themselves be guided by it.6


Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2422-2443.
2CCC 2239.
3CCC 1778, 1783.
4Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 12.
5Bishop Earl Boyea, Pastoral Letter Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord, 49.
6CCC 2422.