What is Catholic Social Teaching?
Catholic Social Teaching (often referred to as CST) has sometimes been called ‘The Church’s Best Kept Secret”. CST is the Church reflecting on its mission in the world today, helping us to think about how we relate to the world around us and the problems that we face.
Drawing upon the Old and New Testaments, its traditions and its knowledge of social and economic traditions around the world, the Church has produced a vast number of encyclicals over the past hundred years or so.
These encyclicals, or letters, form a formidable body of principles by which social and economic activity can be judged. The encyclicals, written by the Pope or Bishops are focused around core themes. These include human dignity, community and participation, care for creation, life and work, peace, solidarity and subsidiarity.
CSAN & Catholic Social Teaching
At CSAN we believe in importance of putting Catholic Social Teaching at the heart of our work. We are committed to the reality of human dignity and that each person should be an actor in his or her own human flourishing.
“There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, the right freely to choose their state of life and set up a family, the right to education, work, to their good name, to respect, to proper knowledge, the right to act according to the dictates of conscience and to safeguard their privacy, and rightful freedom, including freedom of religion.” Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes, n26
As a Catholic charity we feel that solidarity with the poor and marginalised and the importance of subsidiarity in providing care and support is integral to the work we do.
“A consistent theme of Catholic social teaching is the option or love of preference for the poor. Today, this preference has to be expressed in worldwide dimensions, embracing the immense number of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care and those without hope.” On Social Concern, #42
A key encyclical which speaks to us is Deus Caritas Est (2005). It describes our doctrine on charity in action. It calls us to be the “heart which sees”, that though professional competence is importance, it is not enough and the need for us to be compassionate and heartfelt in our work with the poor and vulnerable. Pope Benedict XVI clearly states that we help those who are suffering because we are Catholic, not because they are. “Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others.” (31)