Human Dignity: The foundation of all Catholic Social Teaching is the inherent dignity of every human person because everyone is created in God's image and likeness and therefore, valuable and worthy of respect. The Church calls for Integral Human Development, which concerns the wellbeing of each person in every facet of life including economic, political, social, ecological, and spiritual. The dignity of the individual demands justice: people should not make economic, social or environmental choices which cause disparities between people. The dignity of the person does not come from the work they do but from the people they are: each person is imprinted with God's image. When we deal with each other, we should do so with a sense of awe that arises from the presence of something holy and sacred. Subhuman living conditions, unlawful imprisonment, slavery, human trafficking, and poor working conditions poison human society and destroy human dignity. Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. Scripture: Genesis 1:26-31; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 12:9-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16
The Common Good and Community: As human beings we are both sacred and social people. We achieve our fulfilment within community; so how society is organised, its economy, law and policy, directly affect human dignity and how individuals are able to grow and flourish within community. While it is very important to love our neighbour, it also requires us to have a broader view of life and to take responsibility to contribute to the good of the whole of society, to contribute to the common good. Human dignity can only be realised and protected within society. We must love our neighbour, locally and globally, and prioritize the good of the human family over commercial interests. The common good also includes all people, creatures and habitats. Our treatment of the ecosystem has consequences for the well-being of future generations. We live in an interdependent world and we need to measure our own self-interest against the greater common good and contribute equitably to global solutions. The state prospers when there is good moral rule, well-regulated family life, respect for religion and justice, just and fair taxation, and appropriate provision of social services. Every level of society should benefit from the state and the state should work to promote the common good. The state should watch over the community in its parts but it must also pay particular attention to the weak and the poor. Promoting the common good means promoting the full development of all humanity and encouraging them to take an active part in society. While the Church should never replace the State, she cannot remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. The Church promotes justice through bringing about an openness of mind and will in seeking the common good. In today's world where injustice abounds, a call to global solidarity is logically and inevitable. The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Scripture Genesis 4:8-15; Leviticus 25:23-43; Micah 6:6-8; John 15:12-17; 1 John 4:19-21
Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: While the common good embraces all people, those most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic test for society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor and vulnerable should be highest priority for all in society. All public policy decisions should be examined for how they affect the poor. The option for the poor means that one of the first questions asked when decisions are being made is 'How will this affect the poor'? The option for the poor is an essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good and the common good can only be achieved if the needs of the poor and those on the margins of society are considered. God's love is universal, so this principle does not intend that we should focus on the poor to the exclusion of others, but rather that we are called to prioritize those who are in most need of our solidarity. The option for the poor includes all who are marginalised: people with disabilities, the elderly, the terminally ill, victims of injustice and oppression. The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes' (Economic Justice for All, #94). Scripture: Exodus 22:20-26; Leviticus 19:9-10; Isaiah 58:5-7; Luke 6: 20-23; I John 3:17-18
Rights and Responsibilities: The dignity of each person can only be protected if human rights are protected. Every person has the right to life and to those things which are essential to human decency such as food, shelter, clothing, employment, healthcare and education. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities which encompasses each other, our families and the wider society. We should not take more than is needed to fulfill our rights at the expense of another's.In Catholic teaching, human rights include civil and political rights as well as economic rights. When people are unable to earn a living, or are hungry or homeless, they are being denied basic rights and society must ensure that these rights are protected. Scripture Leviticus 25:35; Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah1:16-17; Matthew 25: 31-46; Luke 16:19-31; Acts 4:32-35
Role of Government and Subsidiarity: The state must promote human dignity, protect human rights and build the common good. People have the right and responsibility to participle in political institutions so that government can achieve its proper goals. One of the important functions of government is to assist citizens in fulfilling their responsibility to others in society. According to the principle of subsidiarity, decisions should be made at the lowest level possible: a decision which can be made at a local level should not be made at a national level. In order that the right to development may be fulfilled by action: (a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with their own culture; (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able to become the principal architects of their own economic and social development (Justice in the World, #71). If any government does not acknowledge the rights of humankind or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its orders completely lack juridical force (Peace on Earth, #61). In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, 'It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person... As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life' (nos. 1913-1915). Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #13ScriptureLeviticus 25:23-43; Micah 6:6-8; Jeremiah 22: 13-16; John 15:12-17; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Stewardship of Creation: Catholic tradition insists that we show respect for the Creator by being good stewards of creation. The Earth is sacred and creation has its own intrinsic value. We have a responsibility to protect and to cherish the earth's ecological diversity, beauty and life-sustaining properties. The goods of the earth are gifts from God and intended for the benefit of everyone. How we treat the environment is a measure of stewardship. As stewards of creation we are entrusted with caring for the gifts of creation and preserving them for future generations. Together, we must hold the earth in trust for future generations. Being a good steward means safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly. Being a good steward also means being generous with your time and talents. As Christian stewards, we receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others and return them with increase to God. Caring for and cultivating the world involves a joyful appreciation for the God-given beauty and wonder of nature; protection and preservation of the environment, which would be the stewardship of ecological concern; respect for human life but doing all that can be done to enhance this gift and make life flourish; and developing the world through human effort. As stewards of God's gifts, we are not passive beneficiaries. We cooperate with God by continuing the redemptive work of Jesus in the mission of the Church. In today's world, there are many obstacles confronting Christian stewards. Sometimes our secular culture contradicts religious convictions about the meaning of life and encourages us to focus on ourselves and our pleasures. As Christian stewards, we are encouraged to speak out against selfishness and greed and we try to make a special effort to understanding the true meaning of stewardship and live it accordingly. True stewardship requires changes in human actions—both in moral behaviour and technical advancement. Our religious tradition has always urged restraint and moderation in the use of material goods, so we must not allow our desire to possess more material things to overtake our concern for the basic needs of people and the environment. Pope John Paul II has linked protecting the environment to 'authentic human ecology,' which can overcome 'structures of sin' and which promotes both human dignity and respect for creation. Technological innovation and entrepreneurship can help make possible options that can lead us to a more environmentally benign energy path. Changes in lifestyle based on traditional moral virtues can ease the way to a sustainable and equitable world economy in which sacrifice will no longer be an unpopular concept. For many of us, a life less focused on material gain may remind us that we are more than what we have. Rejecting the false promises of excessive or conspicuous consumption can even allow more time for family, friends, and civic responsibilities. A renewed sense of sacrifice and restraint could make an essential contribution to addressing global climate change. (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, USCCB, 2001 #18)Scripture Genesis 1:1 -31; Genesis 2:15; Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 10:14; Matthew 6: 25- 34; Romans 1:20
Promotion of Peace and Disarmament: Catholic social teaching promotes peace as a positive and action-oriented concept. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among human beings. It involves mutual respect between peoples and nations. Peace means living in right relationship with God and with each other. Peace is the fruit of Charity and the consequence of Justice; it is the sign of caritas in action. There is no true peace without fairness, truth, justice, and solidarity. To wage war on misery and to struggle against injustice is to promote, along with improved conditions, the human and spiritual progress of all people, and therefore the common good of humanity. Peace cannot be limited to a mere absence of war, the result of an ever-precarious balance of forces. No, peace is something that is built up day after day, in the pursuit of an order intended by God, which implies a more perfect form of justice among all people (On the Development of Peoples, #76).
Participation: Human beings are sacred and social creatures. How we live together affects the dignity of the individual and the progress of our society. Everyone has the right to participate in the economic, political and cultural life of society. It is wrong for a person or group to be excluded unfairly or to be unable to participate in society. The principle of human dignity requires that all people be assured of a minimum level of participation in community and that people should not be excluded for any reason. The organisation of society moves from the basic unit of the family, to the larger community ensuring that everyone participates. The emphasis on the larger social group counterbalances unregulated individual rights that can turn toward anarchy. Humans gather in groups. Within the Catholic tradition, we are One Body with Christ and as one body we are called to care for all. Catholic Christians are called to participate in society and to ensure that all people and groups are treated well. Participation is closely linked to the themes of community and the common good. A community does not just happen. It is something that people must work together to develop. Everyone should take part in the building up of the community as far as possible. Participating in the building up of community is one of the ways that Catholics live their lives at the service of the dignity of the human person. insert 'It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth'. Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno Scripture Genesis 4:8-15; Leviticus 25:23-43; John 15:12-17; Acts 2:43-47; James 2:14-17