Major Themes of Catholic Social Teaching

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The foundation of Catholic social teaching lies in our recognition of the inviolable sanctity of every human life. We call upon individuals and social institutions to respect the sanctity and dignity of life from conception to natural death, and to value the worth of every human person, especially those who are vulnerable and defenseless.

Call to Family, Community, Participation

The person is not only sacred, but social. We recognize the family as an integral unit to all other social institutions. We encourage social policies that protect and support marriage and the family, and that encourage all members of society to exercise their right and duty to participate in communal efforts to seek the common good.

Rights and Responsibilities

There is an integral relationship between our rights as human persons, and our responsibilities to one another. The protection of human dignity and the attainment of a healthy society are possible only when all individuals acknowledge their duty and responsibility to care for one another, their families, and the larger human community.

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

An essential moral measure of society is the basic welfare of its most vulnerable members. In forming social and political policies, we are called to give priority to the needs of the poor and vulnerable, and to ensure that all members of society have access to basic necessities.

The Dignity and Rights of Workers

We believe that human labor should be valued as an expression of each individual's participation in the continuing process of God's creation. Economic policies should uphold the right of all workers to productive labor, to a safe and decent work environment, to fair and livable wages, to organize and join unions, and to the free exercise of economic initiative.


Regardless of our national, racial, ethnic, economic or ideological differences, we share and inseparable bond with one another as human beings. The principle of solidarity calls us to seek a just social order where goods are distributed fairly, opportunity is promoted equally, and the dignity of all is respected.

Care for God's Creation

The Catholic tradition calls us to respect our Creator through our responsible stewardship of all creation. We are called to preserve our world's natural resources not only for the benefit of today's society, but for all future generations.

Adapted from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 1999.