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Catholic Social Teaching

Themes, Catholic Social Teaching

Christians have a special place in their hearts for the poor and vulnerable because Jesus had a special place in his heart for them.  The Gospels are filled with stories of how he helped those in need. Some of the most famous - the Beatitudes, the Last Judgment  and the Good Samaritan - summarize the importance of Christian service to the marginalized of society.

Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope Benedict XVI, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI wrote the encyclical Deus Caritas Est in 2005 about God’s love for humanity.  In a world where the name of God is sometimes associated with vengeance or even hatred, Benedict seeks to speak of the limitless love that God lavishes on humanity.

The encyclical is divided into two parts.  The first section discusses God’s love and the reality of human love.  In the second part, Benedict focuses on the commandment to love one’s neighbor especially the laities role in creating a just society.

Themes, Catholic Social Teaching

Many scholars trace the beginning of modern Catholic social teaching to the 1891 publication of Rerum Novarum (Of New Things).  Reacting to the abuse of workers during the Industrial Revolution, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical focused on the application of the Gospel message to an industrial society.  

Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching

Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22).

Themes, Catholic Social Teaching

Even the Vatican is going green. With the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Vatican began selling power back to the Roman electric grid in November 2008.

Catholic Social Teaching, CST Reflections
by Richard Benson, Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians)

Pope Benedict XVI latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, provides a timely challenge to a contemporary world in which the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" continues to grow, where materialism and individualism are sought after in place of authentic human fulfillment and where the "consumer" and short term "profit" have become the benchmarks of too many capitalists and too many capitalist enterprises.

Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope Leo XIII, 1891

Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical Rerum Novarum as the industrial revolution and political change swept across Europe. The relationship between employers and employees was changing dramatically. Individuals had become wealthy, but most remained poor even though they worked hard. Pope Leo XIII's encyclical spoke of the condition of the working classes during a time when many advocated revolution.

Catholic Social Teaching, CST Reflections

In Robert Bolt's play, A Man for All Seasons, the aging Cardinal Wolsey admonishes Sir Thomas More: "You're a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see the facts flat on, without that horrible moral squint; with just a little common sense, you could have been a statesman."(1) Wolsey's heirs are quick to upbraid our latter-day Mores for their sentimental "moral squint" at public policy. Yet even statesmen of Wolsey’s stripe seldom see the facts “flat on.”  Invariably, our perceptions betray our moral squints, the common sense with which we see the world.

Social Encyclicals, Catholic Social Teaching
Pope Pius XI, 1931

Quadragesimo Anno was written by Pope Pius XI in 1931 forty years after Pope Leo XIII's Rerun Novarum on the Condition of Workers. He wrote this encyclical to address the ethical challenges facing workers, employers, the Church and the state as a result of end of the industrial revolution and the onset of the Great Depression.

Catholic Social Teaching, CST Reflections

Encyclical Letter On the Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth

1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22).

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