St John Plessington Catholic College

Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching at SJP Catholic Social Teaching (CST) at St John Plessington, is rooted in Scripture, formed by Tradition and the wisdom of Church leaders, popes, bishops, theologians. and influenced by grassroots movements.

The principles of Catholic Social Teaching act as a moral compass, guiding us on how to live out our faith in the world.

Catholic Social Teaching forms the foundations of the choices we make and how we see God’s creation.

Following in the footsteps of Christ, we hope to make present in our unjust and broken world, the justice, love and peace of God.

‘Dear young people… The Lord wants to turn your hands, my hands, our hands, into signs of reconciliation, of communion, of creation. He wants your hands to continue building the world of today.’ Pope Francis

The 7 Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching are;

1. Dignity

We believe every human person is made in the image and likeness of God. This is a gift that we all share as fellow human beings; we are all infinitely loved by our Creator. God is present in every human person, regardless of religion, culture, nationality, orientation or economic standing. Each one of us is unique and beautiful. We are called to treat every person and every creature with loving respect.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5

2. Solidarity

Solidarity arises when we remember that we belong to each other. We reflect on this in a special way at Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognise Christ in the poorest.”

“In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

3. The common good

The common good means that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone. No one should be excluded from the gifts of creation. Pope Paul VI spoke about this 50 years ago in his encyclical Populorum Progressio (On the Development of Peoples) This encyclical remains one of the most important on Catholic Social Teaching, calling for the fairer division of the riches of the world to be a goal for all.

“If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17

4. The option for the poor

The option for the poor reminds us of God’s preferential love for the poorest and most vulnerable people. God’s love is universal; he does not side with oppressors, but loves the humble. This principle is believed to have originated from the Liberation Theology movement in Latin America. For the first time, people living in poverty in the slums were holding the Bible in their own hands and imagining a world free from injustice.

"To make an option for the poor,... is to make an option for Jesus." Gustavo Gutierrez

5. Peace

Peace is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ, the Prince of Peace, sacrificed himself with love on the cross. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “Peace is not just the absence of war. It involves mutual respect and confidence between peoples and nations. It involves collaboration and binding agreements.“ There is a close relationship in Catholic teaching between peace and justice. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among human beings.

“Peace… is an order that is founded in truth, nurtured and animated by charity” Pope John XIII Pacem In Terris 1963

6. Creation and the environment

In the first pages of the Bible we read how God created the sun and the stars, the water and earth, and every creature. We believe Christ is the redeemer of all creation. In 2015, Pope Francis brought together decades of Church teaching in the encyclical, Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be”). In this deeply influential letter, Pope Francis invites everyone on the planet to consider how our actions are affecting the earth and the poorest people. Everything is interconnected, and all of creation praises God. It is our Christian vocation to care for creation.

“Along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society.” Pope Francis - Laudato Si

7. The dignity of work and participation

The dignity of work has been a key principle of Catholic social teaching from the very beginning. Since then, Church teaching has upheld the dignity of work and participation. The human person should always come before the pursuit of profit. Work is an essential part of our human dignity and everyone has the right to participate.

“Workers are not to be treated as slaves; justice demands that the dignity of human personality be respected in them, Pope Leo XIII - Rerum Novarum