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Catholic Social Teachings: Home





Understanding Catholic Social Teaching

Major Documents

Major Documents


Fratelli Tutti On Fraternity and Social Friendship | Francis | 2020

In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia. What reigns instead is a cool, comfortable and globalised indifference, born of deep disillusionment concealed behind a deceptive illusion: thinking that we are all-powerful, while failing to realise that we are all in the same boat.

Pope Francis, 2020

Laudato Si'

Laudato Si' On the Care of Our Common Home | Francis | 2015

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.

Pope Francis, 2015

Evangelii Gaudium (On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World

Evangelii Gaudium On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World | Francis | 2013

More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). 

Pope Francis, 2013

Caritas in Veritate (Integral Human Development in Love and Truth

Caritas in Veritate Integral Human Development in Love and Truth | Benedict XVI | 2009

A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.

Pope Benedict XVI, 2009

Centesimus Annus (The One Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum

Centesimus Annus The One Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum | John Paul II | 1991

When there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration. The richer class has many ways of shielding itself, and stands less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back on, and must chiefly depend on the assistance of the State. It is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for and protected by the government." (Rerum Novarum)…the more that individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require the care and concern of others, and in particular the intervention of governmental authority.

Pope John Paul II, 1991

Sollicitudo rei Socialis

Sollicitudo rei Socialis On Social Concerns | John Paul II | 1987

By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure justice and equality for every human being, an end to all division and a human society built on love and peace.

Pope John Paul II

Laborem Exercens

Laborem Exercens On Human Labour | John Paul II | 1981

The word of God’s revelation is profoundly marked by the fundamental truth that man, created in the image of God, shares by his work in the activity of the Creator and that, within the limits of his own human capabilities, man in a sense continues to develop that activity, and perfects it as he advances further and further in the discovery of the resources and values contained in the whole of creation. 

Pope John Paul II, 1981

Evangelii Nuntiandi

Evangelii Nuntiandi Evangelization in the Modern World | Paul VI | 1975

Do you really believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you really preach what you live? The witness of life has become more than ever an essential condition for real effectiveness in preaching.

Pope Paul VI, 1975

Justice in the World

Justice in the World | Synod of Bishops | 1971

Unless combated and overcome by social and political action, the influence of the new industrial and technological order favors the concentration of wealth, power and decision-making in the hands of a small public or private controlling group. Economic injustice and lack of social participation keep people from attaining their basic human ant civil rights.

World Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1971

Octogesima Adveniens

Octogesima Adveniens A Call to Action | Paul VI |1971

Let every person examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action. It is too easy to throw back on others the responsibility for injustice, if at the same time one does not realize how each one shares in it personally, and how personal conversion is needed first. 

Pope Paul VI, 1971

Populorum Progressio

Populorum Progressio On the Development of Peoples | Paul VI | 1967

Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of all humanity.

Pope Paul VI, 1967

Gaudium et Spes

Gaudium et Spes Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World | Vatican II |1965

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.

Second Vatican Council, 1965

Pacem in Terris

Pacem in Terris Peace on Earth | John XXIII | 1963

This means that, if any government does not acknowledge the rights of the human person or violates them, it not only fails in its duty, but its orders completely lack juridical force. 

Pope John XXIII, 1963

Mater et Magistra

Mater et Magistra Christianity and Social Progress | John XXIII | 1961

It is necessary that public authorities have a correct understanding of the common good. This embraces the sum total of those conditions of social living, whereby people are enabled more fully and more readily to achieve their own perfection.

Pope John XXIII, 1961

Quadragesimo Anno

Quadragesimo Anno After Forty Years | Pius XI | 1931

...the riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and classes that ... the common good of all society will be kept inviolate.

Pope Pius XI, 1931

Rerum Novarum

Rerum Novarum On the Condition of the Working Classes | Leo XIII | 1891

The oppressed workers, above all, ought to be liberated from the savagery of greedy men, who inordinately use human beings as things for gain. Assuredly, neither justice nor humanity can countenance the exaction of so much work that the spirit is dulled from excessive toil and that along with it the body sinks crushed from exhaustion. The working energy of a man, like his entire nature, is circumscribed by definite limits beyond which it cannot go.

- Pope Leo XIII, 1891