Catholic Social Thought
Catholic social thought is a major body of work spanning over 120 years, informed by Gospel values and the lived experience of Christian reflection. It draws on the Christian traditions as well as from different historical, political and social contexts.
Also known as Catholic Social Teaching (CST), it is often said to be the Church's 'best kept secret'. In fact, it is intended as a 'gift to all people of goodwill', not only for those within the Catholic Church.
CST is underpinned by a set of principles. It is not intended to constitute an ideology, a political third way or a model. The principles are non partisan, and meant to be used as tools for reflection, criteria for good judgment and guidelines for action. The principles are helpful in the process of discerning what is 'the common good' in any given context - see below.
Essentially, the principles of Catholic social thought are meant for all to use, and cover:
human dignity; respect for life; community and participation; care for creation; dignity in work; peace and reconciliation; solidarity and subsidiarity, and the preferential option for the poor.
- Together for the Common Good draws on these principles: please see our page: 'Common Good Thinking'
- To discover more about Catholic Social Teaching, we recommend www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk. To find the core documents (known as encyclicals), click here.
- To study Catholic Social Teaching in depth, we recommend:
- the Virtual Plater site which contains excellent module material for online study, and
- St Mary's University's Postgraduate Certificate in Catholic Social Teaching, a one year part time course (the only complete programme in Catholic Social Teaching taught face to face in the UK and Ireland).
- You will find a rich resource of reference material in our 'Further Study Materials' pages and in our Opinion Pieces
You will find a few taster links below:
Laudato si' (Sulla cura della casa comune) (Praise Be to You: On the care for our common home). The papal encyclical by Pope Francis on creation and the environment, published on June 18, 2015. This perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years, since it is addressed not just to Catholics, or Christians, but to everyone on Earth. The environment, in the Pope’s use of the word, is not something 'out there' - nature as opposed to the human world. Rather, the term describes the relationship between nature and humans, who are inextricably linked and part of each other.
Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) (Pope Francis, 26 November 2013) An 84-page document, written in his own words, was the first major work since his election. It is known as an apostolic exhortation and amounts to an official platform for his papacy. In it he calls unfettered capitalism "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality. He criticises the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".
Listen again to BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Left Turn to Catholic Social Teaching? Matthew Taylor, former policy advisor to New Labour, ponders the tradition and asks what it might offer to post credit crunch polities which are looking for ways to regenerate. With Dr Anna Rowlands, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Jon Cruddas MP and Lord Glasman...
A 14-minute video interview with Dr Anna Rowlands about her chapter on Catholic Social Teaching in T4CG's book of 13 essays, Together for the Common Good: Towards a National Conversation and another video where she discusses The Living Wage.
How is 'the common good' related to Catholic social thought?
Please see our page: 'Common Good Thinking' plus you may find the following links helpful:
Together for the Common Good: Towards a National Conversation (Eds Sagovsky and McGrail), our book of essays
Calling People of Goodwill: The Bible and the Common Good, our Bible study booklet