As a social service organization, Catholic Charities strives to help and provide hope to everyone who comes to us regardless of faith. As we serve people of all faiths (and those of no faith), we embrace and are motivated by the principles of Catholic Social Teachings that guides What We Believe...
What We Believe is based on the firm foundation of the Catholic Social Teaching, a collection of themes that has evolved over time in response to the challenges of the day. These themes include the belief that human life is sacred; that all humans have inherent dignity, rights, and responsibilities; that social structures like the family must be supported and the needs of the poor and vulnerable must be met.
Our Catholic identity and values enable us to truly be “universal,” which is what “Catholic” really means. The tenets of Catholic Social Teaching call us to serve everyone, regardless of their belief or background. That’s why we serve people of all faiths (and those of no faith) with the goal of transforming lives for the better. Below are excerpts from seven of the Catholic Social Teaching themes.
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and assisted suicide. The value of human life is being threatened by increasing use of the death penalty. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law, and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means learning that “loving our neighbor” has global dimensions in an interdependent world.
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.