Catholic Social Teachings

The Catholic church has a set of what is known as the principles of ‘Catholic Social Teachings’ which you can find below and read it for general knowledge or should you aspire to uphold and apply these values in your personal life.

We encourage our viewers to look at the reflection questions provided below and to ponder on them when watching the films to see how these values and principles are evident in the film. This is done with the aim to provide a more meaningful viewing experience so we hope our audiences can take away and be inspired by.

We have also provided a copy for download here.

Principles of the Catholic Social Teaching

(adapted from Salt of the Earth and Salt and Pepper, Caritas Singapore’s Study Guides and Readings)

1. Dignity of the Human Person. (The human person is what matters most!)
The human person is loved by God infinitely and created in God’s own image. Moreover, God in Christ is united with every human being through the incarnation. All these mean that each one of us has a special dignity and this principle forms the basis of the whole social teaching. Every human person is of infinite dignity. It implies that the human being should never be treated as a “means to an end”. All have equal dignity with one another – no person or group of people is of greater or less worth than others. All of society must be directed towards the well-being of the human person.

2. Principle of Association (We need to come together)
The full realization of our dignity only happens when we are in community. In other words, we are not meant to be alone; God wants us to be in communion with each other. The most basic expression of this communion is the family. Others include our local communities and associations of people with common interests. These groupings are a way for us to grow in our relationship with God and contribute to the larger community. It is impossible to promote the dignity of the human person without also respecting these natural networks of relationships that people form.

3. Principle of Subsidiarity (Our communities should be helped to flourish)
Respecting the natural associations of people means supporting their growth and development. The word ‘subsidiarity’ comes from ‘subsidium’ which means ‘to help’. These natural groupings should be helped to flourish and not be disempowered by having a higher-level body take over what these groups can do for themselves.

4. Principle of Participation (We must make a difference)
In line with our dignity, each of us has a right to have a say and take action in what determines our future, whether as individuals or in groups. This applies to all realms of life – economic, social, political, faith and culture. In fact, participation is not just a right, but a responsibility as well.

5. The Common Good (Our aim is the good of all)
The aim of our participation must be the good of the broader community and not just our own individual needs. Seeking what’s good for the community does not mean just seeking what suits the majority. The Principle of the Common Good reminds us that every person matters. Hence, we need to strive for solutions that address the concerns of every person – for the good of every person and for the good of the whole person (material, spiritual, social, emotional and intellectual needs).

6. Principle of the Universal Destination of Goods (God wants what God has made to be enjoyed by everyone)
The common good is based on the truth that God intended for all the earth’s resources to belong to and enjoyed by everyone. The Church upholds the right to private property but in our efforts to feed ourselves and our families, we need to see to it that others also have opportunity to do likewise, especially the poorest of the poor. Seeing that it is the voiceless and most vulnerable that are often neglected, the Church urges us to have a “preferential option for the poor”.

7. Principle of Solidarity (We’re in this together!)
The Church teaches us to be one heart with others, especially the suffering. In contrast, humankind has set up many boundaries within itself – the have and have nots, the local and foreigners, ‘us’ and ‘them’ etc. Solidarity means “whatever happens to others happens to me” – in a figurative sense – even if it is happening miles away! Hence, we work towards the well-being of others as our joint responsibility.

8. Dignity of Work (Our work is holy)
Human work even in its humblest form has an intrinsic dignity, because it flows from the hands of one who is infinitely special in the eyes of God. God has given us a role in co-creating the world and making it a better place. Hence, whatever work we do, whether cleaning tables or clearing arteries, we can be proud of it as long as it promotes human development. The dignity of work also implies the need to ensure that all people have working conditions worthy of the children of God.

9. Principle of Dignity of Creation (The environment is holy)
All of creation is made by God and is intrinsically good. This included all we find in our environment – from the smallest insect to the highest mountain.  In fact, it is in creation that we find God.  Moreover, the environment is put under care as part of our mission to make the world a better place.  When we abuse the environment for our own ends, we ultimately destroy our own destiny.

10. Principle of the Promotion of Peace (Peace is what we seek)
All of creation is made by God and is intrinsically good. This included all we find in our environment – from the smallest insect to the highest mountain.  In fact, it is in creation that we find God.  Moreover, the environment is put under care as part of our mission to make the world a better place.  When we abuse the environment for our own ends, we ultimately destroy our own destiny.

***

Reflection Questions:

Which one or two Catholic Social Teachings (CST) resonated with you in the film you watched and why? 

Do you see aspects of the film and the CSTs being reflected in our society today? Think about your experience in your home, social circle, workplace, school, church etc.