CST2 Principles and Values


"The permanent principles of the Church's social doctrine [ 341] constitute the very heart of Catholic social teaching. These are the principles of: the dignity of the human person, which has already been dealt with in the preceding chapter, and which is the foundation of all the other principles and content of the Church's social doctrine; [342] the common good; subsidiarity; and solidarity." (CSDC 160)



"The common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily”.[346]" The common good does not consist in the simple sum of the particular goods of each subject of a social entity…. The common good, in fact, can be understood as the social and community dimension of the moral good. (CSDC 164)


“A society… at the service of the human being at every level … has the common good — the good of all people and of the whole person [347] — as its primary goal.” (CSDC 165). “The responsibility for attaining the common good, besides falling to individual persons, belongs also to the State, since the common good is the reason that the political authority exists[355]. The State, in fact, must guarantee the coherency, unity and organization of the civil society of which it is an expression[356], in order that the common good may be attained with the contribution of every citizen. The individual person, the family or intermediate groups are not able to achieve their full development by themselves for living a truly human life. Hence the necessity of political institutions, the purpose of which is to make available to persons the necessary material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods. The goal of life in society is in fact the historically attainable common good[357]. ” (CSDC 168) “To ensure the common good, the government of each country has the specific duty to harmonize the different sectoral interests with the requirements of justice[358]… including the minority.” (CSDC 169)


The common good of society is not an end in itself; it has value only in reference to attaining the ultimate ends of the person and the universal common good of the whole of creation. God is the ultimate end of his creatures and for no reason may the common good be deprived of its transcendent dimension, which moves beyond the historical dimension while at the same time fulfilling it[359]. This perspective reaches its fullness by virtue of faith in Jesus' Passover, which sheds clear light on the attainment of humanity's true common good. Our history — the personal and collective effort to elevate the human condition — begins and ends in Jesus: thanks to him, by means of him and in light of him every reality, including human society, can be brought to its Supreme Good, to its fulfilment. A purely historical and materialistic vision would end up transforming the common good into a simple socio-economic well-being, without any transcendental goal, that is, without its most intimate reason for existing. ” (CSDC 170)


“Among the numerous implications of the common good, immediate significance is taken on by the principle of the universal destination of goods: “God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity”[360]….  The human person cannot do without the material goods that correspond to his primary needs and constitute the basic conditions for his existence; these goods are absolutely indispensable if he is to feed himself, grow, communicate, associate with others, and attain the highest purposes to which he is called[362].” (CSDC 171)

“The universal right to use the goods of the earth is based on the principle of the universal destination of goods. Each person must have access to the level of well-being necessary for his full development. The right to the common use of goods is the “first principle of the whole ethical and social order” [363] and “the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine”[364]. It is innate in individual persons, in every person, and has priority with regard to any human intervention concerning goods, to any legal system concerning the same, to any economic or social system or method: “All other rights, whatever they are, including property rights and the right of free trade must be subordinated to this norm [the universal destination of goods]; they must not hinder it, but must rather expedite its application. It must be considered a serious and urgent social obligation to refer these rights to their original purpose”[366].” (CSDC 172)


“By means of work and making use of the gift of intelligence, people are able to exercise dominion over the earth and make it a fitting home: “In this way, he makes part of the earth his own, precisely the part which he has acquired through work; this is the origin of individual property”[368]. Private property is an essential element of an authentically social and democratic economic policy, and it is the guarantee of a correct social order. The Church's social doctrine requires that ownership of goods be equally accessible to all[370], so that all may become, at least in some measure, owners, and it excludes recourse to forms of “common and promiscuous dominion”[371].” (CSDC 176)


“Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute and untouchable: “On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone”[372]. …This principle is not opposed to the right to private property[374] but indicates the need to regulate it. Private property,… is not an end but a means[375].” (CSDC 177)


“The ancient form of community property also has a particular importance; though it can be found in economically advanced countries, it is particularly characteristic of the social structure of many indigenous peoples. This is a form of property that has such a profound impact on the economic, cultural and political life of those peoples that it constitutes a fundamental element of their survival and well-being. The defence and appreciation of community property must not exclude, however, an awareness of the fact that this type of property also is destined to evolve. If actions were taken only to preserve its present form, there would be the risk of tying it to the past and in this way compromising it[381]. An equitable distribution of land remains ever critical, especially in developing countries and in countries that have recently changed from systems based on collectivities or colonization[382]. In rural areas, the possibility of acquiring land through opportunities offered by labour and credit markets is a necessary condition for access to other goods and services. Besides constituting an effective means for safeguarding the environment, this possibility represents a system of social security that can be put in place also in those countries with a weak administrative structure.” (CSDC 180)


 “The principle of the universal destination of goods requires …the preferential option for the poor … be reaffirmed in all its force[384].” (CSDC 182)

“The poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time (cf. Mt 25:31-46):” (CSDC 183) …“When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice”[392].” (CSDC 184)



“Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them”[399]. (CSDC 186)


On the basis of this principle, all societies of a superior order must adopt attitudes of help (“subsidium”) — therefore of support, promotion, development — with respect to lower-order societies. Subsidiarity, understood in the positive sense as economic, institutional or juridical assistance offered to lesser social entities, entails a corresponding series of negative implications that require the State to refrain from anything that would de facto restrict the existential space of the smaller essential cells of society. Their initiative, freedom and responsibility must not be supplanted.” (CSDC 186) “The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms.” (CSDC 186) “Various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions[401].(CSDC 188)


The characteristic implication of subsidiarity is participation[402],. Participation is a duty to be fulfilled consciously by all, with responsibility and with a view to the common good[404]. In this perspective it becomes absolutely necessary to encourage participation above all of the most disadvantaged, as well as the occasional rotation of political leaders in order to forestall the establishment of hidden privileges. Moreover, strong moral pressure is needed, so that the administration of public life will be the result of the shared responsibility of each individual with regard to the common good.” (CSDC 189)



Another word for solidarity is friendship. It is a social force for unity between peoples. “Solidarity highlights in a particular way … the common path of individuals and peoples towards an ever more committed unity. Never before has there been such a widespread awareness of the bond of interdependence between individuals and peoples, which is found at every level[413]. (CSDC 192)


"Solidarity must be seen above all in its value as a moral virtue that determines the order of institutions. On the basis of this principle the “structures of sin”[417] that dominate relationships between individuals and peoples must be overcome. They must be purified and transformed into structures of solidarity through the creation or appropriate modification of laws, market regulations, and juridical systems." (CSDC 193)



Besides the principles that must guide the building of a society worthy of man, the Church's social doctrine also indicates fundamental values. All social values are inherent in the dignity of the human person, whose authentic development they foster. Essentially, these values are: truth, freedom, justice, love[427]. ” (CSDC 197)


As we have seen, the human intellect seeks truth. Society must be based on the truth.

Men and women have the specific duty to move always towards the truth, to respect it and bear responsible witness to it[431].” (CSDC 198)


We have already explored freedom and the human will. Society should be a free society within the limits of the moral law.

Freedom is the highest sign in man of his being made in the divine image and, consequently, is a sign of the sublime dignity of every human person[435].” (CSDC 199)



Justice is a value that accompanies the exercise of the corresponding cardinal moral virtue[441]. According to its most classic formulation, it “consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour”[442]. From a subjective point of view, justice is translated into behaviour that is based on the will to recognize the other as a person, while, from an objective point of view, it constitutes the decisive criteria of morality in the intersubjective and social sphere[443].” (CSDC 201) “The Church's social Magisterium constantly calls for the most classical forms of justice to be respected: commutative, distributive and legal justice[444]. Ever greater importance has been given to social justice[445], which represents a real development in general justice, the justice that regulates social relationships according to the criterion of observance of the law.” (CSDC 202)


The full truth about man makes it possible to move beyond a contractualistic vision of justice, which is a reductionist vision, and to open up also for justice the new horizon of solidarity and love. “By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love”[448]. In fact, the Church's social doctrine places alongside the value of justice that of solidarity, in that it is the privileged way of peace. If peace is the fruit of justice, “today one could say, with the same exactness and the same power of biblical inspiration (cf. Is 32:17; Jas 3:18): Opus solidaritatis pax, peace as the fruit of solidarity”[449]. The goal of peace, in fact, “will certainly be achieved through the putting into effect of social and international justice, but also through the practice of the virtues which favour togetherness, and which teach us to live in unity, so as to build in unity, by giving and receiving, a new society and a better world”[450].” (CSDC 203)


“Among all paths, even those sought and taken in order to respond to the ever new forms of current social questions, the “more excellent way” (cf. 1 Cor 12:31) is that marked out by love.” (CSDC 204) “Love presupposes and transcends justice, which “must find its fulfilment in charity”[452]. In fact, “in every sphere of interpersonal relationships justice must, so to speak, becorrected' to a considerable extent by that love which, as St. Paul proclaims, ‘is patient and kind' or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity”[455].” (CSDC 205) “No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever succeed in persuading men and peoples to live in unity, brotherhood and peace; no line of reasoning will ever be able to surpass the appeal of love. Only love, in its quality as “form of the virtues”[456], can animate and shape social interaction, moving it towards peace in the context of a world that is ever more complex.” (CSDC 207)



 “Enlightened by the radiance of the biblical message, the Church considers the family as the first natural society, with underived rights that are proper to it, and places it at the centre of social life. Relegating the family “to a subordinate or secondary role, excluding it from its rightful position in society, would be to inflict grave harm on the authentic growth of society as a whole”[462]. The family, in fact, is born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman[463]. It possesses its own specific and original social dimension, in that it is the principal place of interpersonal relationships, the first and vital cell of society[464]. The family is a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order.” (CSDC 211) “Because of all this, the Lord himself is the guarantor of the love and fidelity of married life (cf. Mal 2:14-15). (CSDC 210)


“A society built on a family scale is the best guarantee against drifting off course into individualism or collectivism, because within the family the person is always at the centre of attention as an end and never as a means. (CSDC 213) “The family possesses inviolable rights and finds its legitimization in human nature and not in being recognized by the State. The family, then, does not exist for society or the State, but society and the State exist for the family. In their relationship to the family, society and the State are seriously obligated to observe the principle of subsidiarity.” (CSDC 214)


Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.”(CSDC 224) "The nature of conjugal love requires the stability of the married relationship and its indissolubility. The introduction of divorce into civil legislation has fuelled a relativistic vision of the marriage bond and is broadly manifested as it becomes “truly a plague on society”[497]. (CSDC 225) “The Church does not abandon those who have remarried after a divorce. She prays for them and encourages them in the difficulties that they encounter in the spiritual life, sustaining them in faith and in hope.” (CSDC 2256)“Making “de facto unions” legally equivalent to the family would discredit the model of the family, which cannot be brought about in a precarious relationship between persons [502] but only in a permanent union originating in marriage, that is, in a covenant between one man and one women, founded on the mutual and free choice that entails full conjugal communion oriented towards procreation.” (CSDC 227) “Connected with de facto unions is the particular problem concerning demands for the legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons, which is increasingly the topic of public debate. Homosexual persons are to be fully respected in their human dignity [505] and encouraged to follow God's plan with particular attention in the exercise of chastity[506]. “If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties”[508].” (CSDC 228)



"Conjugal love is by its nature open to the acceptance of life[512]. Procreation expresses the social subjectivity of the family and sets in motion a dynamism of love and solidarity between the generations upon which society is founded. " (CSDC 230) "The family founded on marriage is truly the sanctuary of lifeChristian families have then, in virtue of the sacrament received, a particular mission that makes them witnesses and proclaimers of the Gospel of life." (CSDC 231)


"Concerning the “methods” for practising responsible procreation, the first to be rejected as morally illicit are sterilization and abortion[521].Also to be rejected is recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms[524 " (CSDC 233)


"The desire to be a mother or a father does not justify any “right to children”, whereas the rights of the unborn child are evident. The unborn child must be guaranteed the best possible conditions of existence through the stability of a family founded on marriage, through the complementarities of the two persons, father and mother[530]. (CSDC 235) The first right of the child is to “be born in a real family”[556], a right that has not always been respected and that today is subject to new violations because of developments in genetic technology." (CSDC 244)


It must be repeated that the ethical unacceptability of all reproductive techniques. Equally unacceptable are methods that separate the unitive act from the procreative act by making use of laboratory techniques." (CSDC 235) "An issue of particular social and cultural significance today, because of its many and serious moral implications, is human cloning. " (CSDC 236) "Parents, as ministers of life, must never forget that the spiritual dimension of procreation is to be given greater consideration than any other aspect." (CSDC 237)


"In the work of education, the family forms man in the fullness of his personal dignity according to all his dimensions, including the social dimension. " (CSDC 238) "The family has a completely original and irreplaceable role in raising children[542]. (CSDC 239)


"The Church's social doctrine constantly points out the need to respect the dignity of children. The rights of children must be legally protected within juridical systems. The first right of the child is to “be born in a real family”[556], a right that has not always been respected and that today is subject to new violations because of developments in genetic technology." (CSDC 244) "The situation of a vast number of the world's children is far from being satisfactory, due to the lack of favourable conditions for their integral development despite the existence of a specific international juridical instrument for protecting their rights[557], an instrument that is binding on practically all members of the international community. " (CSDC 245)


"Family and work are united by a very special relationship. …Work is essential insofar as it represents the condition that makes it possible to establish a family, for the means by which the family is maintained are obtained through work. Work also conditions the process of personal development, since a family afflicted by unemployment runs the risk of not fully achieving its end[563]. " (CSDC 249) "In order to protect this relationship between family and work, an element that must be appreciated and safeguarded is that of a family wage, a wage sufficient to maintain a family and allow it to live decently[564]. " (CSDC 250) "In the relationship between the family and work, particular attention must be given to the issue of the work of women in the family, more generally to the recognition of the so-called work of “housekeeping”, which also involves the responsibility of men as husbands and fathers. " (CSDC 251)


The duty to cultivate and care for the earth

"Work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall; it is therefore not a punishment or curse. " (CSDC 256)

 Jesus, a man of work

"In his preaching, Jesus teaches that we should appreciate work. " (CSDC 259) “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27) (CSDC 261) "Work represents a fundamental dimension of human existence as participation not only in the act of creation but also in that of redemption. " (CSDC 263) "No Christian, in light of the fact that he belongs to a united and fraternal community, should feel that he has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others (cf. 2 Thes 3:6-12). " (CSDC 264)

The subjective must take precedence over the objective dimensions of work

"Human work has a twofold significance: objective and subjective. In the objective sense, it is the sum of activities, resources, instruments and technologies used by men and women to produce things, to exercise dominion over the earth, in the words of the Book of Genesis. …As a person, man is therefore the subject of work”[586]." (CSDC 270) "This subjectivity gives to work its particular dignity, which does not allow that it be considered a simple commodity or an impersonal element of the apparatus for productivity. The subjective dimension of work must take precedence over the objective dimension, " (CSDC 271) "Human work not only proceeds from the person, but it is also essentially ordered to and has its final goal in the human person. …work is for man and not man for work. " (CSDC 272)

Labour has priority over capital

"Work, because of its subjective or personal character, is superior to every other factor connected with productivity; this principle applies, in particular, with regard to capital. " (CSDC 276) "Labour has an intrinsic priority over capital. …There must exist between work and capital a relationship of complementarities." (CSDC 277) " In our present day, this conflict shows aspects that are new and perhaps more disquieting: scientific and technological progress and the globalization of markets, of themselves a source of development and progress, expose workers to the risk of being exploited by the mechanisms of the economy and by the unrestrained quest for productivity.[602]" (CSDC 279)

Work, the right to participate

"The relationship between labour and capital also finds expression when workers participate in ownership, management and profits. … These would be bodies enjoying real autonomy with regard to public authorities, pursuing their specific aims in honest collaboration with each other and in subordination to the demands of the common good. These would be living communities both in form and in substance, as members of each body would be looked upon and treated as persons and encouraged to take an active part in the life of the body”.[604]" (CSDC 281)

For example Mondragon…. ###

The relationship between labour and private property

"Property, which is acquired in the first place through work, must be placed at the service of work." (CSDC 282) "Private and public property, as well as the various mechanisms of the economic system, must be oriented to an economy of service to mankind, so that they contribute to putting into effect the principle of the universal destination of goods" (CSDC 283)

Rest from work is a right

"Rest from work is a right.[609] " (CSDC 284) "Sunday is a day that should be made holy by charitable activity, devoting time to family and relatives, as well as to the sick, the infirm and the elderly. Moreover, Sunday is an appropriate time for the reflection, silence, study and meditation that foster the growth of the interior Christian life. " (CSDC 285)"Public authorities have the duty to ensure that, for reasons of economic productivity, citizens are not denied time for rest and divine worship. " (CSDC 286) "The apex of biblical teaching on work is the commandment of the Sabbath rest. (CSDC 258)


"Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. “Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. " (CSDC 288) The State has the duty to “promote active employment policies” (CSDC 291) and for there to be “effective international cooperation among States … that safeguard the right to work." (CSDC 292)

This is a focus of the Liberal party.

Women and the right to work

"The feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, therefore the presence of women in the workplace must also be guaranteed" (CSDC 295)

Child labour

"Child labour, in its intolerable forms, constitutes a kind of violence that is less obvious than others but it is not for this reason any less terrible.[639] " (CSDC 296)

Immigration and work

"Immigration can be a resource for development rather than an obstacle to it. " (CSDC 297) "Institutions in host countries must keep careful watch to prevent the spread of the temptation to exploit foreign labourers, denying them the same rights enjoyed by nationals, rights that are to be guaranteed to all without discrimination." (CSDC 298)

The world of agriculture and the right to work

"Agricultural labour merits special attention, given the important social, cultural and economic role [and] the significance in safeguarding the natural environment. “Radical and urgent changes are therefore needed in order to restore to agriculture — and to rural people — their just value as the basis for a healthy economy, within the social community's development as a whole”.[647]" (CSDC 299) "In some countries a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable, in order to overcome the obstacles that an unproductive system of latifundium — condemned by the Church's social doctrine [648] — places on the path of genuine economic development. " (CSDC 300)


The dignity of workers and the respect for their rights

"The rights of workers, like all other rights, are based on the nature of the human person and on his transcendent dignity. The Church's social Magisterium has seen fit to list some of these rights, in the hope that they will be recognized in juridical systems: the right to a just wage; [651] the right to rest; [652] the right “to a working environment and to manufacturing processes which are not harmful to the workers' physical health or to their moral integrity”; [653] the right that one's personality in the workplace should be safeguarded “without suffering any affront to one's conscience or personal dignity”; [654] the right to appropriate subsidies that are necessary for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families; [655] the right to a pension and to insurance for old age, sickness, and in case of work-related accidents; [656] the right to social security connected with maternity; [657] the right to assemble and form associations.[658] These rights are often infringed, as is confirmed by the sad fact of workers who are underpaid and without protection or adequate representation. It often happens that work conditions for men, women and children, especially in developing countries, are so inhumane that they are an offence to their dignity and compromise their health." (CSDC 301)

The right to fair remuneration and

"Remuneration is the most important means for achieving justice in work relationships.[659] The “just wage is the legitimate fruit of work”.[660] “Remuneration for labour is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good”.[661]" (CSDC 302)

This is a Labour policy.


"The economic well-being of a country is not measured exclusively by the quantity of goods it produces but also by taking into account the manner in which they are produced and the level of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone access to what is necessary for their personal development and perfection. (CSDC 303)

Income distribution

 …Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen." (CSDC 303)

The right to strike

"The Church's social doctrine recognizes the legitimacy of striking “when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit”,[663] when every other method for the resolution of disputes has been ineffectual.[664] " (CSDC 304)


The importance of unions

"The Magisterium recognizes the fundamental role played by labour unions, whose existence is connected with the right to form associations or unions to defend the vital interests of workers employed in the various professions. (CSDC 305) "Beyond their function of defending and vindicating, unions have the duty of acting as representatives working for “the proper arrangement of economic life” and of educating the social consciences of workers. … Unions do not, however, have the character of “political parties” struggling for power, and they should not be forced to submit to the decisions of political parties nor be too closely linked to them." (CSDC 307)

New forms of solidarity

"Given the changes that have taken place in the world of work, solidarity can be recovered, and perhaps with a firmer foundation in respect to the past, if the effort is made to rediscover the subjective value of work: “there must be continued study of the subject of work and of the subject's living conditions”. For this reason, “there is a need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers”.[674]" (CSDC 308)

This is relevant when it comes to multinationals which are able to shift factories to third world countries and therefore pay workers less. It is very difficult to force these companies to pay their workers adequate wages. New international organisations are needed.


"The phenomenon of globalization is one of the most important causes of the current change in the organization of work. This phenomenon brings about new forms of production where plants are located away from where strategies are decided and far from the markets where the goods are consumed. " (CSDC 310) "… The demands of competition, technological innovation and the complexities of financial fluxes must be brought into harmony with the defence of workers and their rights. " (CSDC 314) 


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Submitted by rjzaar on May 8, 2017 - 11:00am
Modfied: August 29, 2017 - 12:57pm
catholic social teaching

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