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Catholic Social Teaching

The Church's interventions in public policy are all based on the principles of "Catholic social teaching".  This body of teaching has been developed over centuries, but has become particularly defined over the last century.  It represents the Church's perspective on applying the Gospel to the practical affairs of the public square. 

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The U.S. Bishops have identified seven major themes of Catholic social teaching:

Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the fundamental human right, on which all other rights are based.  In our society, human life is under direct attack (e.g., abortion, "assisted suicide",  euthanasia, violence, human trafficking), and indirectly (e.g., cloning, embryonic stem cell research).  All human lives must be protected by law and by individuals.

Call to Family, Community, and Participation

The human person is social by nature.  All our public and economic policies have an effect on individual human persons, and their ability to live and grow in community. Marriage and the family are the foundation for society and the authentic definition of marriage must be supported and strengthened, not undermined or redefined.

Rights and Responsibilities

Human dignity can only be ensured if basic rights are protected and people exercise responsibility for one another.  Fundamental rights like the right to life and religious freedom must always be recognized and defended. 

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

We have an obligation as a society to take special care of poor and vulnerable people.  All our public policies must be evaluated by how they impact "the least among us". 

The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

The human person should be the centerpiece of all economic policies -- people are more important than things or money.  Labor and economic policies must focus on the development of all, and respecting the right to work, to own and use property, and to organize into unions and other associations. 

Solidarity

The unity of the human family transcends any national, ideological, or ethnic boundaries.  We must stand united with our brothers and sisters around the world, and constantly strive for peace and justice.  We must particularly work to establish a just order in society, where war and any other violence are unthinkable. 

Care for God's Creation

"The  environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole" (Pope Benedict, Caritas in Veritate 48)