Catholic Social Teaching
Pope Francis’s encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, was released on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. In his letter, Pope Francis said, “Wherever he went, he sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters”.
At St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Junior School, children learn about Catholic Social Teaching through a mixture of assemblies, taught lessons and projects. We have worked with Caritas to plan and organise fundraising events. We have also had a student led Charity Committee, who led the school in supporting a range of charities, chosen by the children, to support areas and initiatives close to their hearts.
Catholic Social Teaching encompasses a number of areas: Dignity of the Human Person, Solidarity, Stewardship, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Family and Community, Dignity of Work, Rights and Responsibilities. Children learn about each of these areas and begin to develop their understanding of their responsibilities towards themselves and each other. They begin to see how we are all connected, as a part of God’s family. Children realise how interconnected people around the world are and they learn about the importance of human life.
What is Catholic Social Teaching?
An authoritative Church teaching on social, political, and economic issues.
- It is informed by Gospel values and the lived experience of Christian reflection.
- It analyses that lived experience of Christian reflection from different historical, political, and social contexts.
- It provides principles for reflection, a criteria for judgment and guidelines for action.
- Thus, it enables us in our struggle to live our faith in justice and peace.
Dignity of the Human Person
We must recognise we are all brothers and sisters which requires us to respect, value and uphold a common dignity for ourselves and each other. As human beings we are created in the image and likeness of God so therefore we have an inherent worth and distinction. (Pacem in Terris & Laborem Exercens)
Family and Community
As humans we are not created to live alone, community is clearly linked in the history of humankind. One way for Catholics to practise solidarity is to participate in pursuing the common good for a community. Every member of society has a duty to develop this common good and every member has a right to enjoy the benefits brought about by it.
Respect for human life means respecting all of God’s creation. We must re-engage with our environment and take responsibility for it; live sustainably, live so that there are enough resources for everyone. Our environment influences almost all of our lives, and Catholic Social Teaching recognises that undervaluing makes us all poorer.
Dignity of Work
This theme looks at the importance of work, the dignity of work and the value of balance in our home and work lives. Catholic Social Teaching holds that work is not to be drudgery, but creative, positive and an intrinsic good. It is not however, all for yourself, ways to accumulate power and influence, but is rather to play our part in being co-creators in God’s loving act of creation.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Church teaches us that peace is central to the gospel and represents a challenge to many contemporary attitudes and assumptions. Pope Benedict XVI has challenged Christians to be true peacemakers bringing forgiveness and non-violent solutions to situations of hurt and violence.
Solidarity is an important concept for Christians and is one of the most mystical and deeply human founding concepts of the social teaching of the Church. It is based on the belief that together we can make a difference and together we are much stronger. When we value fellow human beings, we respect each other as unique individuals and we can stand up for what is right for one another. (Populorum Progressio, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis & Centesimus Annus)
Option for the Poor
The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis & Centesimus Annus)