Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching, commonly abbreviated as CST, is a Catholic doctrine on matters of human dignity and the common good in society. The ideas address oppression, the role of the state, subsidiarity, social organization, concern for social justice, and issues of wealth distribution. Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical letter Rerum novarum, which advocated economic distributism. Its roots can be traced to the writings of Catholic theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo. It is also derived from the concepts present in the Bible and the cultures of the ancient Near East.
|Part of a series on|
|Catholic social teaching|
This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (April 2021)
|Part of a series on|
According to Pope John Paul II, the foundation of social justice "rests on the threefold cornerstones of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity". According to Pope Benedict XVI, its purpose "is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just... [The church] has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice ... cannot prevail and prosper", Pope Francis, however, in the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper, made mercy "the key word of his pontificate, ... (while) Scholastic theology has neglected this topic and turned it into a mere subordinate theme of justice.": 31–32
Catholic social teaching is distinctive in its consistent critiques of modern social and political ideologies both of the left and of the right: liberalism, communism, anarchism, feminism, atheism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, and Nazism have all been condemned, at least in their pure forms, by several popes since the late nineteenth century.
Catholic social doctrine has always tried to find an equilibrium between respect for human liberty, including the right to private property and subsidiarity, and concern for the whole society, including the weakest and poorest.