Additional Resources


U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: statement, Economic Justice for All: A Framework for Economic Life »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teaching on immigration law enforcement »

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops immigration resources »

Diocese of Richmond: Office of Justice and Peace »

Diocese of Arlington: Social Justice Ministries »

Church Teaching

Social Justice Issues

"The Church makes a moral judgment about economic and social matters, when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls requires it. In the moral order she bears a mission distinct from that of political authorities: the Church is concerned with the temporal aspects of the common good because they are ordered to the sovereign Good, our ultimate end. She strives to inspire right attitudes with respect to earthly goods and in socio-economic relationships."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2420

"The State cannot limit itself to "favoring one portion of the citizens", namely the rich and prosperous, nor can it "neglect the other", which clearly represents the majority of society. Otherwise, there would be a violation of that law of justice which ordains that every person should receive his due.  When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration. The richer class has many ways of shielding itself, and stands less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back on, and must chiefly depend on the assistance of the State. It is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for and protected by the Government."

-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 10

"Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."

-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 48

Poverty and Economic Justice

serving others"In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world's goods; the practice of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor's rights and render him what is his due; and the practice of solidarity, in accordance with the golden rule and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who 'though he was rich, yet for your sake ... became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich.’"

--Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2407

"All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions as well as to organize and join unions or other associations."

-- U.S. Catholic Bishops statement, Economic Justice for All

"All people, to the extent they are able, have a corresponding duty to work, a responsibility to provide for the needs of their families and an obligation to contribute to the broader society."

-- U.S. Catholic Bishops statement, Economic Justice for All

"Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs, and pursue justice in economic life."

-- U.S. Catholic Bishops statement, Economic Justice for All

Immigration, Migration and Refugees

"All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded."

-- Pope Benedict XVI, 2010 World Day of Migrants and Refugees

"The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2241

Three Basic Principles of Catholic Social Teaching on immigration, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • First Principle: People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.
  • Second Principle: A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration.
  • Third Principle: A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.

Health Care

"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2288

"The demands of the common good are dependent on the social conditions of each historical period and are strictly connected to respect for and the integral promotion of the person and his fundamental rights. These demands concern above all the commitment to peace, the organization of the State’s powers, a sound juridical system, the protection of the environment, and the provision of essential services to all, some of which are at the same time human rights: food, housing, work, education and access to culture, transportation, basic health care, the freedom of communication and expression, and the protection of religious freedom."

-- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 166

Environmental Stewardship

"In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. At the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error ... Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray."

-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 37

"It is the task of the State to provide for the defense and preservation of common goods such as the natural and human environments, which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces. Just as in the time of primitive capitalism the State had the duty of defending the basic rights of workers, so now, with the new capitalism, the State and all of society have the duty of defending those collective goods which, among others, constitute the essential framework for the legitimate pursuit of personal goals on the part of each individual."

-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 40