Catholic Charities of Idaho’s mission is rooted in the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching, an ever-growing body of official Church documents that articulate the social message of the Gospel and lay a framework for how Catholics should put the principles of their faith into daily, faith-filled action on behalf of the Gospel.
Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.
—from Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Belief in the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all Catholic Social Teaching. Human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the starting point for a moral vision for society. This principle is grounded in the idea that the person is made in the image of God. The person is the clearest reflection of God among us.
Call to Family, Community and Participation
The human person is both sacred and social. We realize our dignity and rights in relationship with others, in community. Human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. How we organize our society — in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The obligation to “love our neighbor” has an individual dimension, but it also requires a broader social commitment. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to the good of the whole society, to the common good.
Rights and Responsibilities
Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency – starting with food, shelter, clothing, employment, health care and education. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities — to one another, to our families and to the larger society
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. The “option for the poor” is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property and to economic initiative.
We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, economic and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Since loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world, we are called to work globally for peace and justice.
Care for God’s Creation
The goods of the earth are gifts from God, and they are intended by God for the benefit of everyone. There is a “social mortgage” that guides our use of the world’s goods, and we have a responsibility to care for these goods as stewards and trustees, not as mere consumers and users. How we treat the environment is a measure of our stewardship, a sign of our respect for the Creator. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation.
We encourage you to explore additional resources and educational opportunities related to Catholic Social Teaching: