Catholic Social Teaching - An Introduction

An Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching

In this module, we explore what Catholic social teaching is and what it means for your school board.

Module Introduction

Catholic social teaching sums up the teachings of the Church on social issues. It promotes a vision of a just society that is grounded in the Bible and in the wisdom gathered from experience by the Christian community as it has responded to social justice issues through history. [1] 



Catholic social teaching, like everything else Christian, begins with the person and message of Jesus. Jesus offered no specific economic message, of course: instead, he proclaimed the advent of the reign of God.[2] However, “the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply”[3]. In order understand Catholic social teaching the School Board Manual suggest the need “to discern the signs of the times as they present themselves in the life of the community.”[4]

Doing Theology

We can use the CST method of ‘See, Judge, Act’ to consider the ‘signs of the times’ in our community. You will see this form of ‘doing theology’ used throughout these resources on CST.[5] I In the ‘See, Judge, Act’ method people reflect on experience and the reality of a situation (‘See’), consider what their faith, the Bible and the wisdom of the Church might be saying to the issue at hand (‘Judge’), and discern a response and take action (‘Act’). 

See (recognising the reality of a situation - not just with our eyes, what are we hearing, feeling, experiencing?)

What do consider the key personal and social issues confronting the families in our community? E.g. What are the financial constraints on them? What is the make-up of the various family types within our community? How might they be or not be coping?

Judge (reflecting in light of our faith; this is not interpreted as being judgmental but rather discerning and analytical)

What are the causes of these situations facing our community?
What do we think about this?
What does the Church/our faith/the gospel/our value system say about this?

Act (discerning a response - it is important in 'doing theology' that we act)

Where might we make improvement or adjustments to how we operate to better serve the community? 


These Powerpoints will help your board to discuss, explore and deepen an understanding of the concept of Catholic social teaching. (Presentations consist of seven and five slides for discussion).


Download Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching - Part 1
Download Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching- Part 2

References: Part 1

[1] Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching,  

[2] O’Brien and Shannon (editors) Catholic Social Thought - The Documentary Heritage, Orbis Books NY 2010

[3] Pope Benedict XVI  Mulgrave [On Christian Love] 2005, n.28

[4] CESA, Manual for School Board Members, p.6

[5] see “Doing Theology” chapter in Sharkey, Paul, An Educators Guide to Catholic Identity (Vaughan Publishing, Mulgrave, 2015) and CESA’s Religious Leadership and the Catholic Identity of Schools Statement (2015).



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