Catholic Social Teaching and the Structures of Society
Culture is Paramount
Serve the Common Good
Developed and Developing
Three Structures Identified by the Catholic Church
- Pope St. John Paul II established the need to maintain vibrant and critical interaction among economics, culture, and politics; emphasizing that of these three – culture is the most important. (Centesimus Annus)
- We must form our consciences with the principles of Catholic social teaching – Human Dignity, Solidarity and Subsidiarity – to be informed on how we are to interact with and impact the framework of society.
- While the Church fully realizes that society must be structured appropriately, she is just as clear that this is NOT the job of the Church to make this happen in civil life. (Pope Benedict XVI, 28 & 29) It is up to us. (Pope Francis)
Structures must serve the common good. As Pope Francis advised, “situations and living conditions [must be] examined in terms of the human person and human dignity…the human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures”. (Pope Francis)
He also warned that “Changing structures without generating new convictions and attitudes will only ensure that those same structures will become, sooner or later, corrupt, oppressive and ineffectual.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 189)
Culture is the Most Important
We will come back, again and again, to Pope St. John Paul II’s great emphasis on culture, the most important structure of society. At the heart of culture lay morality and at the heart morality lay religion. In his three-part proposition of a free culture, free markets, and free polities that create a free society, the key is a culture that promotes the dignity of human life.