Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, Theme 2: Call To Family Community And Participation


The person is not only sacred but also social. 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.  Marriage and the family are the central  social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We  believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking  together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and  vulnerable.




Economic and social policies as well as organization of  the work world should be continually evaluated in light of their impact on the  strength and stability of family life.The long-range future of  this nation is intimately linked with the well-being of families, for the  family is the most basic form of human community.  Efficiency and competition in the marketplace  must be moderated by greater concern for the way work schedules and  compensation support or threaten the bonds between spouses and between parents  and children.  Economic Justice for All, #93
The first and fundamental structure for a “human  ecology” is the family . . . founded on marriage, in which the  mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which  children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their  dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny.  On the Hundredth Year(Centesimus Annus. . . ), #39


But God did not create  man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them”  (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal  communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he  relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential. The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes. . . ), #12

The nation’s founders  took daring steps to create structures of participation, mutual accountability,  and widely distributed power to ensure the political rights and freedoms of  all. We believe that similar steps are needed today to expand economic  participation, broaden the sharing of economic power, and make economic  decisions more accountable to the common good. Economic Justice for All, #297

In order that the right to development may be fulfilled by action:  (a) people should not be hindered from attaining development in accordance with  their own culture; (b) through mutual cooperation, all peoples should be able  to become the principal architects of their own economic and social  development. Justice in the World (Justica in Mundo), #71

The primary  norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the  “principle of subsidiarity” cited above. This principle states that,  in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those  initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting  independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and  individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively  to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice  exceed their capacities. These does not mean, however, that the government that  governs least, governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as  that which truly “helps” other social groups contribute to the common  good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as  “the occasion requires and necessity demands”.  Economic Justice for All, #124

Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in  the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others.  Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate. . . ), #57

In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral  obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow  Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of  the Catholic Church reminds us, ‘It is necessary that all participate, each  according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This  obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life’ (nos. 1913-1915).  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #13