At the heart of the social doctrine is the idea that God is present in others and that we are our brothers and sisters' keepers. In Catholic teachings a special emphasis is placed on our responsibilities to help the most vulnerable of our neighbors.
Here are some of the main concepts behind the Catholic Social Tradition, and why we do the work we do:
Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral society. This belief is the foundation of all of the principles of our social teaching. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether is threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers - and sisters - keepers, wherever they may be. We are called to "love thy neighbor". At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.
the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
Family, Community and Participation
The person is not only sacred, but also social. How we organize our society directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. We believe that people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together that common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities met. Therefore, every person has a right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities - to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
(From Publication No. 5-315 USCCB Publishing, Washington D.C.)