• An authoritative Catholic Church teaching on social, political and economic issues.
  • It is informed by Gospel values and the lived experience of Christian reflection.
  • It analyses that lived experience of Christian reflection from different historical, political and social contexts.
  • It provides principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and guidelines for action.
  • Thus, it enables us in our struggle to live our faith in justice and peace.


The foundational principle of all STC is the sanctity of human life. We believe in the sanctity of the human person, starting from conception (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13-15) through to natural death. Human life must be valued infinitely above material possessions. Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke extensively on the topic of the inviolability of human life and dignity in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, (“The Gospel of Life”).

We oppose all acts considered attacks and affronts to human life, including abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment (death penalty), genocide, torture, the direct and intentional targeting of non-combatants in war, and every deliberate taking of innocent human life. In the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes (“Joy and Hope”), it is written that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care.”

The human being is sacred and human life is sacrosanct. Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life calls us to respect all human life and not take human life lightly. We must prevent genocide and attacks against non-combatants; we must oppose racism and we must overcome poverty and suffering.

Nations are called to protect the right to life through appropriate social, political, economic, cultural and state systems and processes. They should seek effective ways to combat evil and terror without resorting to armed conflicts, always seeking first to resolve disputes by peaceful means. We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war and from starvation, and indeed the lives of all human beings as children of God.

We believe that all humans are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Therefore the Church teaches us to respect all humans based on this inherent dignity and fundamental freedom.

We oppose all forms of discrimination, based on race, colour, creed, sex, tribe, culture, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, employment status, economic status, health, intelligence, achievement, political power or other distinguishing characteristics by which people discriminate.

Human dignity is not earned by achievement or bestowed by human authority, it comes from God. (Psalm 139). Our belief in the inherent dignity and freedom of the human person requires that basic human needs are adequately met, including food, health care, shelter, education, etc.

Every person has a fundamental right to life and therefore the necessities of life. In addition, every human has the right to what is required to live a full and decent life, things such as employment, food, health care, education, shelter, freedom of speech, movement, leisure, recreation, development, clean environment, peace, etc. The right to exercise religious freedom publicly and privately by individuals and institutions along with freedom of conscience need to be constantly defended. In a fundamental way, the right to free expression of religious beliefs protects all other rights.

Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. Rights should be understood and exercised in a moral framework rooted in the dignity of the human person and social justice. When we exercise our rights, we should do so without compromising those of others. Being free we have responsibilities towards each other.

The Ten Commandments give us the basic structure of human responsibilities to each other. The first three are the foundation for everything that follows: The Love of God, the Worship of God, the sanctity of God and the building of people around God.

The other seven Commandments are to do with the love of humanity and describe the different ways in which we must serve towards a common good: Honour your father and mother, you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour, you shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour (Exodus 20:3-17). Our Lord Jesus Christ Summarised the Commandments with the New Commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34, 15:9-17).

Common Good is the sum total of all those conditions of social living – i.e. economic, political, social, cultural, technological – which make it possible for all people (women, men, children) to fully achieve their natural potential by growing physically, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and socially.

People exist as part of society. Every individual has a duty to share in promoting the welfare of the community and a right to benefit from that welfare. This applies at every level: local, national and international. Public authorities exist mainly to promote the common good and to ensure that no section of the population is excluded.

According to the Book of Genesis, the Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone”. The Church teaches that the human being is not only sacred but is also a social animal and that families are the first and most basic units of a society. We advocate a complementarian view of marriage, family life, and religious leadership. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family – based on marriage (between a man and a woman) – is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children.

Together families form communities, communities a state and together all across the world each human is part of the human family. How these communities organise themselves politically, economically and socially is thus of the highest importance. Each institution must be judged by how much it enhances, or is a detriment to, the life and dignity of human persons.

STC opposes collectivist approaches but at the same time also rejects unrestricted laissez-faire policies and the notion that a free market automatically produces social justice. The state has a positive moral role to play as no society will achieve a just and equitable distribution of resources with a totally free market. We must all work together as a community and as nations to meet our obligations to promote the development of all people without leaving anyone behind especially the impoverished, marginalised and the vulnerable. (Acts 2:44-47).

It is through work that human beings achieve fulfilment. So in order to fulfil ourselves we must cooperate and work together to create something good for all of us, a common good.

As members of the one human family, we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of people across communities and nations. Our solidarity, which is the fundamental bond of unity with our fellow human beings and the resulting interdependence, reminds us that all are responsible for all; in particular, the rich have responsibilities towards the poor.

People have a right and a duty to participate in society in order to search, in collaboration with others, for the common good and well-being of everyone, especially the poor and the marginalised.

People grow physically, intellectually, socially and economically by participating in the activities of their communities and societies. To be shut out from participating is to be denied opportunities for growth and opportunities for contributing to the growth of others.

Participation through work is more than a way of making a way of living. It is participation in God’s creation. People must be encouraged to participate in all activities that affect all areas of their life – politics, economics, social aspects, etc.

All people have a right to participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of society and, under the principle of subsidiarity, all power and decision-making in society should be at the most local level compatible with the common good.

Subsidiarity will mean power passing downwards, but it could also mean passing appropriate powers upwards. The balance between the vertical (subsidiarity) and the horizontal (solidarity) is achieved through reference to the common good. The principle guides the complex social relationships by defining the responsibilities and limits of government, the essential roles of voluntary associations, civil society, families and individuals.

People should use their gifts in ways that express their humanity freely and fully. The principle of subsidiarity requires that what individuals and local organisations cannot do for themselves to realise the common good, must be done by higher forms of organisations or government.

Human persons are not only sacred, reflecting the image of God, they are also social and grow in communities. The basic community is the family and therefore family stability must always be protected and never be undermined.

Human beings achieve their fulfilment in solidarity with others by association with others in families, communities and other social institutions that foster growth, protect dignity and promote the common good.

People have the freedom to meet, gather freely and associate with people of their own choice in clubs, groups, political parties, churches, etc. These should not compromise rights, freedoms, reputation of others.

The Church teaches us to encompass the right relationships between all members of God’s creation. The world and its goods were created for the use and benefit of all of God´s creatures and any structures that impede the realisation of this fundamental goal are not right.

Stewardship of creation means that the world’s goods are available for humanity to use only under a “social mortgage” which carries with it the responsibility to protect the environment. The “goods of the earth” are gifts from God, and they are intended by God for the benefit of everyone. We are to respect and share the resources of the earth since we are all part of the community of creation.

Man was given dominion, not absolute power, over all creation and as sustainer rather than as exploiter, and is commanded to be a good steward of the gifts God has given him. We cannot use and abuse the natural resources God has given us with a destructive consumer mentality. Natural resources are limited and some are not renewable.

STC recognises that the poor are the most vulnerable to environmental impact and endure disproportional hardship when natural areas are exploited or damaged. We are called to a deeper respect for God’s creation and we should actively engage in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor.

Refer to Pope Francis’s Encyclical “Laudato Si”.

Jesus taught that on the Day of Judgement God will ask what each of us did to help the poor and needy: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). This is reflected in the Church’s Canon Law, which states, “The Christian faithful are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.”

Through our words, prayers and deeds we must show solidarity with, and compassion for, the poor. When instituting public policy we must always keep the “preferential option for the poor” at the forefront of our minds. The moral test of any 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.”

Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel”. This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalised in our nation and beyond – unborn children, people with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill, and victims of injustice and oppression.

Poor people have been at the heart of the Church since time immemorial. Preferential option for the poor, and oppressed, is inspired by Jesus’ identification of his vision as bringing Good News to the Poor. (Luke 4:16-19, Exodus 3:7-10, James 2:1-7).

To be poor is to be hungry, to be sick, to be unhealthy, to be unemployed, to be without decent shelter and clothes, to be without spiritual comfort. The poor are often forgotten, exploited and marginalised in communities and society.

The preferential option for the poor is a conscious effort to correct our moral mistakes, failings and shortcomings and those of our social institutions, cultures, and systems. The impoverished, marginalised and forgotten need our special care and attention.