Chapter 31. Seventh Commandment: Do Not Steal—Act Justly • 421
includes consideration of the relationship between the economy and
social justice, the importance of solidarity among nations, and a prefer-
ential love for the poor (cf. CCC, nos. 2401-2463).
Catholic social teaching embraces both the Church’s perennial con-
cern for people’s social needs since New Testament times as well as an
explicit social doctrine.
The Church makes a judgment about economic and social mat-
ters when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation
of souls requires it. She is concerned with the temporal common
good of men because they are ordered to the sovereign Good,
their ultimate end. (CCC, no. 2458)
The central focus of the Church’s social teaching is justice for all,
especially for the helpless and the poor. It involves the removal of the
symptoms and causes of poverty and injustice.
The Church’s social doctrine addresses a wide range of issues that
include the dignity of work, the need of workers to receive a salary that
will enable them to care for their families, a safe working environment,
and the responsibility of the state for areas such as a stable currency,
public services, and protecting personal freedom and private property.
Church teaching also speaks to the need of business enterprises to con-
sider the good of the employees, not just the profit motive. Wage earners
should be able to represent their needs and grievances when necessary.
As can be seen in the summary that follows, the major themes of
Catholic social doctrine build on each other and complement each other.
All of the Church’s social teaching is rooted in the fundamental principle
of the sacredness of human life and the fundamental dignity of every
single individual. Out of these truths flows the rest.
Reflections of the Catholic Bishops of the United
States on the Church’s Social Teaching: Major Themes
The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about
building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the
challenges of a modern society. Modern Catholic social teach-
ing has been articulated through a tradition of papal, concil-