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Religion Library: Roman Catholicism

Principles of Moral Thought and Structure

Written by: Cynthia Stewart

This focus on human dignity has produced a series of related principles around which modern Catholic social teaching is organized: the importance of family and community, and the need for individuals to participate in them; the call to solidarity with all people everywhere; the dignity of work; the recognition that humans have both rights and responsibilities; the commitment to stand with the poor; and the necessity of caring for God's creation. Each of these principles engenders a whole host of individual social teachings and practical actions, and in the Catholic view all stand in contrast to what Pope John Paul II defined as the western world's current "culture of death" that idolizes pleasure and affluence while ignoring the dignity of the person. As an organization, the Church works in the world to further these principles; as the teacher of the faithful, it calls on Catholics to carry these principles with them into their daily lives as their grounding for moral action in the home, the workplace, and the community.   

Study Questions:
     1.    Why do Catholics believe that non-Catholics are able to live a moral life?
     2.    How should Catholics interact with teachings that they do not agree with?
     3.    Why does Roman Catholicism have a strong focus on social justice?
     4.    How is community at the center of Catholicism’s moral thought and action?


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