Catholic social teaching

Jesus’ instruction to love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31) is at the heart of how Catholics believe they should participate in their community and the wider world.

Justice, peace, reconciliation

  • Justice is important as it means that Catholics should treat others fairly, as they would like to be treated. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Catholics should not discriminate against others.
  • Peace is important as it allows people to live together in harmony and avoid conflict.
  • Reconciliation is important as it means that people who are opposed to one another should strive to find a way of getting on. This also contributes to a more peaceful society. Catholics believe that they should try to achieve reconciliation with people they disagree with.


CAFOD, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, is an example of a Catholic organisation that aims to help people in need and is guided by Catholic teachings. Its members believe that every human is equal and that those in need should be treated with compassion. CAFOD aims to:

  • tackle poverty and injustice
  • support people in need so that they are empowered and able to help themselves in the long term
  • provide assistance in times of crisis, for example during a war or after a natural disaster

Sources of authority

The Evangelii Gaudium, which is a document written by Pope Francis in 2013, states: The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and the state is a central responsibility of politics’, the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice’. It goes on to remind Catholics that tackling injustice is the responsibilities of individuals and communities, as well as the Church.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus delivers a sermon known as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In this story, Jesus uses the idea of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. This represents the idea of God separating people on the Day of Judgement. The sheep are the people who have shown love to others and faith in God, and who have done this without expecting a reward. The goats are those who act selfishly, only fulfil religious obligations to appear good and do not demonstrate love to the people most in need.