Catholic Social Teaching and Faith in Action at St Cecilia’s

Catholic social teaching at St Cecilia’s is rooted in Scripture, formed by the wisdom of Church leaders, and influenced by grassroots movements. It is our moral compass, guiding us on how to live out our faith in the world.  Our faith calls us to love God and to love our neighbours in every situation, especially our sisters and brothers living in poverty. Following in the footsteps of Christ, we hope to make present in our unjust and broken world, the justice, love and peace of God.  

Modern Catholic social teaching is said to have originated in 1891 with the encyclical letter, Rerum Novarum.  Since then, a wealth of teaching continue to give new life to the Scriptures and shape the Church’s response to our modern world. From these Catholic social teaching documents and encyclicals we derive our core principles.

Dignity

We believe very human person is made in the image and likeness of God. This is a gift that we all share as fellow human beings; we are all infinitely loved by our Creator.  God is present in every human person, regardless of religion, culture, nationality, orientation, or economic standing. Each one of us is unique and beautiful. We are called to treat every person and every creature with loving respect.

Examples in school include: RE lessons around Abortion, euthanasia and sanctity of life

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Jeremiah 1:5

Solidarity

Solidarity arises when we remember that we belong to each other. We reflect on this in a special way at Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognise Christ in the poorest.”

Examples in school include: Support of Ukraine, Intake of Ukrainian students, Collection non-perishable for Ukraine

“In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40

The Common Good

The common good means that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone. No one should be excluded from the gifts of creation. Pope Paul VI spoke about this 50 years ago in his encyclical Populorum Progressio.

Examples in school include: our school mission statement, protecting the vulnerable and ensuring no one is left out or excluded

“You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to them what is theirs.”

Saint Ambrose (340-397 AD)

Option for the poor

The option for the poor reminds us of God’s preferential love for the poorest and most vulnerable people. God’s love is universal; he does not side with oppressors, but loves the humble.

This principle is believed to have originated from the Liberation Theology movement in Latin America. For the first time, people living in poverty in the slums were holding the Bible in their own hands and imagining a world free from injustice. This radical thinking shaped CAFOD’s early work in the 1960s.

More recently, some Catholic theologians have spoken about an ‘option for the earth’. Pope Francis writes, “the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor” Laudato Si’ #2.

Examples in school include: CAFOD, cake sales and charity work

“The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me… to let the oppressed go free.”

Luke 4:18

Peace

Peace is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ, the Prince of Peace, sacrificed himself with love on the cross. 

In 1963, Pope John XXIII published Pacem in Terris (Peace on earth). It was a dangerous time for humanity; with the rise of nuclear weapons, the frightening stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the building of the Berlin Wall. The Pope's letter urged the world to seek peace. 

Examples in school include: PTA, Family social events, St Cecilia’s supports local Remembrance Day, HOY working closely with families, St Joseph’s penny/CARITAS supports local families in need

“Peace… is an order that is founded in truth, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom.”

Pacem in Terris, 1963, #167

The Dignity of Work and Participation

The dignity of work has been a key principle of Catholic social teaching from the very beginning.

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labour). He shone a light on the injustice and exploitation of workers by the rich during the Industrial Revolution. He advocated for workers to join forces and fight against inhuman conditions.

Since then, Church teaching has upheld the dignity of work and participation. The human person should always come before the pursuit of profit. Workers have the right to join trade unions, to a just wage, to spend time with their families and to rest. Work is an essential part of our human dignity and everyone has the right to participate.

Examples in school include: Fairtrade supported in school break times

“A small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”

Rerum Novarum, 1891, #3

Creation and environment

In the first pages of the Bible we read how God created the sun and the stars, the water and earth, and every creature. We believe Christ is the redeemer of all creation.

In 2015, Pope Francis brought together decades of Church teaching in the encyclical, Laudato Si’. In this deeply influential letter, Pope Francis invites everyone on the planet to consider how our actions are affecting the earth and the poorest people. Everything is interconnected, and all of creation praises God. It is our Christian vocation to care for creation.  

Examples in school include: Laudato si club, school garden/ insect hubs/Bird boxes and tables, CAFOD club litter pick, CAFOD club to produce leaflets on environmental issues and how climate change effects the poor

“Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of colour and life?”

Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, 1988