Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Office > Social Ministries

What is Catholic Social Teaching?

In response to various questions concerning life in society, “the Church has never failed to speak the words that are hers.”  Over the course of our Church’s history, particularly these past hundred years, our popes, bishops, saints,and scholars have continually expounded and updated the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine.  Promulgated in 1891, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum  declares that human society can only be saved and healed by a Christian life and Christian institutions, because they are ordered to man’s true end and true good. Laid out in his encyclical are the seven principles of Catholic social doctrine. They are as applicable today as they were over a hundred years ago:

We are called to live these themes as a social vision for our communities, nation, and world. Where it is lacking, we are called to bring forth a society that fully embraces and expresses these themes.

A great resource is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Parish Based Education

We invite parishes to collaborate with ours and other diocesan offices to promote a greater formation of consciences through talks, retreats, events, and other creative opportunities.

Please let us know how we can collaborate and share how your parish is growing in understanding the riches of Catholic social doctrine. Email us at

The Church’s social teaching
proposes principles for reflection;
it provides criteria for judgment;
it gives guidelines for action.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992  [#2423]