Social Justice - Catholic Social Teaching

Social Justice—Catholic Social Teaching

by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

When I attended St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago back in the 1970s, I remember hearing, over and over again, that I was to become a “man for others” (it was an all-boys school at the time). I had no idea then that this concept was central to the notion of Ignatian spirituality—to be a man or woman for others. When St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuits back in the 16th century, he believed firmly that faith must be put into action. Nearly 400 years later, one of his successors, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (Jesuit Superior General 1965-1983) said, “We cannot separate action for justice from the proclamation of the Word of God.”

Think this idea is radical? Jesus taught this principle over 2000 years ago! In his Parable of the Last Judgment, Jesus made it abundantly clear that faith in him will be judged by how well that faith was put into action:
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?

And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?

And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?"

And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:37-40, RSV)

In other words, we are called to be people for others. But what does this mean in practical terms? How do we translate faith into action? To guide us in this endeavor, the bishops of the United States wrote Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, which outlines seven principles of social justice in Catholic teaching. By following these principles, we will discover how to live as people for others.

  • Dignity of the Human Person. We are called to ask whether our actions as a society respect or threaten the life and dignity of the human person.
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation. We are called to support the family—the principle social institution—so that people can participate in society, build a community spirit, and promote the well being of all.
  • Rights and Responsibilities. We are called to protect the rights that all people have to those things required for a decent human life, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. We are called to pay special attention to the needs of those who are poor.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. We are called to protect the basic rights of all workers: the right to engage in productive work, fair wages, private property, and the right to organize, join unions, and pursue economic opportunity.
  • Solidarity. We are called to recognize that, because God is our Father, we are all brothers and sisters, with the responsibility to care for one another.
  • Care for God's Creation. We are called to care for all that God has made.

In the Parable of the Last Judgment, Jesus makes clear our responsibility to tend to the needs of others. The Church teaches this responsibility in these seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching reminding us that, if we want to live as followers of Jesus, we need to live as people for others.


Joe Paprocki, D.Min. 

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., has been a catechetical leader and religious educator in the Chicago area for more than thirty years.

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Books by Joe Paprocki, D.Min.

La caja de herramientas del catequista

Este libro es ideal para nuevos catequistas, La caja de herramientas del catequista te entrena mientras llevas a cabo tu ministerio como catequista. 

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Under the Influence of Jesus

The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ

In Under the Influence of Jesus, Joe Paprocki explains that by opening ourselves to encountering Christ, we can learn how to live the Gospel and be models of faith.

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Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista

Catequesis que no solo informa, sino que también transforma

Más allá de la caja de herramientas del catequista le permite a los jóvenes encontrar a Jesús en la oración de manera que puedan convertirse en discípulos de Cristo para toda la vida.

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La mochila del catequista

Lo indispensable para el camino espiritual

La mochila del catequista brinda a los catequistas recursos que atienden a la dimensión espiritual de su llamado a compartir la fe católica.

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The Catechist's Toolbox

How to Thrive as a Religious Education Teacher

The Catechist’s Toolbox offers catechists tips, advice, and a methodical approach that will help them succeed as educators of the faith.

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A Well-Built Faith

A Catholic's Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe

In A Well-Built Faith, Joe Paprocki makes it easy for Catholics to feel confident in teaching the Catholic faith. He makes complex teachings of the Catholic faith accessible to average Catholics without compromising Catholic teaching and tradition.

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The Bible Blueprint

A Catholic's Guide to Understanding and Embracing God's Word

In The Bible Blueprint, best-selling author Joe Paprocki makes understanding the Bible not only easy for the person in the pew, but downright fun!

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Los planos de Biblia

Una guía católica para entender y acoger la Palabra de Dios

En Los planos de Biblia, el exitoso autor Joe Paprocki ayuda al católico de la calle a entender fácilmente la Biblia, y lo hace con humor.

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Beyond the Catechist's Toolbox

Catechesis That Not Only Informs but Also Transforms

Joe Paprocki, best-selling author of The Catechist’s Toolbox series, has written the first, step-by-step book that demonstrates how to teach a 75-minute catechetical session with practical techniques that expand upon the textbook to create a more prayerful climate in the classroom.

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The Catechist's Backpack

Spiritual Essentials for the Journey

Written by two nationally known, expert lay catechists, The Catechist’s Backpack gives catechists the resources that speak to the spiritual dimension of their call to share the Catholic faith.

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Practice Makes Catholic

Moving from a Learned Faith to a Lived Faith

Why do Catholics do what they do? Practice Makes Catholic from Loyola Press gets to the heart of the question-and to the heart of what it really means to be Catholic.

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Una Fe Bien Construida

Guia catolica para conocer y compartir lo que creemos

Una fe bien construida,—desarrollado con enorme creatividad usando metafóricamente el tema de la construcción— facilita enormemente a los católicos el conocimiento de su fe y les da seguridad al momento de compartirla.

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Amos/Hosea/Micah: A Call to Justice

Six Weeks with the Bible: Catholic Perspectives

The prophets tell us what God thinks about oppression, injustice, and neglect of the poor.

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La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo

Bajo la influencia de Jesús

La experiencia transformadora de encontrarse con Cristo es la rotunda respuesta del reconocido autor Joe Paprocki a esa pregunta: ¡Sí, es posible!

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7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness

Enriching Your Faith by Strengthening the Health of Your Soul

In 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness, best-selling author Joe Paprocki provides a prescription for spiritual health based on the rich wisdom of Catholic Tradition.

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Vivir la misa

Cómo una hora a la semana puede cambiar tu vida

Explica detallademente cómo cada parte de la misa se relaciona con la llamada que recibimos en el bautismo, poniendo en estrecha relación la misa dominical y el resto de nuestra semana.

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Living the Mass

How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life

In Living the Mass, Joe Paprocki, DMin, and Fr. Dominic Grassi convincingly show how the one hour spent at Mass on Sunday can truly transform the other 167 hours of the week.

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A Church on the Move

52 Ways to Get Mission and Mercy in Motion

52 specific, practical, and achievable strategies to help Catholic parishes embody the broad themes of Pope Francis’ papacy—mission, mercy, and evangelization.

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