There are three fundamental principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the greatest of which the Church insists is the first: A correct understanding of the human person, which is Human Dignity. This is the prime principle!

Then there are Solidarity and Subsidiarity. 

CST is built upon these three key principles. This is evident not only in the social encyclicals from 1931 to Centesimus Annus to Deus Caritas Est to Caritas in Veritatebut also in Pope Saint John Paul the Great’s continued teachings, when in 1999 he told the American bishops that

"Her moral vision in this area 'rests on the threefold cornerstone of human dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity'” (Saint John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 55, 1999)

And, as his sucessor Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed,

"It is up to the lay faithful to demonstrate concretely in their personal and family life, in social, cultural and political life that…the fundamental principles of the social doctrine of the Church such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity are extremely relevant and valuable in order to support new paths of development in service to the whole person and to all humanity." (Benedict XVI, Address to the 24th Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, 21 May 2010)
  • What does one do with these principles?
    • Saint John Paul the Great said we should use Catholic Social Teaching’s principles to form our consciences for acting in the public square. We should use these principles to evaluate the framework of society, and to provide the criteria for making our prudential judgments as regards to current policy options.
    • Finally, we should then act on these evaluations.
  • What is the source of the Church's social teachings?
    • "In fact the Church's social teaching finds its source in Sacred Scripture, beginning with the Book of Genesis and especially in the Gospel and the writings of the Apostles. From the beginning it was part of the Church's teaching, her concept of man and life in society, and, especially, the social morality which she worked out according to the needs of the different ages. This traditional patrimony was then inherited and developed by the teaching of the Popes on the modern "social question", beginning with the Encyclical Rerum Novarum. In this context, study of the question of work, as we have seen, has continually been brought up to date while maintaining that Christian basis of truth which can be called ageless." (LE, 3)
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Just a Thought
Consumerism arises from a misunderstanding about the meaning of life and the real source of human happiness: consumerism is the mistaken idea that the consumption of things and experiences leads to happiness. It is an addiction to buying things, to spending money, as a solution to the lack of happiness and peace in one’s life, in one’s family. Read more