Key Texts

Below are some key texts of Catholic Social Teaching. CST also includes documents from regional conferences of bishops, like those of CELAM (Latin America) and FABC (Asia) – particularly that of Medellin (1968) and Puebla (1979). These documents primarily with a regional audience apply CST to their own context, reflecting on ideas such as conscientisation, basic communities and the option for the poor. Many of these themes have been picked up by the wider Church. There have also been contributions to CST from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, now called the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on issues such as Debt, Homelessness, Racism, Land Reform and Refugees.


1891 Rerum NovarumOf New Things

Of New Things examines working conditions in industrialized countries and insists on workers’ rights. The Church, employers and workers should work together to build a just society.

1931 Quadragesimo AnnoOn the Fortieth Year

The Reconstruction of the Social Order came at a time of major economic depression. It criticises the abuses which occur under capitalism and communism. It advocates unity between capital and labour and holds that ownership brings social responsibilities.

1961 Mater et Magistra Mother & Teacher

Mother and Teacher updates earlier teachings on development. It includes agriculture and aid to developing countries, thus ‘internationalising’ CST. It describes the role of laity in applying social teaching as an integral part of Christian life.

1963 Pacem in Terris Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth emerged in a context where there was a threat of imminent nuclear war. It is a plea for peace based on a framework of rights and duties applying to individuals, public authorities and the world community.

1965 Gaudium et Spes Joy and Hope

Joy and Hope emphasizes that everyone has a duty to discern the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. It outlines principles for the respect of cultures, enhancing human dignity and the common good.

1967 Populorum ProgressioThe Development of Peoples

The Development of Peoples deals with structural poverty, aid and trade. It stresses the need for limits on the profit motive and the duty on Christians to strive for international justice.

1971 Octogesima AdveniensOn the Eightieth Year

On the Eightieth Year emphasizes the need for the local church to respond to specific situations. It notes that urbanisation has brought new injustices and discusses the importance of political engagement.

1971 Justicia in Mundo Justice in the World

Justice in the World stresses that justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel. The Church must examine its conscience about its lifestyle and so witness to the Gospel.

1975 Evangelii Nuntiandi Evangelization in the Modern World

Evangelisation in the Modern World highlights the links between evangelization and liberation.

1981 Laborem Exercens On Human Work

On Human Work explores the importance of work in promoting human dignity. It emphasizes the importance of workers’ rights and unions.

1987 Sollicitudo Rei Socialis The Social Concern of the Church

Social Concern analyses global development. It calls for a conversion from structures of sin towards solidarity with the poor.

1991 Centesimus AnnusThe One Hundredth Year

One Hundredth Year reviews CST and major events of the last century, constantly affirming human dignity and human rights, justice and peace.

2009 Caritas in Veritate Charity in Truth

Charity in Truth is a comprehensive review of development and some reflection on the economic crisis and business ethics.

2013 Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel

The Joy of the Gospel gives particular attention to the ‘social dimension of Evangelization’.

2015 Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home

Care for Our Common Home is a passionate call to all people of the world to take swift and unified global action, in tackling the destruction of the environment.