Call to Family, Community, and Participation

Learning More About Catholic Social Teachings 

Call to Family, Community, and Participation

The human person is not only sacred but also social. Full human development takes place in relationship with others. The family—based on marriage between a man and a woman—is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. It should be defended and strengthened, not redefined or undermined by permitting same-sex unions or other distortions of marriage. Respect for the family should be reflected in every policy and program. It is important to uphold parents’ rights and responsibilities to care for their children, including the right to choose their children’s education.

How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects the common good and the capacity of individuals to develop their full potential. Every person and association has a right and a duty to participate actively in shaping society and to promote the well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good. (Faithful Citizenship Statement, USCCB)


Scriptural Foundations

Quotes from Official Church Documents

  • “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. Participation is achieved first of all by taking charge of the areas for which one assumes personal responsibility…As far as possible, citizens should take an active role in public life.”
    -Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1913- 1915
  • “One must pay tribute to those nations whose systems permit the largest possible number of citizens to take part in public life in a climate of genuine freedom…”
    -Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), no. 31.
  • “It is necessary to go back to seeing the family as the sanctuary of life. The family is indeed sacred: it is the place in which life-the gift of God-can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life.”
    -Pope John Paul II, On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (Centesimus Annus), no.39

From: Leader’s Guide to Sharing Catholic Social Teaching, USCCB. 2001.

  • For further reading:

The Busy Christian's Guide to Catholic Social Teaching (condensed)

Major Documents (Catholic Charities of Minneapolis-St Paul)

References from the Catechism

  • 1908 - Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.28
  • 2420 - The Church makes a moral judgment about economic and social matters, "when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls requires it." 200 In the moral order she bears a mission distinct from that of political authorities: the Church is concerned with the temporal aspects of the common good because they are ordered to the sovereign Good, our ultimate end. She strives to inspire right attitudes with respect to earthly goods and in socio-economic relationships.
  • Online Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Catholic Family
  • Catholic Framework for Economic Life - Family
  • Childcare
  • Public Policy
  • Tips for conducting non-partisan voter education & voter registration

Practicing Faithful Citizenship


Prayer for Community*

Embracing Father,
You grace each of us with equal measure in your love.
Let us learn to love our neighbors more deeply,
so that we can create
peaceful and just communities.
Inspire us to use our creative energies
to build the structures we need
to overcome the obstacles of intolerance and indifference.
May Jesus provide us the example needed
and send the Spirit to warm our hearts for the journey.

*From Being Neighbor: The Catechism and Social Justice, USCCB, April, 1998