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Chapter 31. Seventh Commandment: Do Not Steal—Act Justly • 421

includes consideration of the relationship between the economy and

social justice, the importance of solidarity among nations, and a prefer-

ential love for the poor (cf. CCC, nos. 2401-2463).

Catholic social teaching embraces both the Church’s perennial con-

cern for people’s social needs since New Testament times as well as an

explicit social doctrine.

The Church makes a judgment about economic and social mat-

ters when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation

of souls requires it. She is concerned with the temporal common

good of men because they are ordered to the sovereign Good,

their ultimate end. (CCC, no. 2458)

The central focus of the Church’s social teaching is justice for all,

especially for the helpless and the poor. It involves the removal of the

symptoms and causes of poverty and injustice.

The Church’s social doctrine addresses a wide range of issues that

include the dignity of work, the need of workers to receive a salary that

will enable them to care for their families, a safe working environment,

and the responsibility of the state for areas such as a stable currency,

public services, and protecting personal freedom and private property.

Church teaching also speaks to the need of business enterprises to con-

sider the good of the employees, not just the profit motive. Wage earners

should be able to represent their needs and grievances when necessary.

As can be seen in the summary that follows, the major themes of

Catholic social doctrine build on each other and complement each other.

All of the Church’s social teaching is rooted in the fundamental principle

of the sacredness of human life and the fundamental dignity of every

single individual. Out of these truths flows the rest.

Reflections of the Catholic Bishops of the United

States on the Church’s Social Teaching: Major Themes

The Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about

building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the

challenges of a modern society. Modern Catholic social teach-

ing has been articulated through a tradition of papal, concil-