Catholic Social Teaching is a collection of teachings that are designed to reflect the Church’s social mission in response to the challenges of the day. The teachings are rooted in biblical values and reflections on Christian tradition. 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 modern society. In this essay, five sources of Catholic Social Teaching will be highlighted. The first source of Catholic Social Teaching is the bible.
The bible is a collection of inspired books which explains God’s wonders and what God has done throughout history. The bible is divided into parts which are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is a collection of selected writings composed and edited by members of the Hebrew-Jewish community in the beginning of the Christian era. The Old Testament includes materials such as prophetic oracles, teachings of wise men, and instructions of priests and ancient records of the royal courts.
The New Testament recounts the life of Jesus and is central to Christian faith. The New Testament is composed of good news and Acts of the Apostles. The second source of Catholic Social Teaching is the magisterium. The magisterium is the official teaching of the church and authoritative voice of tradition. This official teaching of the church is exercised by the catholic bishops as well as groups appointed by the Pope. This teaching is expressed in the form of Papal encyclicals, encyclicals of the church councils and statement by Vatican offices. The magisterium highly recommends solidarity because it is capable of guaranteeing the common good and fostering integral human development. The third source of Catholic Social Teaching is tradition. Tradition is referred to as the doctrine or custom which is passed on from generation to another generation. Tradition is the very life of the church itself as it is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit.
It is important to recognize that there are also things in church which do not only belong to tradition but which are not even to be counted among its positive human traditions. The errors which creep into the life of the church stand under judgment and condemnation of the authentic and genuine holy tradition which comes from God. The fourth source of Catholic Social Teaching is the philosophical and theological reflections of the people. This was written by philosophers in order to provide a way of learning theology so that participants can develop harmony between life’s experience, the world and the Christian faith. Philosophy and theology have new appeal as we relate them to ideas and experiences we have had ourselves. We come to see that the past is not something distant but it is part of our own experiences, heritage and perceptions.
We find that we have much in common with the people from the past, like us they loved, hated, succeeded and failed. They encountered many of the challenges we face and we can learn from their stories. The fifth source of Catholic Social Teaching is the contemporary experience of the people. The message of the bible, the very faith of Christianity analyses the contemporary experience of people from past ages with God. The bible not only records for us God’s will for our lives, but also what people experienced in obeying or disobeying His will. As well, the bible gives testimony about what God is like and how people from past ages experienced God.
The value of the contemporary experience is as great as any other evidence we can proclaim to the world about our faith in the living Jesus our Lord. All the five sources are rooted in biblical values and reflect on Christian tradition. For example, there are so many experiences that we can learn from the bible. The experiences that people from the bible experienced are the same things that are experienced daily in people’s lives. We experience unconditional love from our living God, we experience healing which could either be physically or spiritually. These experiences enable people to be people of faith because there is a living God who will never forsake us no matter what we experience daily in our lives.