Catholic Social Teachings
St. Joseph Health’s commitment to social justice is grounded in the
foundation of Catholic Social Teaching, a set of principles that guide
us in building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the
challenges of modern society. Below are several of the key themes that
are at the heart of this tradition, as published by the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity
of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This
belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.
Catholic teaching calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect
the right to life by finding effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve
them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that
people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution
is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
Call to Family, Community and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society
– in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly
affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community.
Marriage and family are the central social institutions that must be supported
and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have the right and
a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and
well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and
a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected
and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental
right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.
Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities –
to one another, to our families and to the larger society.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a
society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition
recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us
to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
The economy must serve people not the other way around. Work is more than
a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s
creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights
of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to
decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private
property and to economic initiative.
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic
and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’
keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions
in a shrinking world. At the core of virtue of solidarity is the pursuit
of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace,
work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love
for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world
surrounded by violence and conflict.
Care for God’s Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care
for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of
our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our
faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental
challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
These foundations of Catholic social teaching are the framework for the
people of St. Joseph Health as we work daily to ensure social justice
for all members of the communities we serve, and for all of society. We
invite you to join us in these commitments and help us create a society
that promotes social justice and dignity of the person for all our dear