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Caritas draws inspiration for all its work from Catholic social teaching, a body of thought on social issues that has been developed by the Church over the past hundred years.
Catholic social teaching applies Gospel values such as love, peace, justice, compassion, reconciliation, service and community to modern social problems. It continually develops through observation, analysis, and action. It is intended to guide not just Catholics, but all people of goodwill in responding to social problems of our ever-changing world.
The core principles of Catholic social teaching that guide Caritas work are:
Every person is created in the image of God and is therefore invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. The dignity of the person recognises that each person has rights that can’t be taken away – political, legal, cultural, social and economic rights.
Our Catholic tradition calls on us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. Caritas works with communities who experience poverty, injustice and oppression regardless of their religious, political or cultural beliefs.
Caritas stands alongside poor and marginalised communities in solidarity, uniting with them in prayer, making their causes our own, sharing our resources, supporting them in their advocacy and challenging the policies and systems that foster inequalities.
In places where we work, we seek to honour the autonomy of local communities, encouraging shared initiatives that allow people to direct their own development process. Overseas, we will enter into local partnerships and strive to provide creative assistance for community identified needs.
We strive to be good stewards of all the resources entrusted to us. We work for the integrity of creation in ways which assist the world’s poorest communities to have access to a greater share of resources, encouraging sustainability and equity, while demonstrating a deep respect for the environment and acknowledging our interconnectedness with all created things.
For an introduction to Catholic social teaching, visit faith doing justice – a website of the Australian Jesuits.
For a comprehensive guide to the full scope Catholic social doctrine, go to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican.