Catholic Social Teaching "is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society" (United States Catholic Bishops, "Themes of Catholic Social Teaching"). The U.S. Catholic Bishops have summarized the main principles of Catholic Social Teaching as (1) the life and dignity of the human person; (2) the call to family, community, and participation; (3) the protection of rights and meeting responsibilities; (4) the option for the poor and vulnerable; (5) the dignity of work and the rights of workers; (6) solidarity; and (7) care for God's creation.
Click here for the U.S. Bishops' web site on Catholic Social Teaching.
While teaching on ethical and moral matters dates to the origins of the Church, the modern era of Catholic Social Teaching begins with the encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. Important documents on Catholic Social Teaching are:
Second Vatican Council
Other Important Documents
Octogesima Adveniens (A Call to Action) - Pope Paul VI (1971)
Sacramentum Caritatis (Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist) -- Pope Benedict XVI, 2007
Important Web Pages on Catholic Social Teaching