Catholic Social Teaching is a set of principles and teachings based on Christian values, which aim to bring about a good and fair society for the benefit of all. In general terms, Catholic Social Teaching takes the message of the Gospel and applies it to a particular set of social situations or problems.

Official texts which establish Catholic Social Teaching include papal documents, which are known as encyclical letters, documents of the Second Vatican Council and the statements of local and regional conferences of Catholic Bishops.

A fundamental principle of Catholic Social Teaching is that work affirms, enhances and expresses the human dignity of those that undertake it. Therefore, the upholding of the dignity of every person should be at the core of any industrial relations system.

Papal Documents

Centesimus Annus (On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum)
Encyclical Letter of John Paul II, May 1991

Laborem Exercens (On Human Work)
Encyclical Letter of John Paul II, September 1981

Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)
Document of the Second Vatican Council, December 1965

Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress)
Encyclical Letter of John XXIII, May 1961

Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of the Working Class)
Encyclical Letter of Leo XIII, May 1891

Other Papal Documents may be obtained from the Vatican's website at

Statements of Local and Regional Conferences of Catholic Bishops

Industrial Relations - The Guiding Principles
Bishops Committee for Industrial Affairs, August 1993