Our values: Catholic Social Teaching 

Our work is shaped by the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). Read below to find out more about CST and what the principles mean for our work.

Schoolboy in Kenya

Learn more in the Catholic Social Teaching online toolkit

Catholic Social Teaching

CST covers all spheres of life – the economic, political, personal and spiritual. With human dignity at its centre, a holistic approach to development, founded on the principles of CST, is what Pope Paul VI called ‘authentic development’.

Below are some Catholic Social Teaching principles and how they guide the work of Caritas Australia.

Dignity of the human person

Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore has inherent dignity. No human being should have their dignity or freedom compromised.

The dignity of every person, independent of ethnicity, creed, gender, sexuality, age or ability, is the foundation of CST.

How it guides our work: Poverty, hunger, oppression and injustice make it impossible to live a life commensurate with this dignity. All our programs are people-centred with empowerment at their heart. People are never treated as commodities nor as mere recipients of aid.

The common good

Every person should have sufficient access to the goods and resources of society so that they can completely and easily live fulfilling lives. The rights of the individual to personal possessions and community resources must be balanced with the needs of the disadvantaged and dispossessed. The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world.

How it guides our work: Priority is given to development programs which involve collaboration with all relevant sectors of the community to promote the common good. It will also involve coordination of resources, planning and action across agencies and organisations.

Subsidiarity and participation

All people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Subsidiarity requires that decisions are made by the people closest and most affected by the issues and concerns of the community.

How it guides our work: Caritas Australia works with local communities to support, promote and develop their capacity in decision-making so they can better respond to their own needs.


Integrated pest management program

Everyone belongs to one human family, regardless of their national, religious, ethnic, economic, political and ideological differences. Everyone has an obligation to promote the rights and development of all peoples across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries.

We are called by the principle of solidarity to take the parable of the Good Samaritan to heart (Luke 10:29-37), and to express this understanding in how we live and interact with others.

How it guides our work: Caritas Australia expresses solidarity by reaching out to those who are most marginalised. We are committed to long-term engagement and sustainability.

Preferential option for the poor

Caring for the poor is everyone’s responsibility. Preferential care should be shown to poor and vulnerable people, whose needs and rights are given special attention in God’s eyes.

Jesus taught that God asks each of us what we are doing to help the poor and needy: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

How it guides our work: Reaching the poorest and most marginalised people often requires greater effort in discovering where they are to be found. This sometimes means additional resources of time and money.

Economic justice

Economic life is not meant solely for profit, but rather in service of the entire human community. Everyone capable should be involved in economic activity and should be able to draw from work, the means for providing for themselves and their family.

How it guides our work: Caritas Australia’s programs focus on the development of the whole person and increasing the wellbeing of communities.

Stewardship of Creation

We must all respect, care for and share the resources of the earth, which are vital for the common good of people. Care for animals and the environment is a common and universal duty, and ecological problems call for a change of mentality and the adoption of new lifestyles.

How it guides our work: Our development programs are attentive to environmental concerns and seek to promote care for the earth and its resources.

Promotion of peace

All Peace requires respect for and the development of human life, which in turn involves the safeguarding of the goods, dignity and freedom of people. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among human beings.

How it guides our work: Caritas Australia’s programs promote justice, collaboration and respect for people’s differences.

Read more about Catholic Social Teaching (PDF 1MB).