Skip to Content

Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic social teaching (CST) is rooted in Scripture. It has, and continues to, challenge the world.

CST inspires how SCIAF works with our supporters in Scotland and those we serve overseas. We believe that by putting the seven principles of CST into action, we’re following the example set by Christ and acting in a way that God calls us.

The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching


“The human person is the clearest reflection of God's presence in the world; all of the Church's work in pursuit of both justice and peace is designed to protect and promote the dignity of every person.”

The Challenge of Peace, US Bishops, 1983 #15

Each one of us is unique and beautiful. We are called to treat every person and every creature with loving respect. In our work we empower those we serve, recognising gifts and talents and helping people to help themselves.


“Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people both near and far…it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good…. because we are really responsible for all.”

Pope John Paul II

In relation to the Church, Paul, in Romans 12, talks about many people with different gifts coming together to serve one another. We can see this here in the Church in Scotland but with SCIAF we can also come together with our gifts and make an impact globally and serve our sisters and brothers in solidarity.

Common Good

The common good means that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone. No one should be excluded from the gifts of creation. Populorum Progressio.

The common good is reached when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society and the wider world. At SCIAF, priority is given to development programmes which involve collaboration with all relevant members of the community to promote the common good.

Option for the Poor

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.”

Proverbs 14:31

The option for the poor reminds us of God’s preferential love for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Their needs and rights are given special attention in God’s eyes.

SCIAF programmes aim to reach the poorest and most marginalised people. This often requires greater effort, in order to reach remote regions.


“If you want peace, work for justice.”

Pope Paul VI

SCIAF stands with communities to build peace and promote justice, so they have power over their own lives.

Stewardship of Creation

“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

In 2015, Pope Francis brought together decades of Church teaching in the encyclical, Laudato Si’. In this deeply influential letter, Pope Francis invites everyone on the planet to consider how our actions are affecting the earth and the poorest people.

The Dignity of Work and Participation

“The economy must serve people, not the other way around… If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers, owners, and others must be respected—the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages….”

A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility – US conference of Catholic Bishops

The dignity of work has been a key principle of Catholic social teaching from the very beginning.

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labour). He shone a light on the injustice and exploitation of workers by the rich during the Industrial Revolution. He advocated for workers to join forces and fight against inhuman conditions.

Back to

Our Approach