Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is broad, but here are some key points – even if there’s diversity within perspectives. It isn’t a tidy enterprise. There are four key aspects of CST that will be discussed later when it comes to how church and state will engage – cooperation, challenge, competition, and transcendence. First, we’ll look at Cochran’s explanation of the Mission of the Church and the Responsibilities of Government from a CST perspective.
Micah 6.8 is a key text in CST – do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God. Here are some key elements of Catholic doctrine.
Incarnational – Just as Christ came in the flesh to redeem humanity, so the church is to redeem the human and material world. This includes “that there is a natural justice and a natural common good” (p. 43).
Sacramental – Everyday events are chances for intimacy and relationship with Christ – everything is potentially sacred, which makes CST comfortable with the tensions inevitable in church/state relations.
Social anthropology – There is individual responsibility, but we are social creatures and have responsibilities toward one another.
Option for the poor – Tension between value of poverty and the relief of it. Monastic orders both honored voluntary poverty and worked to relieve the suffering. This has been characteristic of the Catholic left, but conservatives Catholics recognize it as their responsibility, too. They do it by different means.
Church as public institution – Most of the above the elements make the Catholic church public because it is committed to societal transformation for the public good – not for theocracy.