The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

What is social justice?

Social justice is the promotion of just societies and treatment of individuals and communities based on the belief that we each possess an innate human dignity.

“God has made the earth and all that it contains for all to share. The earth’s goods must be divided fairly and this right of everyone to a just share comes first. All other rights must help, not block, this basic right of every human being.”

Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI, 1967

It is the promotion of respect for creation, and principles of stewardship, participation, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity and the preferential option for the poor and the vulnerable.

Social justice activists aim to see this achieved in the world that we live in now and for future generations. Social justice issues revolve around structures or human actions within society that result in people being treated unfairly or unjustly. Addressing social justice issues could mean:

  • Working against discrimination
  • Mitigating the effects of climate change on communities
  • Ensuring workers are valued and treated fairly
  • Preventing the marginalisation of people from society
  • Challenging unjust government policies that contribute to the oppression of some people in a society
  • Ensuring the powerful don’t abuse their power
  • Promoting peace instead of violence
  • Ensuring men, women, and children are able to flourish
  • Preventing corruption and promoting transparency and accountability


Caritas and Social Justice

Caritas works for a world free of poverty and injustice through community development, advocacy, education and emergency relief. Poverty is often caused by the actions of people and therefore, we can take action to eradicate poverty in our world.

Caritas works with all people to help them understand the underlying causes of poverty and empower them to end injustice. As advocates for social justice, Caritas works to ensure the poorest and most marginalised in society have a voice.

Social justice is promoted through our Church doctrine. In addition to the Gospel teachings and person of Jesus Christ, we have Catholic social teaching (CST) that guides us on how to ‘see, judge and act’ on issues of social justice.

CST is a body of thought that has been developed over several centuries by the Catholic Church, and is rich in Scriptural values such as love, peace, justice, reconciliation and service. CST provides us with guidance for addressing modern social justice issues with fairness and integrity.

To search for Caritas resources that focus on CST and other themes go to Resources.


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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust