Catholic Teachings


Theologies of Peace, Justice and Liberation

Find out more about the Catholic teachings that call us to work for justice and peace.  

The first recognized encyclical on Social Teaching was written in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII in reaction to appalling labour conditions throughout Europe.  Subsequent popes took up the challenge, addressing such issues as corruption, greed, and war.  Lay Catholics such as Dorothy Day opened houses of hospitality and protested against war and discrimination.

Explore our "Resources' and 'News and Action' pages for more on this topic too.

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The principles of Catholic Social Teaching lay out the theology for actions for peace and justice within the Church.  Catholic Social Teaching is often summarized into a number of principles such as: 

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person

  • Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers

  • Solidarity

  • Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

  • Call to Family, Community and Participation

  • Rights and Responsibilities

  • Care for Creation

You can find out more at the following website:​

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Film: A short exploration of the pain and injustice of the occupation with Archbishop Michel Sabbah

In both video and print, former Jerusalem archbishop Michel Sabbah asks "How long will Catholics keep ignoring the suffering of Palestinians?"

"We say that the word of God is a word of life for all. Our God is one of love, not war. God’s word, even spoken in the midst of the conflict, must lead all of us to respect one another as equally created—Israelis and Palestinians having equal rights, freedom and independence.

So we turn to the media, the global Catholic Church and civil society asking, “Will you help?” Can you help both Israelis and Palestinians achieve a just, definitive peace? Or will you keep looking with indifference toward the Holy Land, a land in which one people continues to oppress another people, resulting in continued bloodshed and hatred?

To again quote Habakkuk: “Destruction and violence are before us. The law has become slack and justice does not prevail.” (Former Jerusalem Archbishop: How long will Catholics keep ignoring the suffering of Palestinians?, America, Dec. 21st, 2020)  

Long time Christian Peacemaker Team member Father Bob Holmes interviewed by Metta Spencer

Don't miss Father Bob Holmes as he draws from his years of experience in the Holy Land to speak about "Peace Workers in Israel and Palestine" on Metta Spencer's Talk show in this podcast

Global Meeting of Bishops Calls for Greater Solidarity with the Peoples of the Holy Land

Canada's Bishop Poisson joins with other bishops from around the world in issuing a communique from the Holy Land Coordination, decrying the oppression of Palestinians and calling on all parties to negotiate for peace and justice. 


"The lack of political progress, along with relentless expansion of illegal settlements and the impact of Israel’s Nation-State law, continues to erode any prospect of a peaceful two-state solution. Now is a critical moment for us all to strengthen our expression of solidarity with the people of the Holy Land “not as a vague sentiment but as a ‘firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good’”. 1 We stress the importance of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships recommitting to direct negotiations. We call upon our own governments and political leaders urgently to renew their active participation in the search for a just peace, supporting dialogue between all sides, upholding international law, and reaffirming the plurality of Jerusalem, given its unique significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims."  Read the statement:

Speech by Pope Francis during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, May 2014

"I renew the appeal made in this place by Pope Benedict XVI: the right of the State of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders must be universally recognized. At the same time, there must also be a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement."

Agreements between the Vatican and Palestinians:
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Two major agreements exist between the Vatican and Palestinians.  First, in 2000 the Vatican came to an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), entitled the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization.  Both parties met, 

Calling for a peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which would realize the inalienable national legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian People, to be reached through negotiation and agreement, in order to ensure peace and security for all peoples of the region on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations and its Security Council resolutions, justice and equity;

Declaring that an equitable solution for the issue of Jerusalem, based on international resolutions, is fundamental for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and that unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem are morally and legally unacceptable;

Calling, therefore, for a special statute for Jerusalem, internationally guaranteed, which should safeguard the following:

a. Freedom of religion and conscience for all.

b. The equality before the law of the three monotheistic religions and their institutions and followers in the City.

c. The proper identity and sacred character of the City and its universally significant, religious and cultural heritage.

d. The Holy Places, the freedom of access to them and of worship in them.

e. The Regime of "Status Quo" in those Holy Places where it applies;

Recognizing that Palestinians, irrespective of their religious affiliation, are equal members of Palestinian society.

The second agreement followed the Vatican's 2012 recognition of the state of Palestine.  The agreement, negotiated in 2015, has not been published.