Is this just for Catholics? Not at all! All of the recent encyclicals are addressed to “all of goodwill”. As the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says: “the teachings are also for the brethren of other churches and ecclesial communities, to the followers of other religions, as well as to people of goodwill who are committed to serving the common good.” The teachings do though have special significance for Catholics for whom the pursuit of social justice has been stipulated as a faith commitment.
I would hope they will add more links to the work of other denominations, eg JPIT, and ecumenical organisations, eg Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
With that reservation I have to say the site is excellent, covering six themes and plenty of resources and suggestions for action. One particular strength is its section on Principles, which offers a detailed history of Catholic Social Teaching and reviews relevant documents. Here's an excerpt from their Introduction and Principles:
What is Catholic Social Teaching? (CST)
- authoritative Church teaching on social, political and economic issues
- informed by Gospel values and the lived experience of Christian reflection
- analysing that experience from different historical, political and social contexts
- providing principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and guidelines for action
- thus enabling us in our struggle to live our faith in justice and peace
- a ‘third way’ between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism… rather it constitutes a category of its own. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, paragraph 41).
- an ideology, but rather the result of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and the Church’s tradition… It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of moral theology. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, paragraph 41).
- a model: the Church has no models to present; models that are real and effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in their social, political and cultural aspects, as these interact with each other. (Centesimus Annus, pargraph 43).
CST has been called the Catholic Church's "big secret", amounting to a massive and historic web of ethical and theological thought on social practice.
Recently, controversial Church teaching on contraception and human sexuality, questioned or rejected by many inside and outside the institution, has come across in the media as the main preoccupation of Catholic thinkers, along with hardline stances on abortion and other bioethical concerns.
But commentators and academics rightly point out that this is a very one-sided view of what the Catholic tradition of social thought, rooted in enquiring faith, has to offer.
In recent years, a strongly critical stance towards free market capitalism, militarism and environmental degradation has emerged from moral theologians and the Church's official teaching position, for example.