Ethical Directive Catholic Social Teaching

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 4
Words: 1119
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


Catholic social teaching (CST) is one of the central doctrines that claim human dignity and the common good as its main values. They spread across all the spheres of life, including medical services. CST sees all humans’ well-being as a result of collaboration between medical science and the Church (USCCB, 2018). Science and faith are not supposed to contradict each other, as their principal values, such as love, trust, and freedom, coincide. That is why the four guiding principles of Catholic social teaching may help fulfill people’s needs for quality, transparent and effective medical care services. However, it is still urgent to promote justice in the health care system because both patients’ and nurses’ dignity are sometimes violated, especially today when the COVID-19 pandemic affects people’s lives and threatens their health. The best way to do it is to implement and observe the basic Catholic social teaching principles, especially the individual’s dignity, in the global health system.

The Impact of the CST on the “Life and Dignity of the Human Person” Principle

The principle of human dignity alongside love is the crucial postulate of Catholic social teaching. In other words, every person, despite their age, social status, race, and sex, should be treated correctly. People are made in the image of God, and every life is sacred and should be treated with proper respect and credit (USCCB, 2018). This principle relates to all spheres of life and should be observed everywhere every time.

When speaking of those postulates regarding the health care system, it seems reasonable to relate them both to patients and nurses. The CST claims that people should get basic and qualified medical services regardless of their welfare or status. Apart from that, the CST acknowledges that poor people should be the first to get quality health care (Waters et al., 2017). Since people’s life and dignity are the major principles of the Catholic doctrine, it is prohibited for all Christian medical professionals to use any treatment that may result in a patient’s death. That is why doctors are not supposed to promote euthanasia, abortion, and physician-aided suicide (Condit, 2016). The medical service is to be guided by the moral principles of the Church that exclude any option of taking a patient’s life and provide the patient with high-quality treatment to alleviate his pain instead.

The principle of respecting patients’ dignity in the CST also involves the notion of transparency. Thus, doctors are to provide clear explanations of the way of treatment they choose for a patient, and it will be up to the last one to decide if to accept it or not. Apart from that, health care providers are to guarantee their patients access to the medical services and pills they need to recover. However, in the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, this rule is not always executable due to large numbers of severely ill patients (Kenny et al., 2021). Many Catholic doctors face moral dilemmas today, as their desire and duty to provide all the patients with the treatment they need clashes with the amount of medication and equipment they have at their disposal. That is why many patients are not treated accordingly, and their dignity is severely violated, however, not due to the willingness of the medical professionals but due to the circumstances.

The principle of human dignity in the health care system should be mutual. Hence, patients should respect the medical personnel, not insult them and consider their professional opinions (Condit, 2016). Mutual trust and respect enable patients and doctors to trust in each other and help the patient reveal the details about his disease to the doctor to get proper treatment. It is also important to mention that the professional-patient relationship is inseparable from the moral values of Catholic social teaching. That is why medical professionals should treat their patients accordingly, with trust and respect for their life and dignity. The patients should not offend their doctor and consider his recommendations and the prescribed way of treatment.

The Impact of the CST on the “Dignity of Work and Rights of Worker” Principle

The concept of workplace dignity first appeared in philosophy and sociology. Generally, it relates to the idea of decent work, and its characteristics include autonomy, status, humanity, and work contribution (Scott-Campbell & Williams, 2020). The main factors that ensure dignity at work are promoting and protecting workers’ dignity (Thomas & Lucas, 2019). That is why the key to building a successful institution is in respectful and decent work of all its members. The notion of decent work usually relates to human dignity in general because it is assumed that all people have a right to decent work conditions. Apart from that, when the workplace environment is safe and secure, the productivity of the employees is growing (Tiwari & Sharma, 2019). That is why employees’ working potential depends mainly on the working conditions.

The workplace dignity applies to Catholic social teaching as well, although, its description there is more specified. The “Dignity of Work and Rights of Worker” is the second fundamental postulate of Catholic social teaching. The Church believes work to be more than just a way to earn money. According to the CST, work is a chance for a human being to participate in God’s creation. Since God respects and cherishes people, he should honor the dignity of their work. In that case, the dignity of work is associated with a chance for every human being to be provided with a job, get a fair and decent salary, and work in safe conditions. These principles are observed in the healthcare system as well because all Catholic healthcare institutions ensure the respectful treatment of their workers. However, the respect should be mutual, that is why all the medical personnel working for the Catholic health care institutions should respect their religious mission and adhere to it (USCCB, 2018). Hence, the CST institutions respect their worker’s dignity in rights assuming that they uphold their Christian mission.


Taking into consideration all mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that Catholic social teaching provides people with high-quality medical services despite the challenges the health care system faces nowadays. Hence, it is essential to take its experience into account, as not many medical institutions can ensure both adequate treatment and a respectful attitude towards all patients. Being one of the most challenging spheres of life, the global health care system needs to be fair and provide quality medical services for everyone. That is why the CST’s contribution to global health is so essential – because the institution not only ensures medical services regardless of people’s age, sex, race, and social status but also guarantees that they will be treated respectfully and adequately.


Condit, D. P. (2016). Catholic social teaching: Precepts for healthcare reform. The Linacre Quarterly, 83(4), pp. 370-374. Web.

Kenny, N., Kotalik, J., Herx, L., Coelho, R., Leiva, R. (2021). A Catholic perspective: Triage principles and moral distress in pandemic scarcity. The Linacre Quarterly, 88(2), 214-223. Web.

Scott-Campbell, C. & Williams, M. (2020). Validating the workplace dignity scale. Collabra: Psychology, 6(1), p. 31. Web.

Tiwari, A. & Sharma, R. R. (2019). Dignity at the workplace: Evolution of the construct and development of workplace dignity scale. Frontiers in Psychology. Web.

The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). (2018). Ethical and religious directives for Catholic healthcare services (6th ed.). Digital Edition.

Thomas, B. & Lukas, K. (2019). Development and validation of the workplace dignity scale. Group & Organization Management, 44(1), 72-111. Web.

Waters, N. P., Schmale, T., Goetz, A., Eberl, J. & Wells, J. H. (2017). A call to promote healthcare justice: A summary of integrated outpatient clinics exemplifying principles of Catholic social teaching. The Linacre Quarterly, 84(1), 57-73. Web.