Catholic Morals & Values

One of the cornerstones of Catholic morals and values is the sanctity of marriage and family values.
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The Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Pope John Paul II in 1992, gives instructions to Catholics about following a spiritually and morally correct life. According to the Catechism, Catholic morals and values revolve around spiritual devotion, devotion to the family unit and church family, charity work and respect for and promotion of human dignity. The Ten Commandments also form a basis for a spiritually healthy society and are included in the Catechism.

1 The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as fundamental to spiritual and moral integrity. The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and state: “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods. No graven images or likenesses. Not take the Lord's name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day. Honor thy father and thy mother. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet.”

2 Family & Community

Catholics put special importance on family values such as unity, fidelity and respect both within the domestic family unit and in the church family. Catholics believe the church community is strengthened by procreation of families. Education of children in the ways of the church is a process that begins at home and later is shared by the church community. It is a child's responsibility to respect their parents and to care for them in their elder years. Parents have a responsibility to set an example to their children of spiritual devotion, charity and fidelity. Support and family counseling are offered by the church community in order to promote spiritual and familial stability.

3 Sexuality and Moral Instruction

The Catholic Church decrees that sexual acts must be “unitive, procreative and marital.” Following this decree, the Catholic Church lists homosexuality, masturbation, premarital sex, contraception and abortion as mortal sins. In some cases, the practice of such acts or the demonstrated support of another's right to practice them can lead to excommunication by the church. Divorce is granted when permission is sought by church authorities.

4 Human Dignity & Charity Work

A basic principle of Catholic morality and values is that each individual has inherent worth and human dignity. Catholics promote charity work in order to ensure that those who are less fortunate have their basic needs met. They also support causes that fight to protect the rights of workers and human rights. The most well-known defender of these values in the Catholic Church was Mother Teresa, whose life was defined by her charity work and compassion for human suffering.

Lynn Blanch is a writer, translator and educator. She is the co-founder of an educational/cultural nonprofit in Brazil, speaks fluent Portuguese and has published a travel blog. She holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College.