Christian Social Ethics (CSE)

Christian Social Ethics has its origins in Moral Theology. In the 19th century CSE started to develop into a brunch of its own with its distinctive profile. The first chair of SCE was created in 1893 in Münster, Germany. The university of Salzburg owns one since 1967.

Christian Social Ethics calls for a political and social system that is in line with human dignity. It wants to give orientation and guidance and tries to find ways of organizing human communal life. CSE is in a constant need for dialog with the other sciences as there is no sure formula to solve social issues.


Individual human beings are the foundation, the cause and the end of every social institution. (Encyclical "Mater et magistra" John XXIII., 1961, no. 219)

Sphere of Action

  • wherever human dignity is in danger or human rights are violated
  • where responsible decisions have to be taken

Major topic since Vatican Council II

  • Commitment for worldwide justice and solidarity 
  • Commitment for human dignity and realization of human rights   
  • Linking together love, justice and mercy o   Advocating economical justice  
  • Supporting peace and non-violence o   In search for humane living conditions in our society   
  • Taking care of marginalized groups in our society   
  • The New Social Question 
  • Developing forms of a Christian policy  
  • Giving advice on how to handle power in a responsible way

Educational Objectives

Students are guided to critical reflect trends in society. They should learn to evaluate and assess the current situations according to the fundamental principles of social justice. Man precedes the world of things. Action has to be taken wherever human dignity is in danger. Students should also learn how to get in an appreciative dialogue with other sciences. Thereby sciences should learn from each other and find solutions to their problems under the premise of justice, mercy, love and solidarity.

All in all students should realize that it is of no use to simply learn by heart about the principles, to reaffirm intentions, to denounce injustice or to prophecy the judgment of God. What is needed is to combine the learned principles with action. An action that is derived from the own responsibility that every human has to take. (compare Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter: "Octogesima adveniens" (1971), no. 48).



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