Common Good and Catholic Social Teaching Principles

1.     The ways human torture challenges the aspects of common good and Catholic Social Teaching (CST):

The common good can be considered as a condition where every individual is collectively happy in a societal structure. The principles of the common good have in the law, politics and philosophy of the contemporary world (Costa & Ramus, 2012). A certain school of thought believes that human being should be given the absolute freedom and another school of thought believes in controlling the human behaviour to maintain a peaceful society. I believe that there are some of the key Catholic social teaching (CST) principals that we need to understand in details. These few key principles of Catholic social teaching (CST) provides a guideline to the nature of human life in a social structure (Hathaway O. A., 2002).

One of the most important key principles of CST is human dignity. Human dignity is considered the highest priority and it is also considered to be the basis of the moral vision of a peaceful society. The promotion of peace is another important aspect of CST principles which indicates the fact that action should be taken which is based on the positive aspects of the society. As stated by Méndez, (2013) according to the principles of CST is not the absence of War that makes a peaceful society but it is mutual respect, and the sense of belonging to the society is one of the important factors for sustaining peace in the society (Méndez, 2013). By understanding the principles of CST, I have found that a community is also considered to be an important part of the CST principles and our community-driven approach rather than the individualism approach is considered to be beneficial for the social peace and harmony.

As stated by Goodhart, (2013) through this key principles and guidelines are provided for a harmonious social living but they are some of the challenges that exist threatens the idea of common good and various CST principles (Goodhart, 2013). Human torture is one such major threat that challenges the common good and various Catholic principles. It is generally felt that The Torture victim exists in an emergency condition and a condition where there is political instability, however, the truth is that torture still exists in its cruel form in many of the prisons letting human being live in attachable conditions. The principles of common good and CST highlights the aspects of human dignity to be one of its prior goals (Bergman, 2011). However, the existence of torture victims indicates the fact that human dignity is majorly challenged thus, challenging the principles of the common good and various principles of CST.

2.     Different ways to address the challenge to achieve a more just community or society:

2.1.Independence of Judiciary

The Judiciary needs to have more independence in the state to ensure the fact that they can take positive approaches towards minimising torture. In several cases of torture victims, in my opinion, that political influence plays a major role. Separation of politics and the legal system is an important factor (Phillips, 2014). If there is a political influence on the decisions of the law and the court, it is bound to be biased which would lead to circumstances where human torture is inevitable.

As stated by torture seeks to hurt the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. In no circumstances can be torture be considered a justified way to solve the crime (Nowak & McArthur, 2009). It can be understood that there are some of the grave crimes happening in different parts of the world which is not to be accepted however with the mode of torturing this criminal it will not end up the problem neither it will bring in fair to the other people who are intending to do the same (Landman, 2004). Thus torture can never be a solution to the problems of the world understanding the common good and the Catholic beliefs help in concluding that torture would lead to negative influences rather than bringing social good. Independent judiciary will help in taking the right decision without any political and diplomatic pressure (Nowak & McArthur, 2009). The crime needs to be rectified, and the criminals are also to be treated as human beings. It is one of the most important factors that need to be considered for when it comes to the matter of taking judgement. The fair judgement is only possible in the circumstance where there is no external pressure on the judiciary.

2.2.Adherence to the CST principles

It is not that a person guilty of a crime should not be punished, but torture is not the way to punish an individual considering the fact that CST principles encourage peace and positive approach, torture cannot be considered to be a mode of punishment even for a grave crime (Costa & Ramus, 2012). Human torture that exists in a different form is a threat to the human dignity and peaceful living. Several measures need to be adapted to minimise the different form of torture in the society (Hafner-Burton & Tsutsui, 2005). As stated by the united nation “Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being” (United Nations, 2018). At the local level, there are some of the measures that can be taken to avoid torture which challenges the common good and various CST principles.

The prohibition of torture with no exceptional circumstances to justify the same is an important step to be taken at the domestic and local level. As stated by (Hathaway O. A., 2007) torture it is to be considered a crime under the criminal law irrespective of any circumstances and any conditions. The inclusion is many penalties and punishment for the crime of torture. Several rights need to be given to an individual in the society which also includes the criminals (Keith, 2017). These rights include the right to choose the lawyers and seek medical help in extreme circumstances. Torture should not be considered a medium to break silence the right to remain silence next to you provided by the law to ensure that torture has been prohibited.

2.3.Adherence to the guidelines of the international organisations of Human Rights

The modes of punishment need to be based on the international principles and the guidelines of the human rights. The existence of torture indicates the cruel nature that exists among the human beings. As opined by Hathaway, (2002) the torture can never be the mode of punishment for any grave offence. However, corrective measure and rectifying approach are to be considered while judgements are being provided for the prime that would lead to a society where human aspects are being discussed, and the factors of common good and the principles of Catholic social teachings are being upheld (Schutter, 2011). Human dignity and overall peace are the two fundamental principles that would form the major guidelines to avoid torches that exist in various forms in the society of the contemporary time. As stated by (Cath News, 2018) “torture is a mortal sin! Christian communities must commit themselves to help victims of torture” (Cath News, 2018). The human dignity is being challenged to a great extent when the aspects of torture come into existence. As per the Catholic ways of understanding humans life torture is a significant scene and no matter what crime and individual commit torture cannot be the way to solve the issue that the problem (Cath News, 2018). Negativity would bring more negativity and would lead to circumstances where a negative environment would spread all over and across (Osler & Starkey, 2017). It is one of the reasons why torture needs to be avoided in all forms with legal or in a societal way.


Bergman, R. C. (2011). Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith that Does Justice. New York: Fordham Univ Press.

Cath News. (2018, June 27). We must help victims of torture: Pope.

Costa, E., & Ramus, T. (2012). The Italian Economia Aziendale and Catholic Social Teaching: How to Apply the Common Good Principle at the Managerial Level. Journal of Business Ethics, 106(1), 103-116.

Goodhart, M. (2013). Human Rights: Politics and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hafner-Burton, E. M., & Tsutsui, K. (2005). Human rights in a globalizing world: The paradox of empty promises. American Journal of Sociology, 110(5), 1373-1411.

Hathaway, O. A. (2002). Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference? Yale Law Journal, 1-108.

Hathaway, O. A. (2007). Why do countries commit to human rights treaties? Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51(4), 588-621.

Keith, K. J. (2017). Challenges to the Independence of the International Judiciary: Reflections on the International Court of Justice. Leiden Journal of International Law, 30(1), 137-154.

Landman, T. (2004). Measuring Human Rights: Principle, Practice, and Policy. Human Rights Quarterly, 26(4), 906-931.

Méndez, J. E. (2013, February 1). Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Nowak, M., & McArthur, E. (2009, April 1). The United Nations Convention Against Torture. A Commentary. European Journal of International Law, 20(2), 457-462.

Osler, A., & Starkey, H. (2017). Teacher Education and Human Rights (1st ed.). London: Routledge.

Phillips, W. G. (2014). Complaints Against Judges and Public Confidence in the Judiciary: Does South Australia Need a Complaints Handling Body? Civil Justice Quarterly, 33(4), 421-427.

Schutter, O. D. (2011). Human Rights and the Rise of International Organisations: The Logic of Sliding Scales in the Law International Responsabilité. Accountability for Human Rights Violations by International Organizations (International Law 7), 55-112.

United Nations. (2018, July 17). International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

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