As principles are norms of actions pursuant to relevant beliefs, teachings and convictions, values constitute the ethical code of conduct, pursuant rules and practices. Needless to say, there is a relationship of reciprocity between principles and values in the sense that as principles promote values, so is it that values generate principles. Thus it is that as social values eventually bring about principles in social living, social principles build up social values. But to be right, proper and just, said principles and values have to be in accord with objective ethical rules and moral norms. Otherwise, the principles and values concerned might not be simply errant but also vicious to the detriment of society – such as the errant classification of egoistic human dignity, the false claim of exclusive human rights and other social aberrations. It is precisely such base and debasing principles and factors that usually cause social disorder of many kinds and in different degrees – to the ultimate disturbance of life in society. So it is that the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches proper values and affirms sound social principles – all for the good of every human person as a social being.
All social values are inherent to the dignity of the human person, whose authentic development they foster. Essentially, these values as truth, freedom, justice.
Truth means reality – in the objective sphere, in the realm of facts, in world of actualities as perceived by sound mind according to the norms of reason, the rules of logic. That man is a social being – this is a basic truth. That man needs society and that society needs him – these are consequential truths. In the same way, other key truths about man are his inherent human dignity, his basic human rights, his fundamental equality with all others – irrespective of the latter’s political office and economic standing. So is it that men and women have the specific duty to move always towards the truth, to respect it and bear responsibility for its observance.
Freedom is the noblest feature of man as a being made in the Divine Image and consequently, a sign of the sublime dignity of every human person. In other words, human freedom is premised on the knowledge of truth in the human mind and the emergence of good in the human will. When man thereby acts through the said combined strictly human attributes, this is the premise of human freedom – contrary to which is falsehood in the mind and evil in the will. It is genuine human freedom – the freedom to seek what is true and to pursue what is good, to help the poor and to free the unjustly shackled in society through dehumanizing means.
Justice is giving to each one what is his/her due (“Commutative Justice”), the people giving to the government what is its due (“Distributive justice”). The composite of the three said categories of justice, is called “Social Justice”. Understandably, the Social Doctrine of the Church has Social Justice as a primary concern just as man – with his intrinsic human dignity and inalienable human rights – is its primary and pursuant central attention. Without human dignity, justice does not make sense.