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This essay will reflect on the importance of Catholic social teaching in public health ethics, especially in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic social teaching will be presented as being continuous with Catholic moral teaching—while the latter sets out norms and prohibitions often in relation to individual agents and their actions, the Church’s social doctrine invites us to think of the community and social dimension of the moral good. To illustrate this continuity of doctrine, I will argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a need for a serious evaluation of the relationship between public health and the common good, in light of the far-reaching and long-lasting public health measures that have been used around the world, such that the good of health has dominated considerations of almost all other aspects of life.

Original publication




Journal article


The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly


Philosophy Documentation Center

Publication Date





221 - 229