It is also good to mention that, when it comes to works such as the one you have before you, as well as when considering official documents such as the Compendium and the Catechism, the citations used will differ in rank with respect to authority. There are papal addresses, encyclicals and council documents, as well as the occasional work produced by conferences of bishops such as the USCCB. Even within council documents there are varying degrees of authority between constitutions, declarations, and decrees.
While it would be possible to elaborate on the binding force of each type of document, detailing the degree of assent demanded from the believer who wishes to remain in good standing, we choose not to enter into that subject here. The reason for this approach can be found in the social conditions prevalent in our era. We have already hinted above at these conditions. Within modern liberal-democratic regimes such as the United States, the social mind tends to be preoccupied with freedom from religious authority, rather than with duty toward it. The result is that appeals to authority, whether legitimate or not, fail to exert any force whatsoever on contemporary audiences. Listeners instinctively turn against any claims on their conscience which are not chosen solely by themselves. The principle of docility, or the suggestions that a person can adopt a posture of submission while retaining his dignity, simply does not compute in cultures where each person is assured, from the cradle to the grave, that there is no higher authority than his own reason or preference, and that he owes obedience to no one. Thus, we have judged it prudent in this work to pass over an examination of the binding nature of certain documents, proceeding on to the teachings themselves in hopes that, although we will make no attempt to prove their varying degrees of authority, the reader will be sufficiently interested in the doctrines that he will explore the matter himself.
Moreover, by openly avoiding the legalistic paradigm of what one must and must not believe, we are able to outline the body of social teachings more comprehensively, because much of it consists, not in laying out what the church demands, but, as we said above, in indicating the lofty ideal for which it hopes, and after which we are obliged, as lovers of Christ, to strive.
 CSDC, 8.