“Subsidiarity” is not a word we tend to use in everyday speech. However, this fundamental principle is key – one of the three cornerstone principles of Catholic Social Teaching – so we need to understand it, and its application to social, political, and economic spheres.

The principle of subsidiarity holds that the state should undertake only those tasks which are beyond the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.

"...that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them." (QA, 79)

Can you explain Subsidiarity further?

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What is the “definition” of Subsidiarity?

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Why is Subsidiarity important?

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How does Subsidiarity foster freedom?

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Why must the state respect Subsidiarity?

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What results when the Principle of Subsidiarity is absent or lacking?

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