Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components of our Faith, having the potential to place the laity on the path to discovering our supernatural destiny.

Catholic Social Teaching informs us that good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the principles of CST. As John Paul II said:

"The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favourable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth" (CA, 15)

You can’t have one without the other!

The principles of Solidarity and Subsidiarity, despite enjoying over a century of magisterial reflection on the nature of politics, economics and culture, have been presented or interpreted as independent of each other or even, at times, in conflict.


"The principle of SUBSIDIARITY must remain closely linked to the principle of SOLIDARITY and vice versa" (CIV, 58)


"the former without the latter gives way to social privatism, while the latter without the former gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need." (CIV, 58)

Subsidiarity and Solidarity both “flow” From Human Dignity

These two foundational principles of CST are both offspring of the prime principle, Human Dignity, which flows from the correct understanding of the human person.

Solidarity and Subsidiarity are both born in and expressions of human dignity and both are absolutely central to the implementation of Catholic social doctrine. 

While the case for solidarity deriving from human dignity may, at first, appear to be easier to grasp than for subsidiarity - in fact, most times it is not.

Pope Benedict tells us that, “undoubtedly the principle of subsidiarity [is] an expression of inalienable human freedom.

"SUBSIDIARITY is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person" (CIV, 57)


"SUBSIDIARITY respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. " (CIV, 57)

Solidarity and Subsidiarity are Key Components of our Faith!

Pope Benedict (and this is very deep insight) points out that “the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity…have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their supernatural destiny.” (Address to the 14th Pontifical Council on Social Sciences, May 2008)

“True solidarity” he tells us, “begins with an acknowledgment of the equal worth of the other” and “comes to fulfillment only when I willingly place my life at the service of others. Herein lays the “vertical” dimension of solidarity: I am moved to make myself less than the other so as to minister to his or her needs.” (Address to the 14th Pontifical Council on Social Sciences, May 2008)

“Similarly, subsidiarity…manifests a “vertical” dimension pointing towards the Creator of the social order. A society that honors the principle of subsidiarity liberates people…granting them the freedom to engage with one another in the spheres of commerce, politics and culture…they leave space for individual responsibility and initiative, but most importantly, they leave space for love”. (Address to the 14th Pontifical Council on Social Sciences, May 2008)

What amazing insights! Catholic social teaching offers not only a prescription for “living our lives together” in society but, simultaneously, points us to God.

What are the Human Rights on which the State Must be Ordered?

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What makes up Society?

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What Must the State do to Ensure Subsidiarity is Respected?


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Just a Thought
Over 120 years ago, Pope Leo XIII introduced the idea of a “just” wage in his encyclical, Rerum Novarum.  He defined the just wage as an amount needed to support a thrifty and upright worker plus his family, and prescribed that it must be sufficient enough to allow the worker to save and acquire property of his own.  Read more