Solidarity

Is Radical Love

We are Our Brother’s Keeper

No Less Than an Encounter with God

Committed to the Common Good

Suffers for the Truth

Fundamental Among Nations

Solidarity “is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good” and is fundamental to the Christian view of social and political organization.

Pope St. John Paul II, 38

“[A]ll men and women are called to live as one, each taking care of the other”.
We are “our brothers’ keeper”.

Pope Francis, 3

Solidarity flows from faith. “Love of neighbor…consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even persons whom I do not like or even know.”

Pope Benedict XVI, 18

Solidarity is Radical

At the Last Supper Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you,​ ​that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34) This is a much more radical charge because, how does God love us? ​Unremittingly​. It is no longer ​love our neighbor as our self​ but love our neighbor as God loves us​. “What is needed is the willingness to “lose ourselves” for the sake of others”. (Pope Francis, 4)

“Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well being or else my life itself becomes a lie.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 38)

Are we living a lie?

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We must internalize just how radical the principle of solidarity really is: “Let us say it once again: the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 39)

Solidarity Flows From Faith

Perhaps most importantly, Solidarity is for our ​own​ good and is a necessary component of our faith. “Love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 17) It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know”. (Pope Benedict XVI, 18)

How is this possible?

“This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God”. (Pope Benedict XVI, 18) Solidarity is also part of our call to holiness: “love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 16)

Solidarity Presupposes a “Common Father”

“True brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood.” (Pope Francis, 1)

“[B]ecause the love of God, once welcomed, becomes the most formidable means of transforming our lives and relationships with others, opening us to solidarity and to genuine sharing.” (Pope Francis, 3)

“[A] fraternity devoid of reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation is unable to endure.” (Pope Francis, 1)

Applies to Governments

Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 38)

It implies a dedication to the poor and disadvantaged through individual actions and collective initiatives to make social, political, and economic structures more just and fraternal. The same duty of solidarity that rests with individuals also exists for nations. “[I]t is a very important duty of the advanced nations to help the developing nations in discharging their… responsibilities”. (Gaudium et Spes, 86)

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The same duty of solidarity that rests with individuals exists for nations. (Gaudium et Spes) “Peace and prosperity, in fact, are goods which belong to the whole human race: it is not possible to enjoy them in a proper and lasting way if they are achieved and maintained at the cost of other peoples and nations.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 27)

“Concern for our neighbor transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 30)

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What Must I Do?

I must weave “a fabric of fraternal relationships marked by reciprocity, forgiveness and complete self-giving, according to the breadth and the depth of the love of God offered to humanity in the One who, crucified and risen, draws all to himself”. (Pope Francis, 10)

This makes clear that Solidarity is not an ideological or political principle. It is a Catholic principle – based on and emanating from faith. Absent this truth, it is not the solidarity of Catholic social doctrine.

FAQs

Q: Can you be more specific about solidarity?

A: Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 38) “The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 53)

Q: To whom does solidarity apply?

A: The commitment to solidarity explicitly calls for dedication to individual actions and collective initiatives to make social, political, and economic structures more just and fraternal — for all. The same duty of solidarity that rests with individuals exists for nations. (Pope St. Paul VI, 86) “Peace and prosperity, in fact, are goods which belong to the whole human race.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 27)  “[C]oncern for our neighbor transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 30)

“In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 7)

Q: How does solidarity play out practically?

A: Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that we should search for the causes of underdevelopment “…first of all, in the will, which often neglects the duties of solidarity”. (Caritas in Veritate, 19) The Church holds that “…the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order…it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations.” (Pope St. Paul VI, 66) “In the last analysis, they are to be found in a current self-centeredness and materialistic way of thinking.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Vatican Diplomatic Corps, January 11, 2010) Solidarity transcends cultural, political, social, and geographic boundaries to embrace the other as thyself.

Q: How is solidarity a component of our faith?

A: Perhaps more importantly, we should note that the practice of solidarity is part of our call to holiness and is a necessary component of our faith. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” (Deus Caritas Est, 16) “Only my readiness to encounter my neighbor and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well.” (Deus Caritas Est, 18) Pope Benedict XVI’s is probably the best definition of solidarity we have in Catholic social teaching – that love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment. Faith and works, in the context of solidarity, are inseparable.

Solidarity is for our own good.

Three Key Principles

Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles - Human DignitySolidarity and Subsidiarity. Human Dignity, embodied in a correct understanding of the human person, is the greatest. The others flow from it. Good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the three principles: “The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarityby creating favorable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth. Directly and according to the principle of solidarityby defending the weakest” (Pope St. John Paul II, 15)

Human Dignity

This means a correct understanding of the human person and of each person’s unique value. All Catholic social teaching flows from this: the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image. This is “the basis not only of the unity of the human family but also of our inviolable human dignity” (Pope Benedict XVI) and it is in this beginning that human rights are grounded.

Solidarity

Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good” (Pope St. John Paul II, 38). Love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment. “We cannot believe in God the Father without seeing a brother or sister in every person, and we cannot follow Jesus without giving our lives for those for whom he died on the cross.” (Pope Francis)

Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity identifies how decisions in society need to be taken at the lowest competent level. “It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by the lesser and subordinate bodies”. (Pope Pius XI, 79)

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