Integral Subsidiarity and Economy of Communion: Two Challenges from Caritas in Veritate

By Guitian, Gregorio | Journal of Markets & Morality, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Integral Subsidiarity and Economy of Communion: Two Challenges from Caritas in Veritate


Guitian, Gregorio, Journal of Markets & Morality


Introduction

In June 2009, Benedict XVI signed his first social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), (1) dedicated to integral human development in the context of globalization. Since then, many commentaries have been published on various aspects of this encyclical. (2) Among the challenges proposed to the world of economics by the encyclical, the perspective offered by the renewed explanation of the subsidiarity principle has not received much attention. This principle, just as it is addressed in the pontifical document, is connected to important issues that are conveniently highlighted: the logic of giving and gratuity, the call to concern for the common good, and even the promoting of a different way of doing business that already exists in the present time.

Indeed, the renewed explanation of subsidiarity is connected to the reference that the encyclical makes to the experience of the economy of communion. This business model exemplifies how it is possible to apply the logic of giving, subsidiarity, and the concern for the common good to the business world.

In this article, we shall first present the understanding of subsidiarity in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate (hereafter CV), which can guide both the plans of development aid as well as corporate social responsibility in business. To that end, we shall first briefly look back at some fundamental theological ideas to understand the principle just as it is presented in CV. Second, we shall explain the reference that CV makes to businesses of the economy of communion, as a practical example of the exercise of business activity framed in Christian values, among them subsidiarity.

The Subsidiarity Principle

Subsidiarity is probably the most famous of the principles of the social doctrine of the Church (henceforth SDC). This is so for several reasons, among which is its adoption by the European Union (then the European Community) as a general clause of the important Maastricht Treaty (1992). When it came time to design the relationship among the member countries and the government of the European Union, the subsidiarity principle was considered a means to regulate the division of competences between each member and the Union.

This vision was influenced by the first formulation of the subsidiarity principle back in 1931. Pope Pius XI then tried to defend the freedom of the people and of intermediate groups in a context clearly framed by interventionism by totalitarian states. On that occasion, he formulated subsidiarity as a "fixed and unshaken" principle in these terms:

   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. (3)

Years later, in 1991, John Paul II simplified that formulation in the encyclical Centesimus Annus, concerning democracy and capitalism: "A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (4)

This is how this principle is commonly known in the economic world. However, subsidiarity has a richer theological background that can only be captured using a collective vision of the related SDC. Naturally, it is not possible for us to look at this point now. However, to understand the meaning of the contribution of CV when it proposes subsidiarity in the context of the economic development of countries, it is sufficient to succinctly highlight some ideas of the theological substrate of this principle.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Integral Subsidiarity and Economy of Communion: Two Challenges from Caritas in Veritate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.