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Solidarity

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Solidarity is the sixth key principle of Catholic Social Teaching and a Christian virtue articulated by Pope John Paul II which amplifies the concept of the common good and holds that for Christians it is essential to act in favor of the well being of all, particularly those who are most poor and marginalized from political influence.

"Solidarity is undoubtedly a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God's triune intimate life...."[1] It is a unity that binds members of a group together.

All the peoples of the world belong to one human family. We must be our brother's keeper,[2] though we may be separated by distance, language or culture. Jesus teaches that we must each love our neighbors as ourselves and in the parable of the Good Samaritan we see that our compassion should extend to all people.[3] Solidarity includes the Scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us—including immigrants seeking work, a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families.

Solidarity at the international level primarily concerns the Global South. For example, the Church has habitually insisted that loans be forgiven on many occasions, particularly during Jubilee years.[4] Charity to individuals or groups must be accompanied by transforming unjust structures.

In Solicitudo Rei Socialis, a major document of Catholic Social Teaching, Pope John Paul II identifies the concept of solidarity with the poor and marginalized as a constitutive element of the Gospel and essential for lasting peace. Some quotes:

  • Solidarity... is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.(#39)
  • A world divided into blocs, in which instead of solidarity imperialism and exploitation hold sway, can only be a world structured in sin. Those structures of sin are rooted in sins committed by individual persons, who introduced these structures and reinforced them again and again. One can blame selfishness, shortsightedness, mistaken political decisions, and imprudent economic decisions; at the root of the evils that afflict the world there is -- in one way or another -- sin.(#36)
  • Solidarity is a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God's triune intimate life;(#40)
  • Solidarity helps us to see the 'other'-whether a person, people or nation-not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our 'neighbor,' a 'helper' to be made a sharer on a par with ourselves in the banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God.(#39)
  • Interdependence must be transformed into solidarity, grounded on the principle that the goods of creation are meant for all. Avoiding every type of imperialism, the stronger nations must feel responsible for the other nations, based on the equality of all peoples and with respect for the differences.(#39)


ReferencesEdit

  1. Solicitudo Rei Socialis § 40.
  2. see Genesis 4:9.
  3. see Luke 10:25-37.
  4. Bono recalls pontiff's affection for the poor — and cool sunglasses.

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