The Principle of Solidarity and Subsidiarity as Defined By Pope Benedict XVI

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Pope Benedict XVI draws his definition of solidarity from Paul VI articulated vision of development (XVI, 2009). According to Paul VI then, solidarity is when an educated society comes together to rescue its members from deprivation, illiteracy, hunger, and disease. Then the society when observed from an economic standpoint is seen to give equal opportunity, and when viewed from a social point of view, it shows togetherness and from a political point of view, the society is seen as a consolidation of democratic regimes that ensure freedom and peace (XVI, 2009, S. 21).

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The Pontiff goes further to note in Chapter Three for the Caritas in Veritate that mans failure to instill solidarity and mutual trust in his economic development has made the market unable to fulfill its functions. That is, todays economic market is marred by a severe lack of moral compass which in turn means that the market is open to forces of destruction that have created new forms of poverty. If the man can open up the economy, as well as other aspects of his life, to solidarity, he can civilize the economy and make it such that it everyone is open to giving and sharing without oppressing anyone.

Subsidiarity gives a person help through the autonomy of intermediate bodies according to the Pontiff (2009, S.57). He also says that the principle of subsidiarity is a turn of phrase for the inalienable right of freedom which all men enjoy. When speaking of intermediate bodies, the Pontiff notes that they offer assistance when individuals or groups of individuals are incapable of realizing results on their own. Through the principle of subsidiarity, men can achieve self-dignity, and hence this principle provides an all-encompassing welfare state (2009, S. 57). The Pontiff also notes that since the principle of subsidiarity is capable of accounting and articulating of plans, it forms the solid foundation for the management of globalization driven by authentic human development (2009, S. 57). Both the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity must be closely linked because one cannot work without the other, without creating social anarchy.

Workings of Microfinance Institutions

Microfinance institutions lend out funds to members, and as the members repay their loans, they grow their credit lines which allow them to take out larger loans in the future. Additionally, members are required to contribute a percentage of their income to a savings account operated by the microfinance so as to safeguard against loan defaults in the future.

Guided by the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, I would fund Felistan (World Vision, n.d), a mother of one child living in Kenya. She is 41 years old, and she has been running a small business in her community for the last five years. Since she is in the retail business, there is a high chance that she will scale quickly and make profits that will be able to sustain her and her child. The principle of solidarity calls for the society to come to the aid of the needy while the principle of subsidiarity tells us to help individuals achieve their goals in situations where they are unable to on their own, which is why I would choose to help Felistan.

Role of Microfinance in Assuring Solidarity and Subsidiarity In the Community

Microfinance institutions are a vital part of the community as they provide an avenue through which members can uplift themselves. Through microfinance, individuals can tackle opportunities they would not have been able to tackle previously as they offer economic support. As such, microfinance institutions are gatekeepers of the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity.


Mystery of The Poor According To Dorothy Day

Dorothy identifies the mystery of the poor by noting that the people she was tending to were Jesus. As such, whatever service she extended to them, together with the others, she was reaching to the Lord Jesus. Through such service, Christians can realize and believe in their love. To her, the mystery of poverty is making oneself poor by giving to others and thereby increasing Christian knowledge and faith in love.

From that perspective, one can only serve Christ by serving a fellow man, regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, if you comes across someone without food to eat for instance, and you happen to be on your last ration, you should share with the hungry person. Only by sharing can one begin to know the love of Christ, and what He sacrificed for us on the Cross.

How A Person Makes Room For Christ

One can make room for Christ by opting to live among the poor and not just taking care of them from a distance. Living among the poor solidifies the love you have for your fellow man, and makes you appreciate their circumstances. In essence, the poor are undergoing a protracted crucifixion, and living among them and offering them assistance is akin to helping Christ carry the cross. Dorothy Day says We can do now what those who knew Him in the days of His flesh did. Im sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and her Child in the stable, but somehow found them room, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough. (Day, 1945)

What Are the Works of Mercy

In her book Scandals of the Work of Mercy Dorothy Day notes that the spiritual works of mercy are to admonish the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries, and to pray for the living and the dead. She also notes that feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, ransoming the captive, providing shelter to the shelterless, comforting the sick, and clothing the sick are also works of Mercy, especially according to Peter Maurin (The Scandal of the Works of Mercy, 1949). These are not pleasant works and rarely give physical joy. However, they promise spiritual reward as the Lord Jesus himself commissioned these works.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Day, D. (1945). Room For Christ. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from Catholic Worker Movement:

Day, D. (1949, 4). The Scandal of the Works of Mercy. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from Common Weal Magazine:

World Vision. (n.d). Felistan N. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from World Vision Microfinance:


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