Solidarity and Policy

Earlier this week, I gave a talk at St. Peter’s Parish in North St. Paul, as part of their Lenten series on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. My topic was the principles of solidarity and how it comes into play in our thinking about issue of law and public policy.

Solidarity is one of the fundamental principles of Catholic Social Thought. One of the primary outgrowths of the principles of dignity of the human person, the principle of solidarity recognizes that a basic element of human existence is interdependence and relationship; that living as human means living in community.

However, interdependence alone does not fully capture the sense of solidarity. One can recognize interdependence and still be resentful or indifferent toward it, taking advantage of others with whom they are interconnected. Interdependence alone does not rule out domination or exploitation. Solidarity is not just about acknowledging the fact of interdependence. Rather, it shapes the response we should have to interdependence, evoking in us a desire to build the bonds of human life. Solidarity reminds us of our relationship with other members of our human family: that all are our brothers and sisters.

One of the things I emphasized in my talk is that we should not just think of solidarity as an interesting intellectual concept. Rather, the invitation is to embrace the principle, to let it shape who we are in the world and how we view our repsonsibilities toward our brothers and sisters. That is a much more challenging invitation in Lent than simply giving up chocolate or alcohol.

You can stream the talk from the icon below or can download it from here. (Remember that you can now also subscribe to Creo en Dios! podcasts on iTunes.)

After my talk, I gave those attending some time for silent reflection. You can find the handout I gave them with some questions to consider during that reflection time here. We had a good discussion the talk and individual reflection time…but for that, well, you just had to be there.