Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to
discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives
in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil
only makes it worse.”
This is the path of charity, that is, of the
love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social com
mandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the prac
tice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires
a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but
whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the
divine persons and the fraternity that men ought to
establish among themselves.
The human person needs life in society in order to
develop in accordance with his nature. Certain socie
ties, such as the family and the state, correspond more
directly to the nature of man.
“The human person . . . is and ought to be the principle,
the subject, and the object of every social organization”
25 § 1).
Widespread participation in voluntary associations
and institutions is to be encouraged.
In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, nei
ther the state nor any larger society should substitute
itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals
and intermediary bodies.
Society ought to promote the exercise of virtue, not
obstruct it. It should be animated by a just hierarchy
Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is neces
sary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to
the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is
no solution to the social question apart from the Gos