326 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived
We need to respect the human dignity of every person. Governments
and all other social institutions should serve and enhance the dignity of
people. Society has the responsibility to create the conditions that favor
the growth of virtues and of authentic spiritual and material values.
People need to live in a human community where the authority is
based on human nature and recognized and understood as having its ori-
gin in God (cf. CCC, nos. 1898, 1899). Political authority should be used
for the common good. “The common good comprises ‘the sum total of
social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individu-
als, to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily’” (CCC, no. 1924,
citing GS, no. 26 §1). Governments ought to use morally acceptable
means to foster the common good of all and establish the conditions
that assure citizens of the proper exercise of their freedom. In fostering
this common good excessive intervention by the government in the lives
of individuals is to be avoided. The principle of subsidiarity teaches that
governments should help and support individuals and groups for whom
they are responsible without controlling their freedom and initiative (cf.
CCC, no. 1883).
Just as governments and social institutions need to respect the
unique human dignity of every individual, it is also the responsibility of
every individual to do the same. Attitudes of prejudice and bias against
any individual for any reason, as well as actions or judgments based on
prejudiced or biased views, violate God’s will and law.
Social justice is both an attitude and a practical response based on
the principle that everyone should look at another person as another self.
It is also a virtue that directs all the other virtues of individuals toward
the common good. Civil laws can partially help to eliminate fears, preju-
dices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness that cause injustice, but an
inner spiritual conversion is also needed.
Solidarity with others at every level is a way of accomplishing this.
Solidarity takes many forms: “solidarity of the poor among themselves,
between rich and poor, of workers among themselves, between employ-
ers and employees in a business, solidarity among nations and peoples”
(CCC, no. 1941).