Words of Wisdom

Popes, philosophers, and Church leaders have elucidated and encouraged subsidiarity as a way of life among people of goodwill since the time of the apostles.

Subsidiarity has roots in Acts 2 of the Bible when communities of believers supported themselves through prayer and the voluntary exchange and sharing of goods and services. 

We have selected just a few quotes from the treasury of history to include here.

The primary norm for determining the scope and limits of governmental intervention is the "principle of subsidiarity" This principle states that, in order to protect basic justice, government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacities of individuals or private groups acting independently. Government should not replace or destroy smaller communities and individual initiative. Rather it should help them contribute more effectively to social well-being and supplement their activity when the demands of justice exceed their capacities. These does not mean, however, that the government that governs least, governs best. Rather it defines good government intervention as that which truly "helps" other social groups contribute to the common good by directing, urging, restraining, and regulating economic activity as 'the occasion requires and necessity demand.' -- United States Council of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice for All, #124


Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. Quadragesimo Anno (“After Forty Years”), Pope Pius XI, 1931, #79.


Distributism should capitalize better on its own potentialities by calling into question the root cause of today’s problems. My contention is that the Distributist embrace of economic localism cannot be divorced from a sound theology of the particular; “the local” needs to be rooted in an ontological soil in order to be a unique reality. I also argue that Distributist concern for the dignity of the human person and for the welfare of the community should be expressed within the context of a Christian anthropology. If Distributists want to avoid the pitfalls of materialism, they need adequate theological support. More precisely, they need to speak a Trinitarian language. Ovidiu Hurduzeu, "Insights into a Trinitarian Distributist Worldview," The Distributist Review