Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Principle of Subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity holds that a larger and greater body should not exercise functions which can be carried out efficiently by one smaller and lesser, but rather the former should support the latter and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the whole community.
This principle has been named to me via three different sources in conversation, reading, and email within the last three days.

Although I felt I understood it in context each time, I figured I'd better be sure I really knew what it meant. I approve of this principle. Although my search for the definition brought up references to Catholic social principles, business, and the European Union ... all three of my original instances were in reference to parish life.

Just in case anyone else out there has been bombarded with subsidiarity, I thought I'd pass this along.


  1. The concept is a biggie with Hilaire Belloc.

  2. Ahhh, one of those guys I always mean to get around to reading. Life is short, the stack of books tall. :-D

  3. ...or you could read about it in the Catechism, #1883 (http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c2a1.htm#I) which references Pop Pius XI's encyclical Quaddragesima Anno" (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno_en.html)

  4. Well I could if only it had been on Google's first page of links! Sheez! :-D

    However, now that you have kindly clued me in, I will do that when I go home. thanks! :-)

  5. Of course, Quadragesima Anno celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in which he (Leo) first describes (in paragraphs 20-21)what would become known as the principle of subsidiarity.