Monday, September 13, 2010

Principles of Catholic Social Teaching: Participation

Returning to my long-neglected series. The next principle of Catholic social teaching is participation, and it derives from the principle of subsidiarity. Participation is "expressed essentially in a series of activities by means of which the citizen, either as an individual or in association with others, whether directly or through representation, contributes to the cultural, economic, political and social life of the civil community to which he belongs. Participation is a duty to be fulfilled consciously by all, with responsibility and with a view to the common good" (section 189).

If the common good is to be achieved then it is important that people do not restrict their participation to certain areas of social life. This is especially true of the disadvantaged, because of the danger that those with power may try to establish "hidden privileges".

The participation of citizens, of course, is essential for the health of democratic societies. In turn, every level of society must ensure that each of its constituents is heard.
The overcoming of cultural, juridical and social obstacles that often constitutes real barriers to the shared participation of citizens in the destiny of their communities' calls for work in the areas of information and education. In this regard, all those attitudes that encourage in citizens an inadequate or incorrect practice of participation or that cause widespread disaffection with everything connected with the sphere of social and political life are a source of concern and deserve careful consideration. For example, one thinks of attempts by certain citizens to "make deals" with institutions in order to obtain more advantageous conditions for themselves, as though these institutions were at the service of their selfish needs; or of the practice of citizens to limit their participation to the electoral process, in many cases reaching the point where they even abstain from voting.

In the area of participation, a further source of concern is found in those countries ruled by totalitarian or dictatorial regimes, where the fundamental right to participate in public life is denied at its origin, since it is considered a threat to the State itself. In some countries where this right is only formally proclaimed while in reality it cannot be concretely exercised while, in still other countries the burgeoning bureaucracy de facto denies citizens the possibility of taking active part in social and political life. (section 191)
Links
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

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About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.