Subsidiarity and the Reform of the Welfare of the Nation State

  • Robert A. SiricoEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 37)


The principle of subsidiarity holds that matters of social management ought to be handled by the smallest and least centralised authority whenever possible because those closest to a problem are more likely to understand and be well situated relationally to deal with the issue effectively. This idea is a central guiding principle in the corpus of papal social encyclicals, and yet it is strangely neglected in much writing on Catholic social thought. As we face the mounting pathologies of the modern welfare state and seek meaningful reforms rooted in love of neighbour, the principle of subsidiarity (an idea with deep roots in Christian thought in and beyond the Catholic Church) can and should function as a guidepost for a new direction in the provision of social welfare and charity. Subsidiarity must take its place alongside the principle of solidarity at the center of serious reflection on social ethics and social structure, since it offers crucial guidance for our understanding of the role of the state, the family, the individual, the church, educational institutions, and the enterprising economy.


Subsidiarity Charity Welfare Civil society Government The Church Moral hazard Dependency Human dignity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and LibertyGrand RapidsUSA

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