IV. The principle of the common good [156 – 158]

I have begun to publish sections and segments of the Popes letter on OUR network of blogs as well as on Linkedin & Quora & Newsvine and will add my comments over time. Papa Francisco's 180 page letter is much less about religion than it is about nature and the planet earth. He proposes some fairly radical yet simple and understandable solutions for humankind. It is way past time to start paying attention to what we are all doing or allowing others to do.
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156. Human ecology is inseparable from the
notion of the common good, a central and unifying
principle of social ethics. The common
good is “the sum of those conditions of social
life which allow social groups and their individual
members relatively thorough and ready access
to their own fulfilment”.122

157. Underlying the principle of the common
good is respect for the human person as such,
endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered

121 Catechesis (15 April 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 16
April 2015, p. 8.
122 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution
on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 26.

to his or her integral development. It has
also to do with the overall welfare of society and
the development of a variety of intermediate
groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity.
Outstanding among those groups is the family,
as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common
good calls for social peace, the stability and security
provided by a certain order which cannot be
achieved without particular concern for distributive
justice; whenever this is violated, violence
always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state
in particular, are obliged to defend and promote
the common good.

158. In the present condition of global society,
where injustices abound and growing numbers
of people are deprived of basic human
rights and considered expendable, the principle
of the common good immediately becomes,
logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity
and a preferential option for the poorest of our
brothers and sisters. This option entails recognizing
the implications of the universal destination
of the world’s goods, but, as I mentioned in
the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium,123 it
demands before all else an appreciation of the
immense dignity of the poor in the light of our
deepest convictions as believers. We need only
look around us to see that, today, this option is in
fact an ethical imperative essential for effectively
attaining the common good.

123 Cf. Nos. 186-201: AAS 105 (2013), 1098-1105.
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