Christian Social Justice Principles

Christian social justice principles are a fundamental part of Catholic social teaching, which has evolved over time and is detailed in the Church’s Manual of Social Teaching. These principles are rooted in the admonition of the Hebrew prophets and are based on Jesus’ life, in which he connected with the poor and oppressed and lived a life of sacrifice and justice, guided by prayer.

Catholic Social Teaching is disseminated through texts published by the Pope and Church synods on social issues. While there have been various formulations of the fundamental principles over the years, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops groups them into seven principles. These principles include human dignity, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, care for God’s creation, the dignity of labor and workforce rights, and rights and responsibilities. Additionally, the teachings emphasize a preferential concern for the poor and disadvantaged.

In this essay, we will explore the principles of subsidiarity and working for the common good, their foundations in religious scriptures and customs, and how these principles relate to the experience of teaching underprivileged and mentally challenged children basketball skills in Perseverance basketball camps with the Palm Beach Gardens Youth Association.

Subsidiarity: Empowering Individuals and Communities

The principle of subsidiarity is a fundamental aspect of Catholic social teaching. It pertains to the appropriate organization of social institutions, allowing individuals and communities to develop independently and collectively. Subsidiarity recognizes the importance of individuals, households, and civil society in carrying out tasks without unnecessary intervention from the state.

According to the principle of subsidiarity, government involvement should only occur when there is a significant social inequality or injustice that cannot be adequately addressed by individuals and communities alone. The role of the state is to ensure the common good, stepping in when necessary to promote justice and equality.

Subsidiarity finds its roots in various religious scriptures and teachings. In the book of Micah, the prophet emphasizes three fundamental pillars: practicing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. These pillars highlight the importance of both individual and communal responsibility in upholding justice and promoting the well-being of all (“The New Oxford Annotated Bible Quotes by Anonymous,” Micah 6:8).

An example of the application of subsidiarity in the pursuit of social justice is the work of Martin Luther King Jr. He advocated for justice and equality through nonviolent means, challenging unjust laws and systems while upholding the principles of love and kindness (Haughey 167). King’s approach exemplifies the balance between disrupting the status quo for the sake of justice while maintaining a commitment to the rule of love.

In the context of teaching underprivileged and mentally challenged children basketball skills, the principle of subsidiarity can be seen in action. The Palm Beach Gardens Youth Association, through its Perseverance basketball camps, empowers the children and their communities by providing them with skills and opportunities to thrive. The organization operates independently and collaboratively as a civil society, without relying on government support. By fostering self-reliance and communal support, the camps uphold the principle of subsidiarity in their efforts to uplift and empower the underprivileged and mentally challenged children.

Working for the Common Good: Human Dignity and Solidarity

Another essential principle of Catholic social teaching is the concept of the common good, which is closely linked to the inherent dignity of every human being. The common good recognizes that all people are created in the likeness of God and possess inherent dignity and value (“The New Oxford Annotated Bible Quotes by Anonymous,” Genesis 1:17). This recognition of human dignity forms the foundation of the Church’s social philosophy.

According to Catholic social teaching, individuals find meaning and significance in their lives through their interactions with others. As social beings, people are called to recognize and uphold the inherent dignity of every individual. This commitment to human dignity necessitates a dedication to promoting the common good.

The common good is not solely concerned with the well-being of individuals but encompasses the flourishing of all aspects of human existence, including familial, communal, financial, and spiritual dimensions. In order to work for the common good, individuals and communities must strive to create conditions that allow for the full development and flourishing of every person.

The teachings of Jesus and the writings of the apostle Paul provide guidance on working for the common good. Jesus emphasized the importance of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, treating others with kindness and compassion (Haughey 96). Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, encouraged believers to live according to the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which include kindness and love (Haughey 96). These teachings underscore the Christian obligation to care for and uplift those who are marginalized and disadvantaged.

In the context of teaching underprivileged and mentally challenged children basketball skills, working for the common good means providing opportunities for these children to experience joy, growth, and inclusion. By engaging with these children during community service hours and teaching them basketball skills, individuals can contribute to their emotional and spiritual well-being. This act of kindness and support uplifts the children and promotes their overall flourishing.

The Perseverance basketball camps organized by the Palm Beach Gardens Youth Association exemplify the commitment to the common good. By providing underprivileged and mentally challenged children with the opportunity to learn basketball skills, the camps foster their development and create a sense of belonging and community. These efforts contribute to the overall well-being of the children and promote the common good within society.


Christian social justice principles, as outlined in Catholic social teaching, provide a framework for addressing modern social realities and promoting justice and equality. These principles are rooted in the recognition of human dignity and the pursuit of the common good, with a particular emphasis on the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

The principles of subsidiarity and working for the common good are integral to understanding and applying Christian social justice principles. Subsidiarity emphasizes the empowerment of individuals and communities, allowing them to address social issues independently while recognizing the role of the state in promoting justice. Working for the common good involves upholding the inherent dignity of every person and creating conditions that allow for the flourishing of individuals and communities.

In the context of teaching underprivileged and mentally challenged children basketball skills, these principles can be seen in action. By empowering these children and providing them with opportunities for growth and inclusion, individuals and organizations contribute to their overall well-being and promote the common good within society.

By embracing Christian social justice principles and applying them in practical ways, we can work towards a more just and equitable society, where the inherent dignity of every individual is recognized and upheld.