The Dignity of the Human Person is the foundation for a moral society. Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent persons are never morally acceptable, at any stage or condition. Pope Francis has said, “if we understand the human person as the “temple of the Holy Spirit”-the living house of God-then [racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care] fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation.”
Subsidiarity tells us the human person is sacred and also social. Full human development takes place within relationships. The family is the first and fundamental unit of society and is a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Respect for the family should be reflected in every policy and program. Every person and association has a right and a duty to participate actively in shaping society. Subsidiarity reminds us that human needs are best served by smaller or local institutions. Larger institutions should not overwhelm or interfere, yet, have essential responsibilities when local institutions cannot adequately meet those needs.
The Common Good is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” It requires that human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. We must respect the dignity of work and protect the rights of workers. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a way to participate in God’s creation. We also have a duty to care for our common home.
Solidarity means we are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. Pope Benedict XVI has taught that “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”