good is a
concept which has been one of the cornerstones of social
teaching of the Catholic Church for centuries.
Vatican Council defined the common good as “the sum of
those conditions of social life which allow social groups and
their individual members relatively thorough and easy access
to their own fulfilment” (The Church in the Modern
World # 26). The common good is served, then, when all
people have relatively easy access to what they need to live
a fully human life - that is, to achieve their potential as
human beings. The pursuit of the common good is seen as one
of the roles of government.
in Australian society enjoy this easy access to what they need,
and it should be a matter of pride for us that this is the
case. However, it is self evident that a large minority of
people have no such access. These people are effectively excluded
from full participation in society and from achieving their
potential by, for example, unemployment, poverty, inadequate
housing and a number of other factors.
In the Church’s
social teaching, these excluded and marginalised people are
a central focus, as they were in the life of Jesus. As long
as such disadvantage exists, the common good is diminished.
This focus on the poor and the consequent commitment to take
action to eliminate poverty is often referred to by the Church
as the “option for the poor”. This option is indispensable
if the common good is to be achieved.
In the context
of an election campaign, the common good can serve as a criterion
against which the policies and programs of each political party
can be judged. Does this policy promote the common good? In
other words, is it a step towards ensuring that all people
in society (especially those currently excluded) have easy
access to what they need to live a decent human life?
Australian Catholic Bishops' Statement for the 2004 Election -
Having Faith in our Democracy: Building a Better Australia
Catholic Welfare Australia -
COMMON Wealth Issue Papers
Catholic Social Justice Council - Social Justice in Everyday
Social Teaching - Notable quotations from Catholic Social
Teaching on the topic of the Common Good
Policies Australia - Just the Policies (not
here to register your interest in the campaign
to the Election Campaign main page