One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organisation which can be done by a smaller and simpler organisation. Subsidiarity, understood in this sense, is opposed to forms of centralisation, bureaucratisation, and welfare assistance that deprive citizens of their own responsibility toward themselves, their families, and their societies. Rather, subsidiarity supports personal empowerment and responsibility as much as a proper balance between the public and private spheres, with the resulting recognition of the common good that is inherently achieved through the spontaneous interactions between free and responsible people. Hence, the subsidiarity principle is a bulwark of freedom and it conflicts with all forms of collectivism. It sets the limits for state action.

About the Author

LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M. cum laude, Ph.D. (Mon.); Professor of Law, Sheridan College (Perth, WA); Professor of Law (adjunct), The University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney campus); President, Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA); former Law Reform Commissioner, Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017).