There are differing opinions as to what exactly the foundation of our social order is or should be. Because this is a question that bears strongly upon human morality the Catholic Church has had quite a bit to say about “the social question” in the last century or more. Not too long ago the Magisterium produced a compendium of the Church’s social teaching. It is fascinating reading if only because one so rarely comes across social teaching these days which is not cribbed from the Communist Party or the Libertarians. But there are other approaches and answers to these questions, and the Compendium puts them in one handy volume. I hope to write several posts on this topic because I believe it is an important one, and because the Church’s teaching is often misunderstood or misrepresented.
A good place to start may be here:
The commandment of mutual love, which represents the law of life for God’s people, must inspire, purify and elevate all human relationships in society and in politics. (§33)
The second greatest commandment, Jesus says, is to love my neighbor as myself. That being the case, what the Compendium says here in §33 makes eminent sense. Love must inform and undergird our relationships and our institutions. This same idea finds expression in the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And again, this only makes sense. What we do must be ordered not merely to our own personal advantage but also for the common good: the good of families, communities, clubs, businesses, states, and even the whole of humanity. See here for more. We will come across this same theme repeatedly in the Compendium. It is a mistake to make either individualism or any form of socialism the summum bonum for the ordering of our civilization. There is a middle ground, and hopefully we shall see that spelled out in upcoming posts.