Reflecting on the Meaning of Solidarity

Celebrating Mass on Mission

This month, our staff team at Solidarity Bridge has been making time to reflect more deeply on the meaning of solidarity. Today we invite you to join us in developing a deeper understanding of this key tenet of Catholic Social Teaching. We encourage you to read these seven quotes with us, using the questions below to guide your reflection.

  1. What struck you as a new way of thinking about solidarity?
  2. What common themes emerge from these quotes?
  3. What particularly resonates with how you understand the mission of Solidarity Bridge?
  4. What invites you to think about our mission in new/different ways?
  5. In the comments below, share with us your favorite quote or understanding of the meaning of solidarity.


[Solidarity] is a type of communion in which deep connection with others is forged in such a way that their sufferings and joys become part of one’s own personal concern and spur to transformative action.  It entails a movement out of selfish seclusion and into relationship where people bear one another up in mutual giving and receiving. 
-    Elizabeth Johnson

Solidarity is not a matter of agreeing with, of supporting, liking, or being inspired by the cause of a group of people. Though all of these might be part of solidarity, solidarity goes beyond all of them. Solidarity has to do with understanding the interconnections that exist between oppression and privilege, between the rich and the poor, the oppressed and the oppressors. 
-    Ada Maria Isasi Diaz

[Solidarity] is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.
-    Pope John Paul II

The word solidarity is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by the few. 
-    Pope Francis

Solidarity is a spontaneous reaction by those who recognize that the social function of property and the universal destination of goods are realities which come before private property. The private ownership of goods is justified by the need to protect and increase them, so that they can better serve the common good; for this reason, solidarity must be lived as the decision to restore to the poor what belongs to them. These convictions and habits of solidarity, when they are put into practice, open the way to other structural transformations and make them possible. Changing structures without generating new convictions and attitudes will only ensure that those same structures will become, sooner or later, corrupt, oppressive and ineffectual.
-    Pope Francis

Common interests – the view of the fate of our world that grounds solidarity – are what move Christian behavior form the one-sidedness of charity to mutuality. Common interests and mutuality can make effective in our lives the ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ that is central to the gospel message of love and justice…The task of those of us interested in making solidarity a reality is to bring about a mutuality among peoples that will make clear such common interests.
 - Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz

[Through solidarity], I discovered that you do not go to the margins to rescue anyone. But if we go there, everyone finds rescue.
-    Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J.