The Common Good in Catholic Social Teaching
Having acknowledged that man is social by nature, we can reasonably conclude that all aspects of social life must be related to the common good.
The whole is indeed greater than the part. This is not to be construed as a disavowal of the individual in favor of the collective, but is rather a concern for the community, as a perfect society, that it may serve the needs of each individual, providing the conditions he requires for the full realization of his potential. The individual is not less than the community, but because he requires the community for his development, he depends upon it, and because he depends upon it he has a duty to seek its preservation.
Each man is obligated to show concern for the common good, and to contribute to it as he is able. It would be flatly contradictory to operate on the premise that, although his proper fulfillment is found in society, he ought to consider his actions only in their individual aspect. There is no room in Catholic Social Teaching for the individualist mentality.
It must also be mentioned that the obligation to care for the common good extends not only through space but also through time. There must be justice between generations. The Jeffersonian motto that “the land belongs only to the living” finds no echo in the Church, which demands that our immediate concerns “cannot exclude those who come after us.” The earth “is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next.” Through this principle we are called to practice “intergenerational solidarity.”
 Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, Responsabilidade Solidária pelo Bem Comum (15 September 2003), 20.