The common good is described in Catholic teaching as the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.

The Christian understanding of the common good emphasises the fact that the fundamental rights of all people must be protected and promoted, while at the same time acknowledging that we are part of a social whole. Hence, individual rights bring with them corresponding responsibilities.

The common good and what is known in Catholic social doctrine as the principle of participation are intricately linked. Civic participation, in its many forms, is a critical dimension of the common good. It is through our participation in society that we contribute to the larger social good. We may do this politically through exercising our vote in elections, or through the paying of taxes in order to provide social services for the less well off, or through our involvement in local community groups, through peaceful protest, or through our participation in various voluntary organisations.