Knute Rockne, Catholic convert, on the 80th anniversary of his death

If Rockne was merely the greatest coach who ever lived (his 13-season record of 105 wins, 12 loses and 5 ties, still remains the best ever in college football) his death at forty-three would not have brought such grief, nor would his legend have been so lasting. Son of Norwegian immigrants, Rock came to America at the age of five after his father’s two-wheel carry-all buggy won an award at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Knute learned the game of football in the rough and tumble Windy City neighborhood of Logan Square, under the watchful eye of (I’m not kidding!) “an Irish copper named O’Goole.” Knute’s dad Lars wasn’t keen on college, so Rockne earned his way to Notre Dame (then cheaper than the University of Illinois!) by working in the mail room for five years before entering Our Lady’s University, “the lone Norse Protestant invader of a Catholic stronghold,” a balding broken-nosed freshman, at the age of twenty-two.

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Subsidiarity: the light on the path that our leaders need to follow.

The Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity is precisely what is needed. If a Tea Party Manifesto is created, its cornerstone should be the time-tested Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

In the political context, the principle of subsidiarity states that political decisions and other matters generally should be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Sec. 1882 – 1883) clearly instructs Catholics to look to subsidiarity to protect against excessive intervention by the state which threatens personal freedom and initiative.  This principle safeguards the ideals of limited government and personal freedom and stands squarely opposed to the welfare state’s goals of centralization and bureaucracy.

In the broader social context, subsidiarity stresses the importance of the real common good and the values of family, life, liberty and community.

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