The sad State of the Union – 2012

Reflecting now on the Fourth of July 2012, we have to wonder about a regime now manifesting a growing list of abuses to the fundamental nature of human worth. These abuses are put into effect by elected rulers themselves. They are accepted by many citizens who themselves are “democratic” in the classic Greek sense, that in their soul they have little principle of order.

Hence, they have no reason to object to anything on any other basis than that of personal whim or want. The term “unconstitutional” is meaningless. This situation is not a far cry from that list found in the Declaration. In describing these abuses, it read: “He (the King) has made Judges dependent on his Will alone.” “He has refused to assent to Laws.” And “He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution.”

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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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A Guiding Principle to the Debate on Healthcare: The Principle of Subsidiarity

Given the anti-Catholic bias in many circles, I must point out that the Catholic Church has no desire to gain power over the State, or even impose its teachings on those who do not share our Faith. Nevertheless, the Church offers her various social teachings, such as the Principle of Subsidiarity, as guiding principles in order to do Her part to promote reasonable dialogue and to make the Church’s own contribution toward the common goal of a just solution to social issues such as healthcare.

We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est , 28).

The Principle of Subsidiarity, which has been an integral part of Catholic Social teaching for over a century, states that only things that need to be done at the national or “federal” level should be done by a “federal” government; and allows for things that can be done at the local or smaller level to be done at the more local and smaller units of society. Where individuals, intermediary groups, or small private groups of persons can address the particular exigencies and realities of a given situation, it is best to defer to such smaller groups because human beings need some flexibility and autonomy in order to effectively address their particular circumstances.

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