Being authentically Catholic can be complicated

keeprightwrongThe Catholic vision of life permeates everything. Thus, it shapes the way I view sexuality – as a great gift from God but also with certain boundaries and limits – but also the way I view how we should build our towns and cities and care for the environment, raise our animals, cultivate our food. The Catholic principle of subsidiarity – mentioned earlier – causes me to be distrustful of big government – where it isn’t warranted – but also of big corporations.

None of this fits into our neat political categories. And it leads to quite a bit of misunderstanding from those on the outside.

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Chicago experience shows that closely watching groups which take CCHD money gets good results

When a statewide immigrant-rights coalition endorsed same-sex marriage this past spring, 11 groups were given a stark choice by a Roman Catholic anti-poverty program: Leave the coalition, or lose their Catholic funding.

Eight of the groups decided to stick with the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights. Another group broke with both. All told, the nine groups gave up grants totaling nearly $300,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development…

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Editor’s note: The opportunity for corruption and scandal in these types of (CCHD) endeavors is so huge, it’s time the Catholic Church got out of this business, entirely. Has no one in the Catholic Church heard of the principle of subsidiarity? Let the parishes do these things, in their own neighborhoods – and let the local bishop remain responsible for seeing to it that the parish operates according to appropriate, authenticly Catholic standards and principles. If that fails, people ought to simply quit giving them money, at all!

Here’s how the little known and often ignored Catholic principle of subsidiarity works – and why it’s so important in today’s world.

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by Doug Lawrence

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

From the Catechism:

Consult section 1878 – 1896

IN BRIEF

1890 There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men ought to establish among themselves.

1891 The human person needs life in society in order to develop in accordance with his nature. Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man.

1892 “The human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject, and the object of every social organization” (GS 25 § 1).

1893 Widespread participation in voluntary associations and institutions is to be encouraged.

1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.

1895 Society ought to promote the exercise of virtue, not obstruct it. It should be animated by a just hierarchy of values.

1896 Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is necessary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel (cf. CA 3, 5).

Editor’s note: If everybody understands their own order (mission) in life, along with their rights, responsibilities and their own particular vocation and talents under God … then … acting with charity (love) … for the common good … every part of society … beginning with the individual and the family … illuminated by the Gospel and suitably empowered by God’s grace … might reach its’ true potential … according to the dignity of the human person, who is created for good, in the image and likeness of God.

Evil doers, deniers, exploiters, usurpers and shirkers introduce deadly weaknesses and harmful anomalies into society, resulting in various forms of immorality, human suffering and social injustice.

The church and its’ members are called to help remedy these ills by means of authentic Gospel values … primarily charity and truth … embodying a genuine respect and personal concern for the fundamental rights and essential needs of every human person.

This is to be considered a direct and personal responsibility … one child of God helping another … and whenever possible … such duties should not be entrusted to third parties, government bureaucracies, or other far-flung, impersonal organizations.

In short: There’s always plenty of good, charitable work to be done, one-on-one, right in your own back yard. Relying solely on government and/or other third parties to accomplish this great and important work often deprives both the donor and the recipient of the corresponding spiritual and corporal rewards. This, along with the distinct absence of any real personal connection, results in significant losses to society, at virtually every level.

While he still walked the earth, Jesus Christ never asked anyone how much money they gave to some nameless, faceless, charity. He said this:

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.

Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee?

And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.  (Matthew 25:31-40)

Occasional, impersonal actions, accomplished at substantial distance are better than nothing, but they simply do not carry the same “weight” as personal acts of charity and kindness … one child of God to another … for either the donor or the recipient. Today’s world is a far colder, darker and scarier place, as a result.

Related reading:

RERUM NOVARUM – ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII
ON CAPITAL AND LABOR
 

CENTESIMUS ANNUS – ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
ON THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF RERUM NOVARUM

CARITAS IN VERITATE –  ENCYCLICAL OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
THE PROCLAMATION OF TRUTH AND LOVE IN SOCIETY

MSNBC, Barack Obama and the Teacher’s Unions think you’re too stupid to raise your own children, so they’re planning to take over.

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“…The idea behind this is going to be so appealing to so many people.  So many people are going to say, ‘I love that.’  Because I’m freaked out.  I don’t know what to do with my kids…  They’re unruly.  They’re whatever.  I don’t know what to do. And so the State will relieve you of that.

And I think that there’s a good 20 to 30% of America, maybe even higher now, I’m not sure, [that] will gladly have the State take that over so they don’t have to worry about it.  Yet another one of your responsibilities taken from you — I’m sorry. Another one of your responsibilities that you will gladly hand over because you don’t know what to do.  And so they will do it for you: Don’t worry! We’ll raise your kids.  We’ll train your kids.  We’ll educate your kids because it’s working out so well…  [Emphasis added]

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From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1881 Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but “the human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.”4

1882 Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged “on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs.”5 This “socialization” also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights.6

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”7

1884 God has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

So Just Where is that Epistle to the Children?

When the apostles started out, they knew they had work to do. The whole world needed conversion. Everyone was pagan. That is, the world looked very much like it does today. The apostolic approach to the problem differed from ours.

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Peter, for instance, did not set up a single parochial school. Luke did not write a children’s gospel. Not one of Paul’s epistles were decorated with yellow duckies. In short, according to the Scriptures and Church history, the apostles didn’t bother teaching children the Faith. They taught only the adults. Why?

Because the apostles understood the principle of subsidiarity. Pope Pius XI in his 1931 encyclicalQuadragesimo Anno described the principle succinctly: “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.”

The apostles knew they could not replace parents. Through the sacrament of marriage, God endows parents with the ability to teach their own children about Him. The apostles only needed to teach the parents the Faith, it was the parents’ responsibility to teach their own children. So, what has changed in the last two millenia? The answer to that is simple. Nothing.

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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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The Catholic Social Principle of Subsidiarity

One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.

This is why Pope John Paul II took the “social assistance state” to task in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. The Pontiff wrote that the Welfare State was contradicting the principle of subsidiarity by intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility. This “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”

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Introduction to Catholic social teaching, Rev. Raymond de Souza

by Chris Armstrong

…After the war, there was a human rights revolution in the thinking of the church. Facing the horrors of totalitarianism, there was a shift in emphasis: defense of human person, dignity, rights was essential. Universal declaration of human rights made after war. State no longer as in Aquinas’s time, a sacral actor: a thing thought of as exercising benign influence, but the source of evil, malign forces. Emphasized in documents of the 1960s: Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, Vat II emphasized religious liberty—a contested concept! Right to worship God freely! 1965 Dignitatis Humanae Personae.

Then toward end of 60s, shift to another problem that emerged: world that seemed to have prosperous, advancing societies, and those left behind with nothing. 1967, Paul VI, looked at question of income and equality. Not everyone sharing in fruits and goods of earth: focus on development, redistribution of wealth.

Then key figure, JP II, in social teaching of Catholicism: 27 year papacy. And lived in totalitarian world—came out of that. Three encyclicals: first: defense of right of workers, similar to that of Leo XIII. More deeply into anthropology of work: man’s work shapes him. Attacked communism not so much on loss of liberties, but mistakes about work: work is to be controlled by state to liberate man. NO man liberates through work, broadly speaking. Fundamental part of man’s liberty is exercised in his work, understood in broadest sense. Work is an expression of liberty. We use our intelligence in our work, gift of God. Our creativity is being applied, which is in the image of God.

Then a few  years later, the “Concern for the things of the social order” encyclical: Right to economic initiative. Sollicitudo rei socialis, 1987. Liberty not just in political, cultural, religious spheres. Also right to economic initiative—a liberty proper to man in his economic work, which should not be stifled by state. That expression is new. The idea goes back a long time. And the idea of entrepreneurship (Acton involved in this) affirmed for the first time here too.

Then Centesimus Annus, 1991, defense of free economy, as he calls it. Economic liberty exercised with others: if you mean this by capitalism, then that is good. But if you separate economic liberty from all other liberties—freedom to exploit—then that is not a Christian vision.

Wrapping up: that’s where things stood. Enter Benedict XVI, 2005. Not a lawyer like Pius XI, Leo XIII, not a historian like ____, not a diplomat like _____, not a philosopher like JPII, but a gifted theologian. That’s the exception. That’s unusual. Maybe never in history of church is the successor of Peter also the most accomplished theologian alive. He starts with a theological point on social teaching: the basic reality that ought to characterize our social relations is charity. Usually Catholic social teaching had started with justice. Ubi caritas, not ubi justitio. Where there is charity, there is God. Not where there is justice.

This is a challenge, therefore. For Christians, he says, we must start with charity. We wouldn’t disagree, but it’s a challenge to the way things has been done….

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Liberals and progressives at USCCB have exchanged the Catholic principle of subsidiarity for socialist stateism

For anyone who needs a reminder of what this principle (of subsidiarity) means, here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (CCC 1883):

Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good’.

It’s important to note that subsidiarity is not an “anti-government” or “anti-state” principle. Indeed it affirms that there is a role for government because (1) there are some things that only governments can and should do and (2) sometimes the state does need to intervene when other communities are unable to cope temporarily with their particular responsibilities. Nor, it should be added, does subsidiarity always translate into the very same policy-positions, precisely because some elements of the common good are in a constant state of flux.

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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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POPE AND OBAMA’S VIEWS CONVERGING?

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July 9, 2009

POPE AND OBAMA’S VIEWS CONVERGING?

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on reports that the pope’s new encyclical, Charity in Truth, places the Holy Father to the left of President Barack Obama on some issues:

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good advises Catholics to “Suggest to your pastor that he give a homily highlighting the Pope’s reflections on social justice and the common good.” Notice what was excluded: the pope’s thoughts on the sanctity of human life, bioethics, the indiscriminate acceptance of all lifestyles, sexuality as a form of entertainment, the role of religion in the public square, etc. It is hardly surprising that left-wing Catholics do not want to highlight these issues, but the ironies run even deeper.

In his encyclical, the pope says that “respect for life” [his italics] is “an aspect which has acquired increasing prominence in recent time, obliging us to broaden our concept of poverty….” Are the pope’s new fans prepared to think of abortion as a poverty issue?

The best way to service the poor, according to the pope, is not to create bureaucratic monstrosities that cripple the dignity of the indigent. “By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, [the principle of] subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.” Similarly, the pope admonishes us not to promote “paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.” In other words, the tried and failed, dependency-inducing welfare programs that mark the social policy prescriptions of the poverty industry are seen by the pope as a disaster. Not exactly what those who work for HHS want to hear.

Finally, when the pope slams greed and criticizes a market economy shorn of moral principles, he is hardly upsetting most of those who champion the rights of the unborn. But some stereotypes are hard to break.