Thursday, August 18, 2011

Subsidiarity and Catholic Social Teaching

With Federalized Health Care being a continued hot topic, many are confused about what the Catholic faith has to say regarding this and other government involvement in our lives.  Even when we set aside the overarching issue of Respect for all Human Life, another large principle is violated by our Government expanding into managing our Health Care.  That issue is “subsidiarity”.  In #1883-1884 the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains subsidiarity in the following way:

“…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.”
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.”

Subsidiarity teaches us that all functions, from health care, to industry to education should be performed at the “most local” level possible to avoid interfering with each individual’s God given free will and to preserve each individual’s dignity.  In the end, violating subsidiarity will lead to violating the sanctity of each Human Life.  When the society as a whole is valued at the expense of the rights of the individual, individual humans become dispensable.  Our bishops clearly spoke out against this double-edged danger prior to the Health Care Law’s passage.  We thank them and pray for their continued fortitude in standing up for the Truth of Jesus’ teachings on the value of each of our lives.  We also thank and pray for all of the Catholic doctors, nurses and staff who have historically brought so much health care and blessing to our nation, and who will continue to do so as long as they are able. 

From “God Is Love” n. 29, Pope Benedict XVI

The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. 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.

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