Subsidiarity and the Social Doctrine

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]." Margaret Thatcher

“Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.” G. K. Chesterton

Subsidiarity in the Gospels

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A study guide for Subsidiarity in the 1992 Catechism.

The Catholic Catechism has four parts:
  1. The Profession of Faith
  2. The Church Liturgy and the Seven Sacraments
  3. Life in Christ
  4. Christian Prayer
Subsidiarity applies almost exclusively to the third part---Life in Christ. The third part divides between the sections of the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.
“The social doctrine of the Church developed in the nineteenth century when the Gospel encountered modern industrial society with its new structures for the production of consumer goods.” CCC 2421
The definition of Subsidiarity and the human vocation is found in the first section of part three along with the Beatitudes. The second section in the Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal, we find the practical applications of the social doctrine teachings. And finally in the Fourth Commandment, honor your father and mother, under The Family and Society title; we define the family as the “original cell of social life."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines how the state should honor, assist, and protect the foundation of society, the family, under the exclusive doctrine of Subsidiarity.

Simply put, government that governs least governs best with as much local control as possible.

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." --James Madison, Federalist No. 45. Chief author of both the Federalist papers and the U.S. Constitution.


Part Three, Life in Christ
Article 1
The Person and Society
I. The Person and Society
1878 All men in fraternity are called to God
1879 Man was designed to be social
1880 Society is a group of persons
1881 Human persons define a community
1882 Societies begin with the family and go on to include international levels
1883 Definition of Subsidiarity
1884 God has granted free will
1885 True social order rejects collectivism
1886 Society and the human vocation
1887 Means and ends
1888 Spiritual, morality, and conversion
1889 Charity and grace

Part Three, Life in Christ
Article 4
Fouth Commandment
II. The Family and Society
2207 Original cell of social life---the family
2208 Family needs/requirements
2209 The family must be helped and defended
2210 Importance of family for society well being
2211 Political community is responsible to honor the family
2212 The fourth commandment illuminates other relationships
2213 Communities are made up of persons
IV. The Family and the Kingdom
2232 God’s kingdom is everyone’s ends
2233 Be a disciple
V. The Authorities in civil society
2234 Honor society’s authorities
Duties of Civil Authorities
2235 Authorities serve persons and natural law
2236 Authorities’ are to facilitate freedom and responsibility of all
2237 Authorities are to respect the individual
The Duties of Citizens
2238 Servants of God
2239 The spirit of a good society
2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility
2241 Obligations of prosperous nations
2242 When citizens are not obliged to follow directives
2243 Armed resistance to oppression
The political community and the Church
2244 Political hierarchy of values
2245 Church and state
2246 Church relationship to politics

Part Three, Life in Christ
Article 7
The Seventh Commandment
III. The Social Doctrine of the Church

2419 Proclaiming the Gospel
2420 Church makes moral judgments
2421 History of the social doctrine
2422 Composition of the social doctrine
2423 Social teaching principles
2424 Profit as the exclusive norm
2425 Church rejects certain governments
IV. Economic and Social Justice
2426 Economic activity
2427 Human work
2428 Primordial value
2429 Economic initiative
2430 Rights and duties of social partners
2431 The responsibility of the state
2432 The responsibility of private business
2433 Access to employment
2434 Just wage
2435 Recourse to strike
2436 Social security and unemployment
V. Justice and Solidarity among Nations
2437 Inequality of resources
2438 Solidarity of Nations is required
2439 Rich nations have moral responsibility
2440 Direct aid and reform
2441 God, self-awareness, full development
2442 Pastors and politics

"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." --James Madison

Questions for Understanding

1.) What is the end and purpose of individuals, societies, and nations? CCC 1878, 2232, 2233, 2238

2.) What does history consistently show when ideology trumps God’s purpose? CCC 2244

3.) What defines community? CCC 1881

4.) What is the basic building block of society? CCC 2207

5.) Scanning thru the preceding Catechism outline what common themes can be derived? CCC 1878, 2207, 2232, 2419, 2441

6.) What are the responsibilities of citizenship? CCC 1878, 1889, 2208, 2234, 2239, 2242, 2243

Questions for Application

In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unamimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America."...Governments are instituted among Men, driving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and institute new Government..."

1.) Does this preceding statement uphold Subsidiarity principles? Why or why not?

2.) The first Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, limits the federal government by establishing basic individual rights while limiting the power of the federal authorities. Are there any amendments contrary to Subsidiarity principles? How do any uphold Subsidiarity principles?

3.) What subsidiarity arguments can be made to justify nazism, communism, fascism, imperialism, socialism, capitalism or any other ism?

4.) CCC 2211 lists the responsibilities of a government to its citizens. What form of government that exists or has existed before best fits these requirements?

5.) Google “european union constitution does not acknowledge god” on the internet. How does this debate reconcile with Church teaching?

"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained." --George Washington

CCC 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 the internal life of 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.
Borders, Language, Culture, and evil ideologies
Pope Benidict XVI

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