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

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caritus In Veritate

For those who may strain with the logic or question the sincerity of the header of my blog I present the initial populous reaction to the Pope’s new encyclical---Caritus In Veritate.

My May 31, 2009 blog entry defined the Church’s social doctrine into four parts: common good, human dignity, solidarity, and subsidiarity.

Almost exclusively the issue of subsidiarity is missing from the “common rhetoric” when discussions of this new encyclical are presented.

In this new encyclical Pope Benedict mentions the terms common good 20 times, solidarity 40 times, dignity 15 times, and subsidiarity 12 times.

“57…A particular manifestation of charity and a guiding criterion for fraternal cooperation between believers and non-believers is undoubtedly the principle of subsidiarity,137 an expression of inalienable human freedom. Subsidiarity is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility. Subsidiarity respects personal dignity by recognizing in the person a subject who is always capable of giving something to others. By considering reciprocity as the heart of what it is to be a human being, subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state. It is able to take account both of the manifold articulation of plans and therefore of the plurality of subjects as well as the coordination of those plans. Hence the principle of subsidiarity is particularly well-suited to managing globalization and directing it towards authentic human development. In order not to produce a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature, the governance of globalization must be marked by subsidiarity, articulated into several layers and involving different levels that can work together. Globalization certainly requires authority, insofar as it poses the problem of a global common good that needs to be pursued. This authority, however, must be organized in a subsidiary and stratified way,138 if it is not to infringe upon freedom and if it is to yield effective results in practice.”

Caritus In Veritate