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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

ENVOY INSTITUTE REMARKS, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

"I have three simple points I want to talk about: the nature of the state; the nature of our Christian faith; and the nature of the lay vocation...."

"Christians have always believed that civil authority has a rightful degree of autonomy separate from sacred authority. In Christian thought, believers owe civil rulers their respect and obedience in all things that do not gravely violate the moral law. When Jesus told the Pharisees and Herodians to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar‟s, and to God the things that are God‟s” (see Mt 22:15-21), he was acknowledging that Caesar does have rights.
Of course, he was also saying that Caesar is not a god, and Caesar has no rights over those things which belong to God…. To put it in modern terms: The state is not god. It‟s not immortal. It‟s not infallible. It‟s not even synonymous with civil society, which is much larger, richer and more diverse in its human relationships than any political party or government bureaucracy can ever be. And ultimately, everything important about human life belongs not to Caesar, but to God: our intellect, our talents, our free will; the people we love; the beauty and goodness in the world; our soul, our moral integrity, our hope for eternal life. These are the things that matter. These are the things worth fighting for. And none of them comes from the state..."

"The Christian vocation to love each other is never simply an emotion, or it isn‟t real. Real love is an act of the will; a sustained choice that proves itself not just by what we say or feel, but by what we do for the good of others.
Working to defend the sanctity of human persons and the dignity of the human family is an obligation of Christian love. Therefore, the Church can‟t be silent in public life and be faithful to Jesus Christ at the same time. She needs to be a mustard seed in the public square, transforming every fiber of a nation‟s social, economic and political life..."

"There may be many times when a bishop or group of bishops needs to speak out publicly about the moral consequences of a public issue. But the main form of Catholic leadership in wider society – in the nation‟s political, economic and social life – needs to be done by you, the Catholic lay faithful. The key word of course is faithful. We need to form Catholic lay leaders who know and love the teachings of the Church, and then embody those teachings faithfully in their private lives and in their public service. But once those lay leaders exist,
clergy cannot and should not interfere with the leadership that rightly belongs, by baptism, to their vocation as lay apostles..."

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