Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Principle of Subsidiarity

185. Subsidiarity is among the most constant and characteristic directives of the Church's social doctrine and has been present since the first great social encyclical[395]. It is impossible to promote the dignity of the person without showing concern for the family, groups, associations, local territorial realities; in short, for that aggregate of economic, social, cultural, sports-oriented, recreational, professional and political expressions to which people spontaneously give life and which make it possible for them to achieve effective social growth[396]. This is the realm of civil society, understood as the sum of the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groupings, which are the first relationships to arise and which come about thanks to “the creative subjectivity of the citizen”.-Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
According to the Principle of Subsidiarity acts of charity should originate at the lowest level possible. That is charity is a personal responsibility, not a responsibility of the state.

186. ...“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.
187 ...“By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State 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”-Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

According to Church teaching it is not the business of the state, that is the federal government, to provide for people what they can provide for themselves. The Church does recognize that there are certain circumstances where civil society is incapable of achieving social balance or equality.
188. Various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions[401]. One may think, for example, of situations in which it is necessary for the State itself to stimulate the economy because it is impossible for civil society to support initiatives on its own. One may also envision the reality of serious social imbalance or injustice where only the intervention of the public authority can create conditions of greater equality, justice and peace. In light of the principle of subsidiarity, however, this institutional substitution must not continue any longer than is absolutely necessary, since justification for such intervention is found only in the exceptional nature of the situation.-Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

In the present age, in the United States, a country to which millions of immigrants stream every year because it is a land of opportunity it is hard to believe that such an exceptional situation exists. Such intervention by the state might be necessary in a society in which there exists a frozen class structure or failure of the rule of law at the local level. Such conditions do not exists in the U.S.

No comments: