Sunday, September 27, 2009

Health care reform: Archbishop Nienstedt weighs in on the importance of the principle of subsidiarity

One of my longstanding frustrations with progressive Catholics is their obsessive desire to advance Christian ends by the means of big government.

The inefficiencies of government ensure that such an approach will waste large amounts of taxpayer money and ultimately fail those who it is intended to help.

More importantly, a big-government approach usurps our role as Christians and makes us "soft" by taking responsibility for the poor and disadvantaged away from the individual and from local community where it properly belongs.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt (St. Paul and Minneapolis) has now joined several other bishops who, in commenting on the national health care debate, have spoken out in defense of the principle of subsidiarity:
...Reading the commentaries of my brother bishops, I realized that I did not mention another essential Catholic principle that should have been included in my last column: subsidiarity, which posits that health care ought to be determined, administered and coordinated at the lowest level of society whenever possible.

In other words, those intermediary communities and associations that exist between the federal government and the individual must be strengthened and given greater control over policies and practices rather than being given less and less control.

To usurp this “hierarchy of communities” is terribly damaging in the long run, both to society as a whole and the individual citizen (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1883, Compen­dium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 185 ff).

Papal insights

Two quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are instructive in this regard:

Pope John Paul II has written:

“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” (Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus,” No. 48).

Pope Benedict writes:

“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 . . . . In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) — a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human” (Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est,” No. 28).

To neglect the principle of subsidiarity inevitably leads to the excessive centralization of human services, which leads to higher costs, less personal responsibility for the individual and a lower quality of care....Source

(H/T: Catholic Key)

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