(Catholic Culture) - Drawing upon Catholic teaching on subsidiarity, an increasing number of US bishops are criticizing the concept of government-run health care. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo has criticized the view that “the national government is the sole instrument of the common good.” Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford adds:THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The principle of Subsidiarity has been called the "hinge" upon which all of Catholic Social Justice turns. Without Subsidiarity, there simply can be no Social Justice - only socialism.As Catholic people, however, we are not allowed to wash our hands of it and to let things shake out as the federal government would have it. Our more than bicentennial experience with our federal government leads many to the conclusion that our government really does only one thing well: waging war. In every other area of life, when someone says, “I am from the government and I am here to help you,” our survival instinct tells us to run and hide. In the early ’90s when the health care scare was last put upon us, the opposition crowed: “If you like the postal service, you will love national health,” and that still seems to be the feeling of manysource
This seems to be the one thing most Catholics have a difficult time rapping their minds around. In teaching Social Justice, the Church is NOT telling us to turn everything over to the government. The Church is NOT telling us to abrogate our responsibilities to a heartless bureaucracy that is the "cult of the omnipotent state." Catholic Social Justice IS NOT socialism.
When the Church talks about the sanctity of life, the traditional family, solidarity with the poor, a living wage, healthcare for everyone, it is not talking about government handouts, welfare checks and subsidized medicine. That's not Catholic Social Justice. That's voter laziness! And it runs against Catholic Social Justice. The first principle of Catholic Social Justice is the principle of Subsidiarity, the hinge upon which the rest of Catholic Social Justice turns....
Catechism 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 "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."In no circumstance should the community of a higher order (in this case the federal government) interfere in the internal life of the community of a lower order (state government, community governments, churches, hospitals, doctors offices, etc.). Rather, communities of the lower order should be empowered to find solutions from the ground up. For Catholics, the central role of Catholic Social Justice is supposed to be played out in the Church, and not in the government. That means their local churches come first, and it is through these local churches that Catholics are to work toward solutions to their community needs. Granted, there are lots of things higher government entities can do to help, namely by reducing regulations, and permitting more freedom. Sometimes the higher government entities can play a coordination role, to help small communities (who are solving their own problems) work together with other small communities who are likewise working to solve their own problems.
Catechism 1885: The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.
Catechism 1894: In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.
Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church
In the case of healthcare reform, I can personally think of a some examples that would go a long way toward getting more Americans covered by medical insurance....
Of course this isn't going to solve the problems completely, but it would make for a good start, and a step in the right direction. At the local level, churches will have to step up to the plate, creating pools and buying into group medical insurance plans. This gives us more affordable healthcare without taking away our choices or rationing our care. More choice equals more options, and greater options means better Social Justice.
- Loosen regulations on medical insurance companies that would allow them to better market toward individual clients.
- Allow churches, synagogues and mosques to purchase into group medical insurance plans.
- Enact tort reform, to stop frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
- Open the medical insurance market up to interstate and international competition.
- Shorten patent times on life-saving prescription drugs to allow the sale of generics more quickly.
- Open the pharmaceutical market up to international competition.
- Enable tax reform, allowing families more take-home-pay which can be used for medical insurance.
It's important for Catholics to remember that we cannot solve every problem in this life. We can only work toward making things better. Catholics must learn that Catholic Social Justice does not start with the government, but rather with us (individuals, families & churches). We don't do the work of God by abrogating our responsibilities to the government. That's not how it works.