Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Subsidiarity begins with the recognition that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says - Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative (1883).

Because of the ongoing furor about who caused the holiday traffic jams in northern New Jersey, much of what Gov. Christie has done well as governor has been forgotten. But, as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has distinguished himself in two ways as a Catholic politician. Not only is he pro-life, but he is aggressively pursuing a set of policies grounded in the principle of subsidiarity.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: subsidiarity, solidarity, government, social doctrine, Chris Christie, Culture, Deal W. Hudson



WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - Because of the ongoing furor about who caused the holiday traffic jams in northern New Jersey, much of what Gov. Christie has done well as governor has been forgotten.

But, as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has distinguished himself in two ways as a Catholic politician. Not only is he pro-life, but he is aggressively pursuing a set of policies grounded in the principle of subsidiarity.

At a time when most prominent Catholic politicians, such as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, have advocated federal government solutions to problems like health care, Gov. Christie led in the opposite direction in 2010 by releasing a New Jersey Privatization Task Force Report.

In the 57-page report, the Task Force proposes privatizing the state's motor vehicle inspections, housing construction inspections, turnpike toll booths, state parks, psychiatric hospitals, as well as contracting for highway maintenance work, and outsourcing workers' compensation claims and all pension, payroll, and benefit payment systems.

These recommendations, according to Christie, have saved New Jersey taxpayers over $200 million a year.

Next to the humanity of the unborn life, the principle of subsidiarity is the tenet of the Church's social teaching most ignored by Catholic politicians.  However, unlike the 6th commandment - "thou shall not kill" - subsidiarity must be applied prudentially. The principle itself is simple, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a com-munity 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. (CCC #1883)

Indeed, the Catechism is unambiguous in its claim that Catholics should uphold subsidiarity to offset one of the dangers of socialization, i.e., an "excessive intervention by the State" threatening "personal freedom and initiative" (CCC#1882-1883).

Christie has also sought to keep the burden of funding government from growing any further - he has proposed a constitutional amendment capping property tax increases at 2.5 percent above the prior year's receipts. Christie explains, "That's 2.5 percent growth in total for everything - municipal tax, county tax, and school tax. There is only one exception to this cap - to pay required debt service."

The New Jersey governor's further reliance on subsidiarity can be found in his 2010 speech supporting "parental choice" in education at American Federation of Children's National Policy Summit Dinner in Washington, DC. Legislation has already been introduced that would provide vouchers to students at "chronically failing schools," like the ones in Newark that Christie described as "absolutely disgraceful."

There were doubts raised during the campaign about Christie's pro-life commitment, but those credentials were solidified by his eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood from the 2011 New Jersey budget. State Democrats are already pushing to restore the more than $7 million in funding despite an $11 billion dollar deficit next year (the state has been on the verge of bankruptcy).

It's often said that some Catholic commentators focus too much on life and marriage issues, relegating prudential matters too far into the background. Gov. Christie's performance provides an opportunity to reflect on the longer view of a Catholic in politics, as well as a good reason not to count Christie out for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Gov. Christie represents a pro-life Catholic politician drawing upon the principle of subsidiarity to make budgetary and policy choices that look to the private sector, not the federal government, for solutions to pressing problems.

Those Catholic members of Congress, well over a majority of them, who supported the President in his passage of Obamacare, the 2010 Patient and Affordable Care Act, however, ignored the principle of subsidiarity, and now that the sign-up "deadline" has passed, the insurance debacle is a matter of public record.

I think of what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his eloquent passage about subsidiarity in his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

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.

The Holy Father here articulates precisely the fear among many Americans fostered by the new health-care legislation in 2010; fears now becoming a reality as reports come in daily about the impossibility of joining online and the dramatic rise of individual, family, and business health insurance.  Any solution to the problems in our nation's health-care system that eliminates personal responsibility and participation is the opposite of what subsidiarity demands, and that solution is destined for failure.

Human well-being, as taught in the Catholic tradition, is always a product of action, of an individual's active participation in the acquiring of the basic goods necessary to life. Subsidiarity begins with the recognition that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative" (1883).

One final point: Some commenters have muddied the waters by comparing the Church's teaching on subsidiarity to the non-negotiable moral teachings on abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage, implying that Catholics need not always add subsidiarity to their judgments about foreign policy.

It's true that the principle of subsidiarity is not a moral act, and thus is not comparable to an act like abortion. But it should never be ignored as a way of viewing the relationship between individual well-being and the various levels of institutions and governments that exert influence and authority over our thoughts and actions. Gov. Christie's success, due to employing subsidiarity in contrast to the massive failure of Obamacare due to its rejection of subsidiarity, proves once again the wisdom of Catholic social teaching.

If subsidiarity is forgotten, if individual liberty and responsibility are not protected, then tyranny is inevitable; and with tyranny will come heinous moral crimes as well. Subsidiarity acts as a kind of nonstop watchman of, and advocate for, human freedom.

Thus, to ignore the Church's principle of subsidiarity is no moral crime per se, but it encourages habits of dependency and the avoidance of responsibility that undermine human dignity.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Hillary Clinton is a FELON - New email dump contains 150 CLASSIFIED emails Watch

Image of Hillary's emails reveal she is surrounded by sycophants and that the State Department techs had no idea she was using a private server, which is against the law.

By David Drudge, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The State Department released a large batch of Clinton emails on Monday, with another 7,000 pages released to the media. Classified information has been redacted. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The State Department released 7,000 new Hillary Clinton emails to the ... continue reading


Are the Clintons mass murders? Death of British spy who hacked them raises old questions about the Clinton thuggery machine Watch

Image of They may be the most evil family in modern American politics.

By David Drudge, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Clinton death toll is simply astounding. Approximately 100 people, directly associated with the Clinton family, have died under unnatural and mysterious circumstances since the early 1990s. It is considered possible that the Clinton family chooses to deal with ... continue reading


Obama's Clean Water Act blocked hours before taking effect Watch

Image of Obama's water pollution rule was blocked by a federal judge a few hours before its execution.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A North Dakota federal judge blocked the Obama Administration's controversial water pollution rule just hours before taking effect. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota discovered ... continue reading


Clinton compares Republicans to terrorists: Receives unsurprising backlash Watch

Image of

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton compares conservative views on abortion and reproductive rights to terrorist groups. Republicans demand an apology while Republican and Democrat candidates agree Clinton's campaign is failing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Hillary Clinton gave a ... continue reading


'The whole Bible is incredible': Donald trump ridiculed for not naming favorite Bible verse Watch

Image of Donald Trump claims the Bible is his favorite book.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During an interview with Bloomberg's Mark Halerin and John Heilemann, presidential candidate, Donald Trump was asked to name his favorite Bible verse but refused to name one. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seven minutes into the interview, Halerin told Trump, "You ... continue reading


EVERY 93 SECONDS: Foreign children born on U.S. soil Watch

Image of Children of immigrants born on United States soil appear to be wearing out their welcome, according to recent polls.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Children of immigrants born on United States soil appear to be wearing out their welcome, according to recent polls. It is estimated that a child of illegal immigrants is born every 93 seconds in the U.S. According to a 2011 Rasmussen Poll, only 28 percent of likely ... continue reading


Univision anchor Jorge Ramos EJECTED from Donald Trump press conference Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Go back to Univision," GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump told Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos at an Iowa press conference. Well regarded by his peers, there was no gravitas afforded Ramos at the event, as a security guard escorted him away. The occasion ... continue reading


The do-nothing Boehner is not only stupid, he's pro-Planned Parenthood - revealed by his incestuous political relationship with an abortion-affiliated adviser Watch

Image of Boehner makes a lot of money off Obamacare and other investments in the medical industry, thanks to his privileged position in Congress.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Charlotte Ivancic, Health Policy Advisor to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), is leaving his office to work for a lobbying firm. Ivancic is the older sister of Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress. Dyer was caught discussing the sale of aborted children on video by the ... continue reading


When it comes to illegal immigration, EVERYBODY WINS! Except you, of course you lose Watch

Image of Attitude is everything.

By David Drudge, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans tend to agree we need some kind of immigration reform, but they can't agree on how bad the problem is, or even what that reform should look like. Here is a story that will shock you into thinking harder about the problem. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


It has happened before: President Bill Clinton PARDONED former CIA Director for home computer Classified Document mess Watch

Image of In truth, Hillary Clinton's current controversy over keeping sensitive, classified information on home computers had its basis in which her husband, former president Bill Clinton pardoned former CIA director John Deutch . who likewise kept classified material on unsecured, private computers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In truth, Hillary Clinton's current controversy over keeping sensitive, classified information on home computers had its basis in which her husband, former president Bill Clinton pardoned former CIA director John Deutch who likewise kept classified material on ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skšnninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter