Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

4/3/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

'The threat of terrorism remains high': Senate uses fear to allow FBI free access to all passwords, internet history and email information Watch

Image of Senate bill attempts to allow FBI access to 'electronic communication transaction records' (Stock Photo).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Personal privacy is one of the greatest rights any citizen of the free world enjoys but soon the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have legal access to everything from passwords and personal emails to banking information and search history - all without your ... continue reading


States revolt, 11 sue to block disruptive Obama restroom edict, protect kids Watch

Image of Obama's policy opens restrooms to perverts who want access to victims in restrooms.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Eleven states are challenging the Obama edict that schools should allow kids to use whatever bathroom they choose, regardless of their gender. Obama issued the edict last week as a means of joining the "transgender" bandwagon that is sweeping the nation. Unfortunately, ... continue reading


LOL! Clinton chief upset about what happens when a public servant breaks the law, begs judge to save her from criticism Watch

Image of Cheryl Mills is unhappy that her deposition might become the source of criticism.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff from the State Department, Cheryl Mills, has asked a court to shield her from conservatives who are seeking the transcripts and recordings of her deposition scheduled for Friday. Mills is worried she will be taken out of context ... continue reading


REVEALED: China has an army of paid trolls, guess who else has one? Watch

Image of Don't feed the trolls.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The next time you encounter an internet troll, be warned, he could be getting paid to fan the flames, or to douse your conversation. A new study our of Harvard reveals that China is using an army of 448 million fake troll accounts to influence public opinion. And China ... continue reading


REPORT: Inspector General SLAMS Hillary Clinton for BREAKING LAW, was WARNED by staffer, whom she PUNISHED! Watch

Image of Audit: Hillary Clinton broke the law.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The State Department Inspector General has ruled that Hillary Clinton broke department rules for using a private email server and for deleting emails she sent and received during her tenure. The report was released on Capitol Hill today. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


You won't believe who buys the most weapons from the US! Watch

Image of The United States provides the most weapons to which country (NATO)?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The United States provides 33 percent of the world's arms such as fighter jet aircraft, tanks and more - so which countries are buying? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the number one country purchasing ... continue reading


Obama risking national security to meet political obligation? Watch

Image of Is the Obama administration sacrificing national security in favor of meeting quotas (Reuters)?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With many Senate Democrats calling for a faster processing, the Obama Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) have drastically increased the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


FBI investigating Gov. McAuliffe, Clinton Foundation for Chinese ties Watch

Image of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is under FBI investigation for accepting illegal campaign contributions.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The FBI is investigating Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on the grounds that he accepted illegal campaign contributions. There is overlap between his donors and donors to the Clinton campaign. Investigators have discovered that a Chinese politician made a particularly ... continue reading


American Steel v. China's Production - There is no such thing as free trade Watch

Image of American steel jobs have drastically fallen (iisssc).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As American steel production falters, China has begun efforts to dump its excess steel at slashed prices. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Chuck Schmitt, president of SSAB ... continue reading


'Shame, shame, shame': House Democrats boo Republicans Watch

Image of House Republicans halt the hostile amendment in its tracks (EPA).

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Chaos erupted as the US House of Representatives refused to pass an amendment meant to strip away religious freedom and protections for religious contractors and those who work with the federal government. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When House Democrats ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: He will never leave you
  • Bl. Margaret Pole: Saint of the Day for Saturday, May 28, 2016
  • Daily Readings for Saturday, May 28, 2016
  • Woman diagnosed with 'nightmare bacteria' in US
  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • WARNING: Exorcist claims demon is targeting families

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jude 1:17, 20-25
17 But remember, my dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:27-33
27 They came to Jerusalem again, and as Jesus was walking in the Temple, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 28th, 2016 Image

Bl. Margaret Pole
May 28: Martyr of England. She was born Margaret ... Read More