Beyond Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative: Time for Good Governance
The principle of subsidiarity, a social ordering principle, lies at the heart of Catholic Social teaching
There is little discussion about the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic circles and virtually none in the national political debate. Many Catholics do not even know that there is such a principle within the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. Instead they have borrowed charged rhetoric from both the political left and the political right for far too long and failed to offer their unique contribution to the common good. We need an intelligent discussion of the underlying issue - what constitutes "good" governance - and Catholics can and should take the lead.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In the aftermath of the US Supreme Court's decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act it is time for a discussion about good government. After being told by the current Administration that the penalty for non-compliance with the "individual mandate" to purchase insurance was not a "tax", the Court found it to be a tax, in a dense majority opinion. Based upon that - and not based upon the Commerce Clause - the lawsuits failed to meet their intended goal of having the Act declared unconstitutional.
So, even though the Act does indeed require citizens to purchase a product or face a penalty (the individual mandate), since the penalties are a now called a "tax" by the Supreme Court; they fall under Congress' tax and spend power. The arguments over this dense opinion, its suspect evolution into the majority opinion, its convoluted rationale and its implications for the future of public policy are now academic. They will become fodder for law students and law review editors for years to come.
The importance of the other lawsuits heading for the US Supreme Court becomes even more evident. They allege the Act is unconstitutional in its implementation. The HHS mandate requiring Church owned or related employers to purchase insurance which provides abortion inducing drugs, contraception and sterilizations, violates the Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.
These lawsuits are correct in their analysis of this onerous mandate. It would compel Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and people of good will to violate their conscience and violate deeply held religious beliefs, or face an onerous "tax" (government penalty) and persecution. This mandate must be opposed by every Catholic and other concerned Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will who respect the fundamental right to religious freedom.
However, if this mandate were not at issue, the idea of federalizing the provision of health care cries out for discussion. It represents a massive increase in the role of the Federal Government. We have witnessed the dangers which accompany such an expansion when the administration in power has no respect for fundamental human rights such as the Right to Religious Freedom and the Right to Life.
Yes, we should all agree that there is a need for a better vehicle for the delivery of health care services to all of our citizens. The current approach truly does need reform and repair. However, I maintain that there should be a serious caution over "federalizing" the delivery of health care in the United States, for many reasons.
Here is the policy question which needs to be asked; does centralizing the delivery of health care services through an increasingly bloated federalized bureaucracy violate the principle of subsidiarity, a social ordering principle which lies at the heart of Catholic Social teaching. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes these astute observations:
"All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God. The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation."
"A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an "heir" and receives certain "talents" that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop. He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good."
"Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but "the human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions. Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him."
"To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged "on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs."
"This "socialization" also expresses the natural ...
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