Does the USCCB Understand Subsidiarity?


The plan of House Republicans to read the Constitution aloud on January 6, the second day of the 112th Congress, has provoked jeering from the liberal media. Yet in the midst of the jeers came a revealing comment from Washington Post columnist and blogger Ezra Klein in an appearance on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown:

The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago, and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.

During the interview with Nora O’Donnell, Klein clarified the comment somewhat by confessing his cynicism: “It seems to me that these legal battles almost always break down along partisan lines and have very little to do with any sort of enduring understanding of the document.”

Whether Klein’s chief concern is the age of the Constitution or the inevitability of conflicting claims made about its interpretation, he appears to have given up on a shared and “enduring understanding” that would guide the work of government.

Thus, Klein misses completely the central purpose of this exercise: a symbolic reminder that our nation is founded on a specific set of first principles designed to limit government and protect individual liberty.

Republicans, however, hope to move beyond the symbolic gesture by changing the House rules so that each bill introduced must cite its constitutional authority.

The Democrats who accuse House Republicans of grandstanding have only themselves to blame: They ignored altogether the constitutional questions raised about the health-care legislation passed by the last Congress.

U.S. district court judge Henry Hudson, responding to a suit brought by Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, recently ruled the new health care law unconstitutional. Hudson found the legislation represented an “unchecked expansion” of congressional power. He explained that Congress does not have the authority, even under its power to regulate interstate commerce, to force a citizen to purchase private insurance coverage. The judge wrote:

At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance — or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage — it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.

Twenty other states have similar constitutional challenges pending, making it a certainty that what President Obama considers the greatest accomplishment of his administration will end up being adjudicated by the Supreme Court.


When I first commented on the Virginia decision, I noted that no official response had been released by the USCCB. That remains the case. But with the likelihood that the Obama administration’s version of universal health care will be dismantled either by the Supreme Court, the Congress, or both, the USCCB should be looking for other ways of reaching the same goal.

Perhaps this effort could begin with paying closer attention to the reading of the Constitution on January 6. Catholics, after all, should understand how institutions are rooted in first principles.

While the bishops objected vigorously to the presence of abortion funding in the legislation, they seem untroubled by the question of its general constitutionality, one that comports closely with the principle of subsidiarity as articulated in Catholic social teaching.

Why so much of the public policy advocated by the USCCB in the past 30 years seems oblivious to subsidiarity has been the topic of much speculation. Rev. Donald Boesch, writing for the Acton Institute, suggests it’s due to a basic misunderstanding. In my 2008 book Onward Christian Soldiers, I traced it to the habit of the conference documents to portray “structures of sin” in social rather than individual terms.

Commentators on the Catholic culture wars focus on abortion, marriage, and homosexuality while completely overlooking the deep divisions over subsidiarity and the role of government in seeking the common good.

But now that a state court has found that the principle of individual liberty is violated by the health-care legislation, the questions of subsidiarity and individual liberty again come to the fore. As this case, and perhaps similar cases, moves toward the Supreme Court, the USCCB will no longer be able to duck questions about expanding the power of the federal government.

It’s a good moment in our nation’s history for all of us to take a fresh look at our founding documents. And while we are at it, Catholics can lay them alongside the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church and note how a limited government with a separation of powers, as well as a respect for individual liberty and free enterprise, is not antithetical to what is found there.

Deal W. Hudson


Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of "Church and Culture," a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ Formerly publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine for ten years, his articles and comments have been published widely in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. He has also appeared on TV and radio news shows such as the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, NBC News, and All Things Considered on National Public Radio. Hudson worked with Karl Rove in coordinating then-Gov. George W. Bush's outreach to Catholic voters in 2000 and 2004. In October 2003, President Bush appointed him a member of the official delegation from the United States to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II's papacy. Hudson, a former professor of philosophy for 15 years, is the editor and author of eight books. He tells the story of his conversion from Southern Baptist to Catholic in An American Conversion (Crossroad, 2003), and his latest, Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States, was published in March 2008. He is married to Theresa Carver Hudson, also a Baptist convert, and they have two children, Hannah and Cyprian who was adopted from Romania in 2001.

  • Angela

    Dear Mr. Hudson,

    In Archbishop Chaput’s book, “Render Unto Caesar”, he wrote about Jesus’ words from the Gospel of Matthew: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Archbishop Chaput writes, “Jesus does three vital things here. First, he acknowledges that Caesar has rights…But second, he desacralizes– in effect, he demotes– Caesar, by suggesting that caesar has not rights over those things that belong to God… And third, Jesus stays silent about what exactly belongs to either one. Figuring that out belongs to us.” (p.204)

    Elsewhere in the book, Bishop Chaput suggests that the bishops are to teach us moral principles, and it is our duty to figure out how to apply them. This mimics what Christ did.

    The political issues of abortion, homosexuality, and marriage all involve attempts to legalize instrinic evil. Abortion is ALWAYS wrong. Homosexuality is always wrong, and marriage is always between a man and a woman. There is absolutely no moral gray area. Therefore, the bishops need to offer moral teaching on those issues.

    Subsidiarity is different. If I understand correctly, Catholic social teaching rests on the principles of charity, subsidiarity (making decisions as locally as possible), and solidarity (the common good). Subsidiarity and solidarity are NOT absolutes. In fact, they are in tension with one another, and we need to seek some sort of balance between these principles. Extreme subsidiarity leads to a lack of solidarity, and vice versa.

    It is the bishops’ job to teach us what is morally right and wrong. When a political proposal is made, and/or enacted into law, which directly supports something intrinsically evil such as abortion, the bishops have the right and duty to teach us that it is wrong. That does not mean that they have a duty to suggest political solutions when no intrinsic moral evil is involved, and it does not make them guardians of our secular Constitution.

    You write that “the USCCB will no longer be able to duck questions about expanding the power of the federal government”. I believe the USCCB is wise to duck such a question, because it is not a moral issue where there is a clear problem of intrinsic evil. The bishops will continue to inform us about moral teaching so that we can apply that moral teaching to our political decisions. That means the bishops are doing their jobs.

  • Greg

    To “Render”
    If Catholic social teaching rests partially on subsidiarity, and if expanded federal government power usurps subsidiarity then surely the Bishops do have an obligation to speak out against government power expansion.

  • Kevin

    The problem is that, according to the principles of subsidiarity, the smallest and most local social entity should accept responsibility, and if a problem is beyond the scope of such, it should be handled by a more remote authority. Universal health coverage is by definition, therefore, a Federal issue and not a state or local issue.

    “Subsidiarity” does not always mean “local”, nor does it always mean “libertarian”.

    So if Obamacare does not force people to purchase insurance but instead taxes them to pay for coverage, the plan might (or might not) become constitutional – but its constitutionality is not necessarily tied to the issue of subsidiarity.

  • Ender

    But with the likelihood that the Obama administration’s version of universal health care will be dismantled either by the Supreme Court, the Congress, or both, the USCCB should be looking for other ways of reaching the same goal.

    We have become so used to seeing the USCCB entwined in political issues that we accept their involvement without considering whether or not it is appropriate. I agree with Angela (above). Where there is no issue of intrinsic evil involved it is probable that the bishops should not be involved either, at least not involved to the degree of offering specific solutions to political issues.

    Abortion and euthanasia are moral issues; immigration and health care are not. The moral position is clear for the first two but there is very little that is clear about the others … except that resolving their problems involves practical, not moral, questions.

  • Martial Artist

    First, to assume as you do that there should be universal coverage begs the question. You also seem to have missed several levels in your analysis of subsidiarity by ignoring the county, city and family (to list them in reverse order of precedence under the concept of subsidiarity).

    What you are arguing for by begging the question is the imposition of a planned economy in health care. Kindly provide one historical example of a nation-state wherein a planned economic approach to any need of society has ever worked for more than a few decades before failing abysmally. For some reason, I seen unable to locate such an example.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  • Jerry Schmutte

    Some vital statistics: 1) Over half the sitting American bishops covered up priestly sex abuse in one way or another, 2) 95% refuse to enforce Canon 915 concerning pro-abortion politicians, 3) 95% continue to support the thoroughly corrupt Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Authentic Catholics can only reach one conclusion: the American bishops (as a group) have long since lost the Faith.

  • mark henry

    Dear Deal:
    Thank you for contributing to the dearth of informed writing on subsidiarity which is certainly a teaching made for the current times.
    I was wondering whether there is any support for the notion that the founding documents, i.e. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, borrow much from subsidiarity? An interesting concept, perhaps worth writing about.
    Lastly, I have been behind the scenes evangelizing to mid-level Tea Party activists who fancy themselves as Constitutional experts who have never hear of subsidiarity. Most of them are evangelical and after they get intriqued by the concept of subsidiarity I drop the other shoe and let them know it is a core Catholic teaching. My way of having a little fun in the political and religious apologetics crossover.
    Keep up the good work.
    Mark Henry

  • Angela

    Dear Mr. Schmutte,

    I am trying to find a charitable way to reply. Please know that I wish you the best and I hope that my good intent will come across, even though this format makes it sometimes difficult to discern a person’s tone or attitude. I disagree with you, but I respect you as a person.

    1) Please provide sources for your statistics, if you are going to use them in any meaningful way. If the 95% is used euphemistically to indicate “many”, it could mislead people, even though that is not your intent.

    2) Archbishop Chaput wrote in “Render Unto Caesar” that “no uniformity exists in handling these matters (the decision to deny communion to politicians) in the United States nor anywhere in the world” (p.226). He notes that “a national policy could make it impossible for a bishop to act in a timely way; it would also intrude on a bishop’s individual discretion in shepherding his own local church”.

    In my view, it is dangerous for us to think that we know how to make decisions on behalf of the bishops. I found Acrhbishops Chaput’s book helpful, because he offered some insight into how the bishops make those decisions.

  • M. A. H. Broadwater

    There is a disturbing trend in Catholicism in the United State. Simply put: the public Catholic voice in America has been hijacked by people who have confused being conservative, voting Republican, and being an American patriotic with being Catholic. Just because the Republican Party is on the right side of “life” issues does not excuse the party’s wholesale contempt for the poor. It is the party of economic privilege, the party that historically belonged to anti-Catholic Episcopalians and now belongs to anti-Catholic fundamentalist, the party that has euphemistically fought true civil rights in the name of “states rights,” that has favored the rights of big business and the wealthy always over the rights of the poor and the working class, the party that favors the death penalty, the party that is always trying to protect the polluter not the environment, the party that wants to make sure that when the extremely wealthy die their sons and daughters will not have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps like the sons and daughters of the working class. If we are forced to vote for these anti-Catholic jackals… it is only while holding our noses… only because the Democratic Party’s stance on “life” issues and our two-party system leaves us no choice. But for anyone to assert that a true Catholic can be a full member of the Republican Party… I call that man a liar who does not have the ability to reason.

  • Jerry Schmutte


  • Angela

    Mr. Schmutte, I sincerely thank you for providing your sources of data.

    1) I can see where you found the evidence of more than half of the bishops covering up sex abuse in some way. According to, “Approximately two-thirds of sitting U.S. bishops were alleged in 2002 to have kept accused priests in ministry or moved accused priests to new assignments.”

    However, when I looked at the John Jay report on the bishops’ website, I found that 45% of priests with credible allegations were suspended, 25% resigned or were retired, 9% were dead at the time of allegation, 5% sought laicization, and 6% were removed from the clergy.(…ponse3.pdf)

    The situation is further complicated by the fact that half of all allegations were made ten to thirty years after the abuse was reported to have occurred, and 25% of cases were reported more than thirty years after the fact (same source).

    I do not find it at all simple to sort this out, espeically since some of the actions occured decades ago, and many involved are dead or retired or no longer in the Church. I do not think it is logical to project all of that onto current sitting bishops and make a generalization that they have lost their faith.

    2) I could not find evidence of 95% supporting the CCHD.

    3) I do not know the wording of Canon 915, but Archbishop Chaput does not agree that all bishops should automatically deny communion to Catholic politicians supporting legalized abortion. I am certain he knows Canon law better than I do.

    In conclusion, I disagree that “Authentic Catholics can only reach one conclusion: the American bishops (as a group) have long since lost the Faith.”

    Now some sincere questions: If we do conclude that American bishops have lost the Faith, then to whom shall we go? Shall we shepherd ourselves and ignore the moral teaching of our bishops? If so, then who or what is our guide, if not our own bishops? I am not attempting to mock you. I sincerely wonder how anyone with your popint of view answers that question. In my view, I can either follow my bishop, or try to shepehered myself, in whcih case I will be relying on my own limited and warped understanding, instead of on the apostolic succession instituted by Christ.

  • Jim B

    To M. A. H. Broadwater

    Perhaps you “tiredness” would be alleviated if the “party of death” would stop using government programs as a synonym for “Catholic Social Justice”. I offer FORMER Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her ilk as “exhibit A”

    Pelosi to Catholics — Immigration Reform is a ‘Manifestation of Our Living the Gospels’

    This is the same idiot that says contraception is moral because it reduces costs

    Pelosi Birth Control Will Stimulate the Economy

    Bottom line – both JPII and Benedict have said that the life issues trump all others. Until the Demoncrats stop courting every degenerate group on the planet as their base – nothing will change.

  • M. A. H. Broadwater

    I am tired of America-First Catholics believing that somehow I have to accept all the evil that is part of the Republican agenda without question all because they are on the correct side of life issues. What I want is both parties to change. The Republican Party is merely the lesser of two evils. What I am most tired of is reading Republican talking points disguised and Catholic teaching and people foolish enough to think that they are the same thing. What I want is reason not reactionary foolishness.

  • Jerry Schmutte

    Concerning CCHD, as the article reveals, only 10 (out of 300) bishops have cut it off. That’s less than 5%.

    Looking at the larger picture, every English bishop but one (St. John Fisher) betrayed the Church during the 1500’s. If you had lived at that time, would you have followed the near-unanimous betrayers just because they were bishops?

    The USCCB has no canonical authority. I’ll go with the Magisterium vs. the American bishops every time. The great thing about the Catholic Church is its Magisterial authority. The Church has a body of clear teaching that trumps the teaching of individual bishops. I urge you to read Canon 915 and then defend AB Chaput’s position.

    Concerning Bishop Chaput, he still supports CCHD despite the overwhelming evidence against that organization. I have written him two letters on the subject and he has responded to neither. I hsve also written my own Archbishop two letters and he has responded to neither. That lack of response is typical of the American bishops. There is a definite arrogance in the way they have reacted to the CCHD scandal.

    I’d like you to consider the following quote from Cardinal Burke regarding Canon 915: “To ignore the fact that Catholics in public life, for example, who persistently violate the moral law regarding the inviolability of innocent human life or the integrity of the marital union, lead many into confusion or even error regarding the most fundamental teachings of the moral law, in fact, contributes to the confusion and error, redounding to the gravest harm to our brothers and sisters, and, therefore, to the whole nation.

    The perennial discipline of the Church, for that reason among other reasons, has prohibited the giving of Holy Communion and the granting of a Church funeral to those who persist, after admonition, in the grave violation of the moral law.

    When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public. The person in question bears a heavy responsibility for the grave scandal which he has caused. The responsibility is especially heavy for political leaders. The repair of such scandal begins with the public acknowledgment of his own error and the public declaration of his adherence to the moral law. The soul which recognizes the gravity of what he has done will, in fact, understand immediately the need to make public reparation . . .”

    No one is saying that bishops should unilaterally decree that specific pro-abortion politicians can’t receive Communion. They should first counsel them in private about Church teaching. But this rarely happens. Today, Bishop Hubbard of Albany, NY gave Communion to Andrew Cuomo and his publicly-acknowledged mistress at Cuomo’s inauguration. What a disgrace!

    Apostolic succession guarantees that bishops (and their priests) can provide valid sacraments. It in no way guarantees their teaching, and it never has.

  • Carl

    Bishop Chaput’s book is not a Social Doctrine teaching per se. As the Cover states, we need to serve our Nation by living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. Page 6, “Finally, this book doesn’t offer any grand theory.” Page 10, “People who take God seriously will not remain silent about their faith.” page 43, “asking Catholics to keep their faith out of public affairs amounts to telling them to be barren”

    While Chaput doesn’t appear to use the term subsidiarity in his book he explains it well on page 71, ” One insight American Catholics need to draw from these seventeen hundred years of wrestling with Constantine’s legacy in best described as “limited government under God.” Government is limited because politics by nature is limited, just as life in this world is limited. Politics does not exhaust our humanness. In fact, it’s absect from the most important dimensions of life.”

    Finally, the four basic elements of Social Teaching, NOT social jusice, are the common good, subsidiarity, solidiarity, and human dignity. And they DO NOT oppose each other, they are equal supports, and must be equally proportioned.

  • Deal W. Hudson

    I had to chuckle at the suggestion that “conservative Republicans” somehow twist Catholic Social Teaching to their own ends. That’s what happens when you challenge the Democratic Party version of Catholic Social Teaching that has held it captive for at least forty years. Any effort Republican Catholics have made, and I admit to having tried, to alter the consensus of how this teaching applies to politics has only made the slightest dent. The effort has fallen far short of any kind of hijacking or coup d’etat of the Catholic political establishment.

  • Deacon Ed

    the evidence that all the social welfare programs administered by the government – both State and Federal – and financed by the hard working taxpaying public for the past 75 years have been effective? With all the money expended, every family falling below that imaginary ‘poverty line’ could have been given 5 million dollars to invest and they would have been better off.

    Sorry, but government social welfare programs have been a miserable failure. The government bureacrats get rich and the poor get poorer.

  • ffr vincent fitzpatrick

    Angela: Archbishop Chaput is flat wrong about Canon 915. First of all, the canon itslef provides the answeer about its own “implementtation”–IT IS TO BE OBEYED.

    The n. This concept appears to be one thatonly about 15 American bishops are able wrap their minds around. Read this:

    Please excuse typos. Typing on a Nook.

  • Christopher Butler

    In response to Mr. Broadwater, Respectfully, It is the political left and the Democratic Party that has effectively hijacked Catholic social teaching. In fact, a governmental philosophy which favors smaller, local government, light touch regulation, and services provided by private entities as opposed to governmental ones best answers the call of Catholic social justice, which is primarily directed at the behavior of individuals (when properly understood in the light of Tradition.

    Subsidiarity is the bedrock of Catholic social justice teaching in part because it recognizes an undeniable fact, that patriotism (the Aristotelian virtue as opposed to Minutemen, etc.) is a powerful motivator. Only love of one’s family, fellows, and neighbors can motivate a man to do good. The social order imposed by socialists over the last 75 years has destroyed the American family by taking away the proper role of men, women and children. The economic necessities that were the guardians of virtue have been stripped away by programs like government-run welfare, that traps its victims in a never-ending cycle of poverty, particularly for African Americans. Jesus taught us of the difficulties of the rich to reach the kingdom of God. One of the reasons is that wealth destroys many of the natural constraints on acting without virtue. Paradoxically, wealth redistribution schemes have delivered the evils of wealth to the poor without any of the benefits. A welfare recipient now has to have the virtue of Louis IX in order to avoid the pitfalls of a destroyed family, because he or she can procreate without repercussion, for example. No financial constraints help to tame the vices, as Aquinas wrote that positive law was able to do in the ages of faith. Just to give one example.

    But from stem to stern, disempowering individuals and, particularly, families, has led to decline in family life, education (it has left Catholic education a devastated vineyard), meanwhile huge sums are transferred from families that have a right to educate their children and provide for their own financial needs. A great quantity of this is transferred to public employee unions, which use it to hold government and politicians captive in their desire to acquire ever more money and power. This entire system is corrupt, traps the poor and neuters men in particular. It is not a Catholic approach to financial policy, even leaving aside the life question.

    But let us not leave aside the life question. There is a reason that the flag of life is planted on the political Right. The left’s desire to compartmentalize and organize society requires abortion, because it requires treating human beings as cogs in a machine. These cogs ideally are interchangeable, which is why feminism is planted on the left. In order for this to be effective, birth control must be widely available, and birth control eventually requires abortion, as Paul VI so accurately foresaw. The socialist state–and I would argue we already live in it–requires birth control and therefore abortion so that it can organize society. One great Catholic thinker I know used to be thoroughly discouraged that the flag of life somehow was planted on the Right until he felt he finally came to understand the reason. Instead of giving up his position on life in order to more fully embrace the Welfare State (as every northeastern Democrat elected official has done over the last 50 years), he realized that the only solution to a sinful social structure is to shrink it and limit its power. It simply cannot be “baptized”.

  • Angela

    There is so much to respond to that I cannot address it all.

    My primary concern, after reading Mr. Hudson’s original article and some of the comments, is that I believe it is important for me, as a lay person, to recognize the difference between an innate evil and a judgment call, and to respect the bishops when they make judgment calls which are theirs to make.

    Abortion is an innate evil, always, under any circumstances, so the bishops can offer a black and white teaching that it is always wrong. How canon law applies to the issue of pro-abortion politicians, how long to try to persuade them before publicly denying them communion, and whether or not to publicly discuss subsidiarity in the context of the current U.S. political situation are judgment calls, and God has given the bishops, not me, the grace needed to do their job. Mr. Hudson’s article first asked if the bishops understand subsidiarity. Of course they do, and I found his sarcasm disrespectful. I tried to explain why they might choose to “duck questions about expanding the power of the federal government”, as he (disrespectfully, in my opinion) phrased it.

    Next, Mr. Schmutte made the sweeping generalization that “Authentic Catholics can only reach one conclusion: the American bishops (as a group) have long since lost the Faith.” I tried to respectfully explain why the facts he presented did not obviously support his conclusion, and why an “authentic” Catholic could reach a conclusion other than his.

    I urge anyone who would like to understand why bishops make the decisions they do, and how we lay people can live as both responsible U.S. citizens and faithful Catholics, to read Archbishop Chaput’s book, “Render Unto Caesar”.
    The Archbishop discusses the very issues whcih concern Mr. Hudson and Mr. Schmutte. Hold Archbishop Chaput’s charity and logic up beside the sarcastic attacks against the bishops you have read here, and you can reach your own conclusion.

  • M. A. H. Broadwater

    Until Roe vs. Wade almost all Catholics voted Democratic precisely because it was the party of the working class. It was the party that protected ordinary men and women from the abuses of big business and the wealthy. It was the party that worked to get minimum wage laws passed, that stood up against the evil of child labor, that insisted on safe working environments, on rights for farm laborers and migrant workers. In short it was the part of justice for those without economic power. Somewhere over the last two generations people have forgotten that Catholic immigrants to this country were particularly exploited by industrial and railroad tycoons, mine and textile owners, and meat packers. Vast fortunes were created on the broken backs of poor men, women, and children. It was only a strong Federal government and strong labor laws that ended the abuse. I for one am not naive enough to believe that human nature has changed. We need a strong government to protect us from terrorism for certain. But we also need a strong government to protect us from the greedy and evil men and women who would abuse and exploit the poor and powerless if given half a chance. I suggest, nay… predict to you that those who are most vehemently working to convince you to limit the role of government will be the very first in line to exploit and take advantage of the poor and powerless when the opportunity arises… and they will do it in the name of their Protestant faith.

  • Christopher Butler

    Well, the highest corporate income tax in the world has driven all manufacturing out of the U.S., so we don’t have to worry about exploitation of the working class any more. Labor unions are now overwhelmingly populated by government employees that are certainly not exploited–in fact they earn double what private sector employees do on the backs of the real working class that pay the taxes. From California to New Jersey states are bankrupt from the Democratic party machine.

    Catholic immigrants were Democrat because Republicans spat at them on the docks and Democrats controlled the political machines that traded patronage for votes before the progressive era, with some notable exceptions where the Republicans controlled political machines (and immigrants became Republican). Parties were not ideologically based until the middle of the 20th Century, which is why I tried to talk about smaller government and left vs. right as opposed to party. You should read Al Smith on why he primaried FDR.

    Just as northern Republicans who were Republican because their grandaddy fought for Lincoln are a dying breed, so now Catholics have the job of choosing sides based not on why Tammany Hall gave uncle Patrick a job.

    Of course human nature hasn’t changed. Who do you think runs the government? It is the same corrupt people amassing power that you talk about. Food regulation destroyed the local shopkeeper whose business was built on trust. toward the creation of giant agribusiness, the same agribusiness, supported by the environmentalist left that forces us to burn our food in the form of ethanol, which I consider highly immoral.

    Today you also don’t have to worry about railroad tycoons. The government has destroyed the best rail system in the world by regulating it out of existence and funding its competitors. And we can’t even find people in this country to pack meat any more. Have you been in a coma since the Concrete Jungle? It’s not the 1930s–a depression completely unhelped by the vast government expansion FDR created, as admitted by his own treasurer.

    But let us not forget that the law of salvation is the highest law. All Catholic thought needs to be directed toward that purpose. A smaller, more local government is better for helping everyone materially, but even if it weren’t it would be necessary to critically take account of what it does to families to remove their (and the Church’s and the associations, etc.) power and responsibility and reallocate it to the Federal Government. The heresy of ideology is (roughly) seeking salvation in ideological systems. Humanity will never be saved by the Federal Government. That was accomplished on the Cross.

  • Louie

    MR. Broadwater;

    When you disparage the Republican’s for their “wholesale contempt for the poor”, I am presuming that you are referencing their failure to vote for increased government welfare. However, I don

  • M. A. H. Broadwater

    My original point was that I was tired of Republican talking points be foisted upon us as if they were really Catholic teaching. And lo and behold… that is what I get in response. The clear call for us to respect life and to vote for politicians and parties that do likewise does not mean that we have to embrace wholesale the many other evils that that party and those politicians bring with them.
    America is not now and never will be a Catholic nation. It is a Calvinistic country, where wealth and privilege are seen as proof in this life of salvation in the next life. In Calvinism, people get what they deserve in this life. There is no sense of “but there by the grace of God go I.” There is no grace, only consequences for sinners and salvation and success for those who have earned the good things of this life and the life to come by working hard.
    Like all Protestantism, Calvinism replaced the sacraments, the saints, Mary, and the authority of the Church with the worship of the Bible, hence the bizarre fundamentalism and biblical literalism that belongs to many who now make up the base of the Republican Party. This same distorted view of the Bible informs the attitude they bring now to the Constitution. The Constitution has become a sacred thing that we are to worship in true American religiosity the same way as the Bible is worshiped in true Protestant religiosity.
    Again I want both parties to change… but hold out little hope. I have even less hope when I see earnest Catholics being duped into to confusing Calvinism with Church teaching, corporate tax rates with caring for the poor, the gospel of success with the Gospel of Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • M. A. H. Broadwater

    When I hear or read someone saying, as Louie above does, “other people’s money,” I am reminded that everything we have in this world, everything, is a gift from God. Technically speaking Louie, you, me, and the rich man down the street have earned absolutely nothing. We have no right whatever to anything. It all, all, belongs to God the Father.

  • Jerry Schmutte

    You did everything but respond to my assertions. Do you know anything about CCHD? Do you
    know about the CCHD’s Stations of the Cross which compared pro-abortion organizations to Jesus?…&Itemid=18 Do you know that CCHD will not even publish the list of 2009 and 2010 grantees because they can’t withstand scrutiny? The evidence that CCHD supports pro-abortion Democrats is overwhelming. This is not a judgment call. AB Chaput can write anything he wants in a book. It’s what he does that matters. And he continues to support the sleaze at CCHD.

  • Carl

    “other people’s money”
    “Technically speaking Louie, you, me, and the rich man down the street have earned absolutely nothing. We have no right whatever to anything”

    Can you reconcile these comments with Church Teachings?

    CCC2434 says “a just wage is the legitimate fruit of work.

    CCC2429 says “Everyone has the right of economic initiative; everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that will benefit all and to harvest the just fruits of his labor.”

    CCC2402 says “In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race…The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.”

    Mr. Boadwater you appear to be ignoring the principal of subsidiarity. Your “Original Assertion” that no man has earned or has the right to anything is disingenuous at best.

    The argument should be about how much and when to tithe; when and how much government gets involved.

    CCC Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.


    CCC2431 says,

  • Telemachus

    Mr. Broadwater, I sympathize with your statements. All of the words that you have been writing are, to some extent, what I used to think. But you’re misguided, just as I was. I don’t know of any quick way to help you see this except to ask you to re-read what Chris Butler has been writing, and to really think about it. Learn some basic economics, as well: that you think minimum-wage laws actually help people is quite telling. Child labor is also a trickier issue than you make it out to be: should children have been allowed to work on the farms of their families?

    We are selling the poor into slavery to the state by supporting its myriad bait-and-switch programs. I think this is happening due to a lack of faith, personally: we really don’t want to have to take care of the poor, but would rather hire bureaucrats to play zookeeper for them.

  • Louie

    You wrote: “When I hear or read someone saying, as Louie above does, “other people’s money,” I am reminded that everything we have in this world, everything, is a gift from God. Technically speaking Louie, you, me, and the rich man down the street have earned absolutely nothing. We have no right whatever to anything. It all, all, belongs to God the Father.”

    Not only true, but worth remembering.

    On the other hand, I do hold that money in trust from God (otherwise that “do not steal” commandment doesn’t mean much) and I have a duty to spend it wisely. I may spend it wisely or, occasionally, unwisely. What I have discovered, however, is that is that government tends to spend money really, really unwisely. Unwisely X 10 to the 12th power, I believe. The Republicans haven’t been much better than the Democrats but perhaps they are learning.

    The Democrats have been trying to win elections by encouraging violation of the 10th commandment.

    I am reminded of that scripture quotation; “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to …..”
    OK. Don’t worry about that last part. Caesar takes care of everything now.

  • Nell

    [The Dedmocratic party] was the party that worked to get minimum wage laws passed, that stood up against the evil of child labor, that insisted on safe working environments, on rights for farm laborers and migrant workers. In short it was the part of justice for those without economic power.

    If it did all those things, it did them for whites only. It was also the party of slavery and against civil rights until the 1960s when they saw the opportunity to grab the black vote in the south (once the blacks finally looked like they would get to exercise the right to vote). The South was pretty solidly democratic until the Democrats ‘betrayed’ them on civil rights for Blacks. That’s when the South went Republican. Civil rights for Blacks were largely a Republican effort already in the 1860s. It took the Democrats 100 years to jump on that bandwagon.

    Let’s not forget this in the rush to make the Democrats the champions of ‘justice for those without economic power’ – as long as those people represented potential votes, anyway.

  • Marthe L

    “Jesus taught us of the difficulties of the rich to reach the kingdom of God. One of the reasons is that wealth destroys many of the natural constraints on acting without virtue. Paradoxically, wealth redistribution schemes have delivered the evils of wealth to the poor without any of the benefits.”
    This is very interesting… Am I to understand that we should not do anything to change the fate of the poor because it is to their moral advantage to remain poor? “The economic necessities that were the guardians of virtue have been stripped away by programs like government-run welfare…” In our times when the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider, maybe taxing away much of the wealth of the rich would actually be a good thing, bringing back for them those economic necessities that are the guardians of virtue. What is deemed good for the people who are already poor, or who are increasingly falling into poverty, should be good for the rich too, who could disagree with that?

  • Don L

    When (and if) the Church returns to its primary mission of the salvation of souls, subsidiarity will return as a moral imperative. They were, in my opinion, seriously out of touch on Obamacare by neglecting this issue. But then, their funding through ACORN and their majority silence on honoring this most pro-death president in history, gives us a clue as to their politics. God bless those few who are following Christ in seeking salvation for their flocks instead of an earthly paradise.

  • Don L

    “In our times when the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider, maybe taxing away much of the wealth of the rich would actually be a good thing, bringing back for them those economic necessities that are the guardians of virtue.”

    There’s an economic gap between Donald Trump and Oprah but neither are hurting (finacially anyways)

    I would suggest talk of “the Gap” is hardly biblical or from tradition. It is purely political. If every poor (we have the richest poor in the world) person were given a trillion and the rich had more, would the GAP matter? Our poor are suffering in no small part because of the politics of government addiction and victim politics. The real crime is that they have now become enslaved with their souls to the control and manipulation of what John Paul II referred to as the evil of the Welfare State.

  • Justin

    Mr. Broadwater,

    I just want to expose a couple of misguided notions. Conservatives whom you say are the “economically priveleged” and have “wholesale comtempt for the poor” actually make less money yet give more to charity than liberals.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

    P.S. It is now 2011, the 60’s are long gone. Maybe it’s time to move on.