58 Responses to On Endorsements, Subsidiarity, and Prudential Questions

  • I think one of the prime examples one can raise to show how many people do not understand subsidiarity, and seem to use it only for politics, is to watch those who demand it in politics look only to the Pope in ecclesial issues.

  • Didn’t mean to Catholic Vote out per se, but Mr. Denton has raised the issue and I wanted to follow it up.

    Yes. CV makes the endorsements, and I wanted to critique them on that; otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned them at all. While they are using subsidiarity loosely as you point out, they are hardly the worst offenders on that score.

    I do like the rest of your post, as it sets out that subsidiarity and solidarity are principles that work together in way that theologians are still unpacking, and ways that will dictate different results in different situations. This requires in-depth and complicated analyses depending on many factors. It is this kind of analyses which the laity with their various areas of expertise can really excel in and the kind of work that lay groups ought to sink their teeth into.

  • Phillip says:

    I might also add that Catholic teaching would argue for the integrity of the family. But that does not mean that the family cannot be deported. That I would argue is a prudential judgment.

    Recently a family I knew, that had been here ten years was deported back to Colombia. That included the two children who were born in Colombia but had spent almost all of their lives in the US. They were fluent in both languages as was the father (the mother was not) and had extensive family ties back in Colombia. Once returned I heard the family started a restuarant business. I think one can say that, prudentially, deporting the whole family was consistent with CST.

  • Phillip says:

    I might also say that if one argues that the principle of subsidiarity is still being worked out by theologians (as a question such as how natural law works has been worked on for centuries and is still not clarified) one has to be careful in saying that one is applying it wrongly.

  • MJAndrew says:

    I might also say that if one argues that the principle of subsidiarity is still being worked out by theologians (as a question such as how natural law works has been worked on for centuries and is still not clarified) one has to be careful in saying that one is applying it wrongly.

    This is true only if there is no clarity on the principle. One can lack all the details of a principle’s implications but still identify the principle’s misuse. With respect to subsidiarity, we are clear on the principle’s general constraints, scope, and central cases, so while we may not have teased out all its implications, we can tell situations when it is being used incorrectly. This is even more true of natural law.

  • WJ says:

    Phillip,

    I take it that (1) you are right in principle but (2) there are nonetheless grounds, albeit defeasible ones, for thinking that CatholicVote’s application of subsidiarity is problematic. In the very helpful note that Brian Burch penned in response to Michael Denton’s original criticism, he writes:

    We openly acknowledge our reading of Catholic social doctrine to incorporate the principle of subsidiarity in the development of policy prescriptions that seek to bring about the conditions most conducive to the common good. This reading of Church teaching, not altogether novel incidentally, leads us to advocate in many instances a more limited role for the federal government in the governance and control of policies that impact our economy, health care and so forth.

    The problem here is that subsidiarity is being invoked as though that concept were capable of being abstracted from the larger framework of Catholic Social Teaching. As Aquila rightly points out, subsidiarity rightly understood cannot be taken in isolation from what, in the development of Catholic Social Teaching, has come to be regarded as the twin principle of solidarity. And neither of these can be understood apart from reflecting upon how each informs and reflects other principles in CST, such as the option for the poor, the priority of labor over capital, etc.

    Now when subsidiarity *is* taken in isolation from these other principles, what often results is some version of neoliberalism gussied up in Catholic dress. That CatholicVote is in danger of making just this mistake is evident, it seems to me, from the easy transition that Burch makes from invoking subsidiarity to speaking of the “more limited role for federal government” in enacting policies that impact our “economy, health care, and so forth.”

    Compare, for example, Caritas in Veritate’s struggle to acknowledge on the one hand the need for regulation of the global economy on a rather large scale and its insistence on the other hand that such regulation must not inhibit legitimate economic activity with Burch’s confident belief that we just need less federal government simpliciter, and you get a feel for why CatholicVote’s interpretation of CST seems overly simple and one-sided.

    I should note that I was a big fan of CatholicVote’s life videos, and that I myself don’t vote at all in national elections on MacIntyrean grounds; I think that CatholicVote really does try to think with the Church, but that it suffers from certain Americanist assumptions of the Novakian and Neuhausian sort.

  • Mark Noonan says:

    WJ,

    How can we not take an “Americanist” view of the world? The United States, alone, is the political and military bulwark for all that is decent in the world. It is the only human defense we have against the night of barbarism re-descending upon the world. We know, of course, that the Church cannot be destroyed and thus there will always be a revival of Christian civilization, no matter what else happens. But this fundamental fact does not excuse us from our duty to defend what has been placed in our hands for the purpose of averting disaster and removing the need to rebuild it all from scratch.

    In a very real sense, the order of importance for things written goes from scripture to the writings of the Doctors of the Church and then sitting in third place is the United States Declaration of Independence. I don’t know how Jefferson managed to do what he did, but by accident, design or Divine inspiration, he put in to a few short paragraphs all that needs be written on the functions of government. We have since learned, by hard experience, that the only way to have a government properly function is to greatly limit its powers…Subsidarity might be only about 80 years old, but the concept has been around at least since 1776. It is what made America what it is.

    And so what we do need, right now, is fundamentally a curbing of the power of the federal government. All our political activity must have this as its primary goal. It is the only way to preserve America, and America is the only means we have of preserving our civilization. It ain’t perfect, but it is both what we got, and what is best as crafted by purely human effort.

  • Phillip says:

    MJ,

    I suspect the details of how natural law works are very unclear to philosophers and theologians. The differences may be pedantic but they do lead to quite different conclusions in the thought of Grisez, Ronheimer and Long. The Church itself has made no definitive pronouncements on how natural law “works” and contents itself at this point to say that there is a natural law that men can know.

    Perhaps we can with subsidiarity say the same thing. There is subsidiarity though, how it works precisely is unclear. I agree that one can say there is enough precision to say that there is a “wrong” application. But that does not necessarily seem the case with CatholicVote. Thei interpretation may be correct. It does not clearly seem wrong.

  • Phillip says:

    WJ,

    I would agree that Catholic Social thought must be looked at as an organic whole and not as parts. Yes there is subsidiarity and solidarity. There is the preferential option for the poor and respect for private property. There is the universal destination of goods and the need to respect the work and fruits of that work of others. There is the need for taxes and a recognition that too many taxes suppress productivity and ultimately the common good. There is also the recognition of the limits of human efforts and the teaching against any utopian ends.

    I would agree in all this that, if CatholicVote is saying one MUST accept their endorsements as dogmatic, they would be wrong. If they make endorsements that they claim are “consistent with CST” I would say that is fine.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    1. Just to be clear, I am not claiming that Catholic Vote’s application of subsidiarity is wrong, just narrow and and overly dogmatic. What do I mean by that? Given the relative newness of the principle of subsidiarity I would hesitate to make such definitive applications of subsidiarity.

    2. Regarding Natural Law, this is a principle that dates back at least 800 years. Although their are different schools of thought on the natural law, we are significantly firmer ground in our understanding of it (thanks in large part to the Angelic Doctor).

    3. A further point on subsidiarity. We need to be careful not to read “Americanism” into any aspect of the Church’s teachings. Subsidiarity must be understood in a universal context before it can be accurately applied to an American context.

    4. WJ’s point about Caritas in Veritate’s contribution to the nuanced discussion of subsidiarity is right on point. Benedict provides a model for balancing subsidiarity within the context of the whole of Catholic Social Teaching.

  • Justin, our view of subsidiarity is “narrow and overly dogmatic” ??

    We believe that the Church teaching on subsidiarity has something to offer on the health care debate. We think that the federal government should not supplant or hamper the role between doctor and patient. Reforms on a state-by-state basis would have been preferable instead of a vast new federal bureaucracy. One could disagree with us. But this doesn’t strike me as “narrow.”

    And we have repeatedly stated that Catholics in good conscience could disagree us. So I really don’t believe the term “dogmatic” is fair.

    In fact, unlike most voices in politics, our own guidelines and approach comes off, I believe, as humble. We are not declaring that this is the only way that Catholics can think about this.

    Justin, you say: “which make this principle, as currently defined, 80 years old. This barely makes it embryonic in the thinking of the Church.”

    Calling it embryonic is overkill. The reason the principle isn’t older is because the principle of subsidiarity only makes sense as a counter to the vast growth of the modern nation-state at the end of the 19th century. With increased technology and transportation, we saw state rulers like Otto von Bismarck consolidate power into central governments. This became repeated all throughout Europe. Thankfully, the United States resisted this trend — for awhile. But there’s a reason the principle wasn’t developed in 1200.

    You write: “I don’t think it is prudent to casually define subsidiarity in light of our political situation in American in 2010.”

    I don’t think we’re being casual about this. Starting from Bush’s TARP to Obama’s takeover of the auto companies, student loans, and the health care industry — it is quite clear that the federal government has vastly expanded its size and scope in the last 20 months. One of the hottest issues this election cycle is: What should the size and scope of the federal government be in the nation’s economy? Should the government continue at its expanded role or should it be scaled back closer to its 2008 levels? And again, we are not claiming to state an official Catholic position on this. We think our position is consistent with and the best application of Catholic teachings. We are not being dogmatic or rigid on this, though. We do think that the Church teaching on subsidiarity has something to offer this.

    You also state: “First of all, we should not limit the application of subsidiarity to government (see CCC 1882). Subsidiarity applies to all organizations.”

    Why would you suggest that we disagree with this? Almost no one in the current political debate is talking about subsidiarity. We brought it up when talking about the size of the federal government and its role in health care. Talking about Catholic teaching on an important political issue… I thought this would be a good thing. I mean, sure, subsidiarity has something to offer Nike, but we brought it up in discussing the size of the federal government.

  • By the way, Justin, a sincere thank you for giving us kudos on endorsing Lipinski.

    There were a lot of Catholic voices, like Jay Anderson that supported Stupak before his betrayal. We at CatholicVote were one of the loudest.

    After he betrayed us, it would be easy for us at CatholicVote to say (and Indiana Right to Life did): “To hell with all Democrats.” But we refused to do this. We have still come out in support of the one Democrat who didn’t back down on his principles. While we don’t agree with Lipinski on everything, we think it’s important to help him out.

    Nancy Pelosi had no opportunity to support a primary challenge to Lipinski this cycle. Illinois’ primary was in February whereas the health care final vote was in March.

    But folks like Pelosi have long memories. And we are rightly concerned that she will use her power and influence (and groups like Emily’s List) to target Dan in the Democratic primary next cycle.

    That’s why we think it’s important to have a campaign fund that raises money from Catholics and gives them to candidates that stand up for our principles.

    And that’s why, Justin, I hope you’ll consider chipping in $5 or $10 to help our cause.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    Josh,

    First off, I didn’t mean the whole critique to be a negative reflection on Catholic Vote or to suggest in way that you would disagree (personally or organizationally) with any aspect of what the CCC lays out. I apologize if this intent was unclear. I meant to lay out the terms of the principle of subsidiarity as part of my larger argument, not to imply you all disagreed with it. In fact I don’t fault Catholic Vote for talking about subsidiarity in the public square at all. What I consider narrow is to use it as a political point without considering its wider standing in the pantheon of Catholic Social Teaching. In Catholic Vote’s defense, your organization has done a much better job than other social conservative organizations in highlighting the Church’s teaching on the environment and immigration.

    I would agree that in some sense the issue of subsidiarity is new in the Church because the corresponding problem is new in society at large. However, the Church tends to think in centuries and so its theology unfolds at a glacial pace. Thus, the principle of subsidiarity is one that still needs time to be unpacked and applied by theologians and the Magisterium. As I pointed out, the principle as stated in the CCC is abstract. It seems odd to apply it to a situation (i.e. TARP for example) which the Magisterium has not applied it too. Your example regarding interference in the exchange between doctor and patient is on safer ground (emphasis on interference). However it is safe to say that insurance companies also interfere in this relationship and thus in some way they violate the principle of subsidiarity. Furthermore, we must recall that the lower orders must be competent in handling a problem, if they aren’t than the higher order in some sense becomes the lower order.

    Again, I am glad to hear subsidiarity being discussed in the public square, but subsidiarity is at the point in its development where it is better served to be discussed and not applied as a litmus test.

  • Good post.

    When it comes to subsidiarity, I see the same errors being made over and over again, especially by the Catholic Vote crowd – the invocation of subsidiarity to defend liberalism, in the sense of individual freedom trumping collective action. Ironically, the intellectual godfather of subsidiarity – Pius XI – reserved some of his harshest language for indidualism, not collectivism: the “poisoned spring” of the “evil individualist” spirit, one of the “twin rocks of shipwreck”, a “despotic economic dictatorship ..consolidated in the hands of a few”. It seems that he was especially worried about violations of subsidiarity, and thus human dignity, by the private sector. And of course, the government has a clear duty to step in and address such injustices.

    Let me address healthcare. It’s funny that the liberals invoke the specter of government involvement in the healthcare market on subsidiarity grounds, but do not seem bothered by the ability of large private sector quasi-monopolistic insurance companies to make decisions in terms of who will be covered, who will be dropped, and what they will charge. They forget that CST sees the provision of healthcare as a right, and I’m sorry – government is not obliged to provide the care, but government is obliged to enforce that right (who else can do so?). They also forget that CST regards many matters of social choice as not appropriate to the market mechanism – and nothing meets this criterion more than healthcare. And they also forget that the Church teaches clearly that subsidiarity without solidarity is an empty shell.

    How do we achieve subsidiarity in healthcare? I would think it centers on a personal doctor-patient relationship, especially in primary care. But in the US today, primary care is indequate relative to comparator countries, too many medical practitioners view healthcare as a profit maximizing business, and the poor are often shunted off to the impersonal indignity of the emergency room. In short, the status quo violates subsidiarity and solidarity.

    There is also the issue of risk pools – healthcare is delivered most efficiently the larger the pool. This is one argument for the individual mandate, but it also suggests that the appropriate dimension for collective decisions on healthcare is not the local dimension.

    In fact, the reform act lays down the ground rules, but the exchanges will largely be managed at the state level. Not laying down the ground rules would lead to a race to the bottom, with all insurers flocking to the state with the most minimal regulations (this is the problem with the awful GOP policy of unregulated selling across borders – the Obama reform allows this, but regulates it). And as we all know, some of these regulations pertain to the treatment of abortion on the exchanges. It’s funny how the liberals relish federal involvement here, but not in other areas of insurance regulation (or the broader economy, for that matter).

    To conclude, I think this reform twins solidarity and subsidiarity. It expands coverage to 32 million people, prohibits some of the worst practices by inusurance companies, and regulates the quality and cost of packages. Of course, to square this circle, we need the individual mandate. This is what liberals oppose most, as it violates their hallowed sense of individual freedom. But it supports solidarity, as the healthy subsidize the sick (indirectly through the mandate, but also directly through subsidies). I find it quite telling that this is the aspect of reform that is attacked most on the right.

  • One more point: Joshua Mercer seems oblivious to the patterns of postwar Christian democracy, which in the economic sphere mirrored key aspects of social democracy. In other words, it accepted the legitimacy of the market, but social market. It called for strong social safety nets and a fair distribution of income. In one sense, the European social model derives from CST (think of Adenauer and Schuman).

    As a man called Joseph Ratzinger put it: “Democratic socialism managed to fit within the two existing models as a welcome counterweight to the radical liberal positions, which it developed and corrected…In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine, and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.”

    Today, one of the leading experts on CST is archbishop Marx of Munich – very close to the pope and tipped for a red hat at the November consistory. Marx is a vocal supporter of the welfare state and has spoken strongly against the kind of individualism which still holds sway in the United States.

  • Mark Noonan says:

    MM,

    I’d like to see a chapter and verse quote indicating that CST holds the provision of health care as a right. You can’t have a right to compel someone to do something for you, and I don’t think any orthodox Catholic thinker would get so intellectually sloppy as to make such an assertion. We do have a moral obligation to provide such health care as we can for the less fortunate, but that doesn’t translate in to a right for someone to obtain it.

    That aside, there is nothing inherently morally wrong with a welfare State. What has proven morally wrong – and economically disastrous – is a welfare system mandated by government. If we in our wealthier areas should choose to tax ourselves to provide a subsidy to our poorer areas, that is just fine and dandy…the error of the welfare State comes in with the erection of huge, central bureaucracies for the dispensing of the aid. All you get with that is waste and such dictates as we have had which essentially command the dissolution of the poor family, and the impregnation of young, unmarried women.

    If we wish to help, then we should help – pass a law mandating 10% of the government’s revenues be used to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, and then pass the money off to those subsidiary organizations which are already involved in doing it, and thus know the needs and situation of their charges. Its a billion dollars to Catholic Charities or a billion dollars to AFDC…which do you think will better ensure actual food gets in to the bellies of poor people?

    Smaller is better – and the whole American experiment has demonstrated conclusively that as long as small, local forces are in control, things will go well.

  • M.Z. says:

    But first We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.

    Pacem in Terris

  • Art Deco says:

    – pass a law mandating 10% of the government’s revenues be used to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, and then pass the money off to those subsidiary organizations which are already involved in doing it, and thus know the needs and situation of their charges. Its a billion dollars to Catholic Charities or a billion dollars to AFDC…which do you think will better ensure actual food gets in to the bellies of poor people?

    I do not think you want to go there, because the mission of the state or the mission of the philanthropic enterprise is bound to be distorted and disfigured by the incestuous relations between them. Better to avoid financial dependency and have the state and the charitable concern juxtaposed and occasionally co-operative but with each pursuing a distinct function.

    The error of the welfare State comes in with the erection of huge, central bureaucracies for the dispensing of the aid. you get with that is waste and such dictates as we have had which essentially command the dissolution of the poor family, and the impregnation of young, unmarried women.

    Just wish to point out that Social Security old age retirement and survivors’ benefits are comparatively large and distributed by the central government. The programs have low overhead and the characteristics thereof have had circumscribed ill effects on civil society. Although Aid to Families with Dependent Children was founded in the original Social Security Act, it was a state administered program and a good deal smaller than Social Security retirement. It offered dreadfully perverse incentives, but it was not until about 1958 that you had a critical mass of potential clients that would be moved by those incentives.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Ha, Pope John was just getting warmed up in the quoted section above:

    “12. Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.

    13. He has the natural right to share in the benefits of culture, and hence to receive a good general education, and a technical or professional training consistent with the degree of educational development in his own country. Furthermore, a system must be devised for affording gifted members of society the opportunity of engaging in more advanced studies, with a view to their occupying, as far as possible, positions of responsibility in society in keeping with their natural talent and acquired skill.”

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem_en.html

    Pope John was always pretty long on coming up with nice sounding aspirations, and rather short on practical suggestions as to how the aspirations could be realized or paid for.

  • Art Deco says:

    One more point: Joshua Mercer seems oblivious to the patterns of postwar Christian democracy, which in the economic sphere mirrored key aspects of social democracy.

    Among the patterns has been that Christian Democratic parties have imploded in a stew of corruption (Italy), or evaporated completely (France).

  • Eric Brown says:

    “Pope John was always pretty long on coming up with nice sounding aspirations, and rather short on practical suggestions as to how the aspirations could be realized or paid for.”

    Because as articulated elsewhere, the latter is the proper role of the laity, not the pope of Rome. We can be sure the Holy Father was aware we live in a fallen world, but his responsibility is to instruct the faithful as to the moral obligations they have despite its seeming impracticability in the world.

    On further reflection, one would note that living the Gospel appears to be impossible.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Because as articulated elsewhere, the latter is the proper role of the laity, not the pope of Rome.”

    Good point Eric. Christ knew what He, of course, was talking about when He mentioned rendering unto Caesar and unto God. The problem of course is when popes engage in laundry list formulations of what would constitute a just society, and then people treat them as policy guides for governments rather than the equivalent of a Pope saying, “It would be nice if…” That might be why almost all of Pope John’s predecessors were charier than him in speaking of rights in such a sweeping manner. To be fair, Pope John lived at a time when such statements were all the rage. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 is typical of the type, and actually is quite similar to what Pope John said about rights. Like the Pope, the UN gave no clue as to how the aspirations were to be implemented or paid for.
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    I do find this provision under Article 29 of the UN Declaration ironic:

    “•(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

  • Mark Noonan says:

    Art,

    Social Security has also played a role in the dissolution of the family – by giving people the idea that they are not responsible for their elders as they age. Any direct, government subsidy to an individual works out badly, in the long run. Government providing general aid to groups which provide a safety net would not, I think, cause the problems we’ve experienced with the welfare State.

  • Art Deco says:

    Social Security has also played a role in the dissolution of the family – by giving people the idea that they are not responsible for their elders as they age.

    I realize that income transfers of this sort do substitute for alternative means of caring for the beneficiaries, so their are losses as well as gains in their enactment. (The same effects apply in the operation of private pension and indemnity programs).

    The provision of income is only one component of what it means to care for the aged. I am going to wager you do not spend much time around my contemporaries if you fancy people have lost the sense that they are responsible for their parents. A great deal of space in our heads and our talk is occupied by the question of what to do in various contingencies.

  • Art Deco says:

    Government providing general aid to groups which provide a safety net would not, I think, cause the problems we’ve experienced with the welfare State

    You have two problems. Which of them would present itself is dependent on circumstance:

    1. The philanthropic agency would be annexed to the state and its mission compromised; or

    2. The agency annexes part of the state, with an elected official and organized lobby acting as patron. Rent-seeking behaviors are a chronic concern in contemporary political economy.

    Neither of these problems is manifest in income transfer problems like unemployment compensation or Social Security. Neither of these supports a social work apparat. People’s propensity to save recedes some and certain forms of collective action which protect people against the vicissitudes of life are rendered more infrequent. All of this is to say there is a trade-off involved in erecting income-transfer programs. The ill effects of Social Security (the loss of three generation families) are nowhere near the ferocious social pathology promoted by means-tested programs for the working-aged.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    “An encyclical is not dogma.”

    You know, Tito, that same argument is used by liberals who claim that the Church’s teaching on contraception is not dogma since it was first stated in an encyclical.

  • Art Deco says:

    You know, Tito, that same argument is used by liberals who claim that the Church’s teaching on contraception is not dogma since it was first stated in an encyclical.

    I take it you do not mean to say the Humanae Vitae was the first statement of the Church’s teaching on contraception, so which encyclical did you have in mind?

    Understanding what is meant by a practical implementation of Humanae Vitae is rather less of a challenge than making sense of the implications of the social encyclicals (though it will, I think, be of help in the consideration of alternatives if you do not confound the United States with the Herbert Spencer dreamworld).

  • Justin Aquila says:

    Tito you didn’t make the statement about subsidiarity, but about health care to which I would say the comparison is perfectly fair since the right to health care isn’t just mentioned in the encyclical Michael cited, but numerous other encyclicals, curial documents, and the CCC. My point was the liberals stake their claim against the Church’s teaching on contraception on Humanae Vitae not being dogma, but of course as Art Deco points out the Church’s prohibition of contraception appears in many other forms, same as the Church’s position on health care as a right (CCC 2211).

  • Justin Aquila says:

    I would agree health care does fall under the principle of subsidiarity, but its going to be pretty hard to argue from a theological standpoint that the Church has not determined the right to health care. This was my point above about prudential questions. The Church doesn’t how health care should be provided (thats prudential), rather they just say that their is a right to health care (non-negotiable).

    Saying “encyclicals are not dogma” is a particular pet peeve of mine, because it leads to the limiting of infallibility (i.e. its only infallible if stated ex cathedra). This is not the case, all of the Church’s teachings are infallible when held by the Bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome (CCC 2023 & 2036). William May treats this question very effectively in this his book “Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life.”

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Justin,

    CCC 2023 deals with Sanctifying Grace.

    CCC 2036 declares the authority of the Magisterium.

    When I find the “Right to Health Care” spoken in the beatitudes, or when a Ecumenical Council states it as so, then it is dogma.

    If we go by your line of thought, I have a right to living a comfortable life with a 30 inch flat screen, a BMW in the driveway, and a government provided monthly lump sum of $10,000 to ensure that I don’t suffer at all because of my right to health care.

    When this is fleshed out both in an encyclical and through the Magisterium, then there is a “right to health care”.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    Oops meant 2033. Both deal with the infallibility of the ENTIRE college of bishops on moral issues. I don’t think its tenable to hold that infallibility is limited to even ecumenical councils and ex cathedra pronouncements. First of all it implies that the teaching on contraception is not infallible among other things, contraception was never proclaimed ex cathedra or by an ecumenical council. Furthermore, if you limit all of morality to the Scriptures you are no different than the Protestants (there is no mention of abortion in the Beatitudes last time I checked.). The right to health care is not only mentioned in encyclicals (Pacem et Terris, as Michael quoted above, but also Evangelium Vitae, 12)it is also quoted in the CCC (2211).
    Perhaps this concession will help, no one is arguing that the current health care bill is Church teaching or the result of Church teaching. The mechanism of the bill is a prudential matter, but the right to health care is not. You can acknowledge the right without acknowledging the current health care law is a direct manifestation of that right.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Justin,

    The “right to medical care” is a bit different from the “right to health care”.

    As I understand it now, no one can be refused medical care at any hospital in the United States according to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986.

    Just to clarify CCC 2211, it prefaces the “right to medical care” with “in keeping with the country’s institutions”.

    What does that mean?

    Does EMTALA fulfill CCC 2211?

  • Justin Aquila says:

    For the tenth time, I am not arguing that the current health care law in America is endorsed 100% by Catholic Social Teaching, I am merely arguing that their is a right to health care.

    Please explain how medical care and health care are different?

    the line about “in keeping with the country’s institutions” is an important distinction. It of course opens up a whole other line of debate.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    FreeOnlineDictionary:

    Medical Care is the professional treatment for illness or injury.

    Health Care is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions.

    I am not saying that you claim the current health care law is endorsed by CST.

    There is a distinction between medical care and health care and the specifics can be argued endlessly.

    Until the Church clarifies what encompasses “medical care”, organizations such as the USCCB, which isn’t the Magisterium, can define it to be almost anything under the sun.

    I agree with you on all things, though we disagree on the “gray area” of what constitutes “medical care” and what constitutes “health care”.

    Words and symbols are very important to Catholics. So you and everyone else shouldn’t read anything into the language unless they match precisely.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    I accept your working distinction of medical vs. health care. Although the two are tied together it seems. Some conservatives have argued that providing health care significantly decreases the cost of medical care (but that is economic questions, not a moral one). Using your distinctions I would agree that there is no right to health care per se, but there is one to medical care.

    As far as the USCCB goes, their Magisterial authority is a more complicated question. Of course, if they speak in union with their fellow bishops and the bishop of Rome then what they are saying is indeed magisterial (for example, their position on abortion).

    I actually admired the USCCB’s approach on health care, they remained neutral, as they should on prudential questions of policy. They merely insisted that the bill protect conscience, have sufficient protection against taxpayer funding for abortion, and care for immigrants. This was an effective political strategy. By remaining neutral, like so many pro-life organizations, they were able to effectively focus on the greatest evils in the bill. I was working for the Susan B. Anthony List at the time of the health care bill and I was in meetings with USCCB representatives and I am convinced they pursued the correct approach on the health care bill, even though they and every other pro-life organization lost the battle. I know you and others on this blog disagree with this and you believed the bishops should have opposed the whole bill, but I don’t think that would have been as viable a strategy.

    I would just add in conclusion that the USCCB is funny organization. It is a hybrid between a lobbying organization and a national conference of bishops. National bishops conferences were mandated by Vatican II. Furthermore, the American bishops have had a long history of pastoral collaboration dating back to the Baltimore Councils in the early 1800′s (we wouldn’t have had the Baltimore Catechism or parochial schools if not for this collaboration). One could question the prudence of the bishops having a lobbying arm, but I don’t think its wise to eliminate the USCCB all together.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Yes, I am glad to have found that “medical care” is a right.

    Hence why I think EMTALA fulfills that.

    As for the USCCB, from down here at the parish level, it looked to me that the USCCB was pushing health care BIG TIME.

    I saw no neutrality whatsoever.

    It’s like saying that the United States remained “neutral” during WWII while at the same time engaging the Axis Powers in conventional and nuclear warfare.

    The USCCB did everything in their power to push socialized medicine down our throats the-death-of-babies-be-damned.

    Cardinal George personally intervened on the part of the health care legislation to break the arms of Republican representatives that were weary of voting for cloture because it was a smoke and mirrors game.

    Cardinal George is squarely responsible for his actions knowing full well it was a shell game to dupe the GOP in voting for it knowing that the pro-life clause had no chance of staying in the final version of the bill.

    He and Stupak should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    I hereby petition the Vatican to promulgate the First Ecumenical Council of Houston to eliminate the USCCB. That or retire many of the American bishops for their failure in feeding their sheep as Jesus commanded.

  • RL says:

    Tito, do we live in parallel universes? No doubt the bishops long supported health care reform of some sort. And Obamacare *could* have as pleased them (to the degree it seems to address many of their concerns – nevermind whether it will be effective or have disproportionate ill effects), but they were incredibly vocal in their opposition to the plan as constituted. Their opposition was so well known (and influential) that they were criticized by everyone on the left various orgs to politicians like Stupak to leftist and/or statist Catholics.

    IMO you’re being horribly unfair, and frankly, quite wrong.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    RL,

    Yes we do live in a parallel universe.

    The bishops opposed it once the pro-life provision was removed.

    As I recall they lobbied damn hard for ObamaCare. Just because the bishops supported health care reform for a long time doesn’t make it Catholic dogma.

    Enjoy Bizarro world.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    Tito, from my view in Washington at the time, it seemed like the USCCB held the same position as every other pro-life organization. In other words, you can fault the bishops, but you have to fault every other pro-life group too (with the exception of the American Life League).

  • RL says:

    I do enjoy Bizarro World. There’s nothing more bizarre, or adventurous, or spectactualr as reality.

    Tito: The USCCB did everything in their power to push socialized medicine down our throats the-death-of-babies-be-damned.

    RL: but they were incredibly vocal in their opposition to the plan as constituted.

    Tito: The bishops opposed it once the pro-life provision was removed.

    I can find no way to reconcile your two statements, but it could be that I lack a sense of nuance at times . I see my statement standing in contradiction to your first statement but I harmony with the second (due to living in Bizarro world probably).

    Tito: Cardinal George personally intervened on the part of the health care legislation to break the arms of Republican representatives that were weary of voting for cloture because it was a smoke and mirrors game.

    Cardinal George is squarely responsible for his actions knowing full well it was a shell game to dupe the GOP in voting for it knowing that the pro-life clause had no chance of staying in the final version of the bill.

    Really? How many GOPers were duped or arm twisted into supporting Obamacare by Cardinal George? Please name names. How many were duped into voting for it all? Seems these votes were close primarily because the GOP stuck together in opposition for the most part.

    Contrast that with condemnation that came from the leftist point of view where the bishops were accused of being GOP partisans or ignorant dupes for opposing the final version of Obamacare. One of you are right or both of you are wrong. I think you’re both wrong and I think my characterization above comports well to the published facts and stands to reason.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Justin,

    The pro-life groups were engaged in ensuring that no anti-life legislation made it through.

    The USCCB tried to serve to masters, their selfishness and God. God in trying to prevent anti-life legislation (which I found scant evidence for, but I’ll take your word for it) and in pushing their beloved Democratic talking points of government run health care.

    If that’s “neutrality”, then we as Catholics need to organize a Catholic Tea Party and put the spotlight on the horrible job the USCCB has done in serving their parishioners.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    From the point of view of an insider, there was talk of the Republicans voting against the Stupak amendment on the first health care vote in December in order that the entire bill might fail. But the pro-life groups threatened to campaign against any Republican who voted against the Stupak amendment. That was the pro-life groups not the USCCB.

    What you have to understand is that you have a difference of opinion on strategy. If you can’t see this its not worth continuing the discussion.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Justin,

    I’m on the board of directors for a major pro-life organization here in Houston. Not to mention that I am also heavily involved with the other two pro-life organizations (yes, there are three here in Houston).

    Not once did I hear of anything from our Washington that pro-life groups were going to aggressively campaign against any Republican that would vote against the Stupak amendment.

    I do see the difference in strategy and I don’t understand why you are becoming obtuse with me when I thought we were having a meaningful dialogue.

    I learned that medical care is a right.

    I also learned that lobbyists in Washington see the world differently from those of us that are on the ground-level here in Houston.

    There’s no need to be snarky.

  • Justin Aquila says:

    It’s frustrating when you know something to be true because you were there and you can’t get someone to believe you. I was the legislative director for the Susan B. Anthony List, we had a seat at every strategy session. Even after I left the organization I still got updates from my co-workers on the insider talks. The SBA List, National Right to Life, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, the USCCB, and several other organizations were in on this. The people who work for these organizations are some of the best people I know, they are smart, passionate, prudent, and committed. I think they pursued the right strategy and they would have succeeded had the Stupak coalition not fallen apart (btw, I think its unfair to blame Stupak alone, he lost his coalition before he caved.). All in all its important to remember that elections have consequences. The Republicans were almost doomed from the get go, its incredible they were able to water down the bill at all. It doesn’t seem productive to me to play the blame game when the odds were so severely stacked against the pro-life movement. Seems to me the USCCB is doing a great job of keeping Obama and Co. honest re the executive order (just read DiNardo’s statements). I also think the other pro-life groups are committed to turning out the vote this November.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Yes, pro-life groups weren’t excited in supporting the Stupak amendment knowing full well that there was a very high likelihood that the language would have been stripped.

    I believe you Justin.

    I personally was not supportive of the strategy because I had a strong feeling it would never make it through the Senate.

    We debated it passionately down here in Houston and I was out-voted.

    Stupak is not wholly to blame.

    He should have stood his ground for the simple fact that he was defending human life. Instead he went for worldly love instead of Christian conviction.

    He certainly deserves a lot of the blame. But it is also being spread out to the other traitors that caved in.

    And those Pro-Life Dems that did vote for the baby killing compromise are traitors, I don’t care who they are.

    It’s a difficult subject, but in the end we all lose because the USCCB pushed hard for health care while trying to oppose anti-life legislation.

    If only the bishops themselves, rather than the USCCB, worked just as hard in their own dioceses in properly catechizing parishioners and being at the forefront of pro-life activities, abortion would be banned easily within our lifetimes.

    Instead many of them cower behind the shield of the USCCB to disguise their desires to push the Democratic Party’s agenda instead of a Catholic agenda.

    I’m with you on this one Justin.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    RL,

    I can find no way to reconcile your two statements, but it could be that I lack a sense of nuance at times . I see my statement standing in contradiction to your first statement but I harmony with the second (due to living in Bizarro world probably).

    I’m so glad that I am not overburdened with multiple graduate degrees to write such a statement as yours that you utterly rendered it incomprehensible.

    I’m an average American rube. If you want to play word games go join John Kerry’s Scrabble Club for French-looking Superior Intellects.

    I’ll name you two big names.

    Francis Cardinal George and Representative Boehner.

    From the dissident Catholic mag America Magazine.

    Cardinal George phoned Boehner and told him he better vote for the House version of the bill.

    Never once have I heard the president of the USCCB, nor residing ordinary ever call any politician and tell them they better vote pro-life.

    But when it comes to pushing the Democratic agenda, Cardinal George did not hesitate to twist some arms.

  • RL says:

    Heh. I expected the your contradictory statements to be chalked up to nuance. At least they would have been acknowledged that way.

    I also don’t think that America article says what you think it says about Cardinal George’s call to Boehner, nor does Boehner’s actions jibe with your characterization. Had I been a member of congress I too would have voted for the Stupak amendment even if I was ultimately going to continue to oppose Obamacare. That way if I were to lose, at least I did something to make it less deadly.

    Also of note in that article is this paragraph:
    Yet the bishops’ ultimatum to lawmakers—“If the final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill”—succeeded only after legislators prepared an amendment that secured votes, and after Speaker Pelosi allowed the amendment on the floor once she saw there were too few votes to pass the bill without it.

    The bishops stayed true to their principles and opposed the bill once the Stupak language was removed.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    RL,

    I don’t disagree that the bishops oppossed the anti-life wording of the bill.

    Maybe you misread me, but what I didn’t like was that the bishops aggressively pushed for health care reform.

    It wouldn’t have bothered me if they did, just so long as they do the same with even more important issues, such as abolition abortion, which they don’t.

    But they did do all they could to ram socialized medicine (without abortion) down our throats, which I don’t appreciate.

    If they opposed it, which they should have, the health care bill would have had a much more difficult time in passing. Hence why they are partly responsible for pushing this anti-life legislation.

    The bishops stayed true to their Democratic Party principles, that I don’t deny.

    As to your nuance comments, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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