The current healthcare debate has been on my mind for some time now. Unfortunately I have not had the time (or more correctly, I have not taken the time) to sit down and write anything for this blog concerning my thoughts on this issue. And honestly, I prefer not to use this blog as a “current events” forum…even if that current event pertains directly to an important moral issue like healthcare and more broadly, social justice. I’m not interested here in picking apart specific pieces of legislation or commenting on the political winds that blow this way or that. This site is not specifically a “political” blog…although I do, from time to time, address political happenings.
When I do refer to politics or current events, I usually try to relate the issue to a broader theme and focus on that “theme” rather than an analysis of the particular event. With that in mind, I intend to write some posts on the larger issue of Social Justice, and when I do I will certainly take into account the political debate between conservatives and liberals on the role of government, the dignity of the human person, and other pertinent subjects.
Until that time, I wanted to post a link to an article I found at a website called Catholic Exchange, regarding the Social Justice concept subsidiarity and how it relates to the current healthcare “reform” legislation pending in Congress. As the article explains:
“In a nutshell, the principal of subsidiarity states that matters impacting the human person should be addressed by the smallest, least centralized, most localized, competent personal authority possible. The opposite situation is realized when personal affairs are managed by larger; more centralized and detached public authorities.”
Obviously this simple truth flies in the face of the “big government” bureaucratic solutions so often touted by liberal Catholics who argue that Social Justice demands a top-down solution to social ills. But as the article further states, official Catholic sources warn against such statist approaches to meeting people’s needs:
“Citizens, for their part, either individually or collectively, must be careful not to attribute excessive power to public authority, not to make exaggerated and untimely demands upon it in their own interests, lessening in this way the responsible role of persons, families and social groups.” (Gaudium et Spes - 75)
And as Pope John Paul II warned:
"Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (Centesimus Annus - 48)
Obviously, much more could be said on this issue, and I intend to write more some time in the new year. For now, I recommend reading this entire article as it reflects my own understanding of this important topic.