Subsidiarity in Politics

Tom Woods endorses Ron Paul in the video below. Additionally, this is an excellent video on how Catholics can approach American politics without compromising their Catholic principles. I don’t think enough Catholics understand, or have even heard of, the Catholic concept of subsidiarity; I didn’t even know what it was prior to this video.

Origin according to Wikipedia: The word subsidiarity is derived from the Latin word subsidiarius and was first described formally in Catholic social teaching .[1] The concept or principle is found in several constitutions around the world (for example, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which asserts States rights and further, the rights of the people).


6 thoughts on “Subsidiarity in Politics

  1. Before you get too enthralled with this idea that economic libertarianism is acceptable from an orthodox Catholic social doctrine worldview- please read this book in it’s entirety- and recall that Pope Benedict in his last social encyclical advises us to set ourselves free from ideologies which always oversimplify and reduce reality down in ways that are artificial. If you want a comprehensively Catholic worldview on the socio-political front you have to read the authoritative (Archbishop Chaput personally replied to my query and affirmed this) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- especially read the chapters of economics and political authority to see how striking the difference is between Catholic and libertarian thinking.

    • Paul is not a Catholic who holds to the principle of subsidiarity, and I don’t think most Catholics who support him (myself included) have any illusions about this. Paul wouldn’t oppose regulation at lower levels because he subordinates his brand of libertarianism to what is allowed in the constitution, which gives the states their rights.

      Now given our current political situation, I’d argue that it is better to curtail the influence of our leaders because they do more harm than good. (The liberal tactics at play with this HHS mandate nonsense, for instance.) Since common good arguments are predicated upon the necessity that the state teaches what is morally right in its laws, I feel compelled to say that the state should have the least possible amount of power in today’s world. I have a feeling (from the Aquinas I’ve read concerning laws) that the medieval mind didn’t consider the possibility of bad leaders.Thank goodness adults have other outlets available to them than what is promoted by the state- if it was the government’s job to influence my morality, then I wouldn’t be a practicing Catholic today.

      • I would be (pleasantly) surprised if Ron Paul even knew what Catholic subsidiarity was. However, he’s one of the few politicians whose views seem even remotely in line with the principle and the only candidate I’ve heard talk about the need to change the culture in order to change abortion laws (implicit of JPII’s Culture of Life). Maybe Santorum has but he seems much more intent on bypassing all lower levels of society and mandating abortion laws at the highest level possible demonstrating an “at all costs” mindset that, considering the appalling state of our political system at present, I find disturbing.

        Anyway, thank you for adding your 2 cents. I’m still learning a great deal about my faith and how to apply it to our political system (my recent knowledge of subsidiarity being a perfect example) so I really appreciate insightful feedback from fellow Catholics such as your comment above.

  2. Tim, I’m in no way suggesting that we leave the less fortunate, the poor and the sick, to fend for themselves. We are all obligated to promote the common good and help our fellow man. What I like about Tom Wood’s comments is his recognition of the dire state of the nation and the folly of giving more power to the same ruling elite that gave us abortion-on-demand and endless unjust warfare in the first place. I believe that, given these circumstances, promoting the common good and standing up for the weak means limiting our government and returning power to the millions of American citizens instead of consolidating it among the 500+ federal legislators and their special-interest lobbyists.

  3. Kudos on an extremely well-written blog, which I’m bookmarking.
    Not a fan of the scorn-bloggers, because I believe that vitriol never converted anyone, but your calm and reasonable tone will, I hope, attract many interested in the purpose of your work.
    If I may- one small thing. I may have missed the links, but using un-sourced graphs detracts from the credibility of your otherwise excellent site.
    Many thanks for the effort you’ve put into this.

    • Thanks for the comment. And I admit I’m not as rigorous with citing my sources as I should be; I’ll try to avoid that oversight in the future.

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