Friday, March 16, 2012

Subsidiarity and Cooperation

Here is another post I really enjoyed from Catholic Moral Theology.

The principle of subsidiarity may be among the most controversial topics of the doctrine of Catholic Social Teaching because it is often used by both the left and the right to justify either small government or big government.

I prefer Meghan Clark's interpretation, that it is a two-sided coin. We need a system of governance that allows for the common good with multiple levels of institutions and associations working together for that common good. We cannot rely only on big government, nor can we rely only on small government. It is clear that there are proper functions belonging to each, but that most functions necessary for the common good require cooperation from all levels--individuals, families, local governments and private associations all the way to national government and international associations.

Here is Meghan's full article: Subsidiarity is a Two-sided Coin

Here are some highlights:
As a Catholic moral theologian, I must confess that the principle of subsidiarity is perhaps one of the most crucial and most misunderstood in Catholic social teaching. According to the principle of subsidiarity, decisions should be made at the lowest level possible and the highest level necessary. Subsidiarity is crucial because it has applications in just about every aspect of moral life. In medical ethics, subsidiarity helps guide decision-making. In social ethics, subsidiarity helps us prudentially judge not only decision-making but allocation of resources. Subsidiarity is an effort at balancing the many necessary levels of society – and at its best, the principle of subsidiarity navigates the allocation of resources by higher levels of society to support engagement and decision making by the lower levels. Despite how often it is stated – subsidiarity does NOT mean smaller is better.

Fishy Fridays

I came across this blogpost at Catholic Moral Theology today and thought it was worth sharing.

Full post by Jason King here: Fishy Fridays

When I was in graduate school, I made the off hand comment to my roommate about how McDonald’s runs Filet-o-Fish specials every year during Lent. My roommate, a life long Methodist, was totally surprised by this revelation. He had never noticed it. (He recently used this tidbit to amaze his high school students by predicting an upcoming Filet-O-Fish special.)

This year I have noticed that even more places have taken to fish during Lent. My grocery store was the first place I noticed this phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

'Rule' for a Good Life

I have had the good fortune of a strong Benedictine influence in my life. I have a Benedictine education and spent a few summers at St. Meinrad Archabbey learning from and making friends with people who have dedicated themselves to live by St. Benedict's teaching.

The Rule of St. Benedict offers a great guide for a monastic way of life, but its applicability reaches far into our own lives. In particular the prologue and chapter 4 offer us teachings or 'tools for good works' to live Catholic Social Teaching in our everyday life.

Here are some of the teachings of St. Benedict that if we take to heart and practice frequently will make for a happier life not only for us but those we encounter on our journey:
P.4 - First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to Him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.

P.17 - If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim.

4.11-13 - Discipline you body, do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.

4.14-19 - You must relieve the lot of the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and bury the dead. Go to help the troubled and console the sorrowing.

4.20-21 - Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else;

4.22-26 - You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid you heart of all deceit; Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pope Quotes 3-7-12

This is the second installment of my series entitled "Pope Quotes".

In commemorating Populorum Progressio, Pope John Paul II re-emphasized the concept of authentic human development as consisting of more than economic well-being or technological gain and that over-emphasized the 'economic' can lead to a society of consumerism which I think is still very prevalent today. He also distinguished "having" from "being" by reminding us that "having" must be directed toward and subordinated to "being" and that the reversal of these inhibits our development and leads quickly to dissatisfaction:

At the same time, however, the "economic" concept itself, linked to the word development, has entered into crisis. In fact there is a better understanding today that the mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority, is not enough for the realization of human happiness. Nor, in consequence, does the availability of the many real benefits provided in recent times by science and technology, including the computer sciences, bring freedom from every form of slavery. On the contrary, the experience of recent years shows that unless all the considerable body of resources and potential at man's disposal is guided by a moral understanding and by an orientation towards the true good of the human race, it easily turns against man to oppress him.

A disconcerting conclusion about the most recent period should serve to enlighten us: side-by-side with the miseries of underdevelopment, themselves unacceptable, we find ourselves up against a form of superdevelopment, equally inadmissible, because like the former it is contrary to what is good and to true happiness.

This super-development, which consists in an excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of "possession" and of immediate gratification, with no other horizon than the multiplication or continual replacement of the things already owned with others still better. This is the so-called civilization of "consumption" or " consumerism ," which involves so much "throwing-away" and "waste." An object already owned but now superseded by something better is discarded, with no thought of its possible lasting value in itself, nor of some other human being who is poorer.

All of us experience firsthand the sad effects of this blind submission to pure consumerism: in the first place a crass materialism, and at the same time a radical dissatisfaction, because one quickly learns that the more one possesses the more one wants, while deeper aspirations remain unsatisfied and perhaps even stifled.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pope Quotes 3-1-12

I have been as busy as ever, so I apologize for little posting lately. I also feel I have tended to emphasize economics more than Catholic Social Teaching lately, so strapped for time and desiring to spread the Church's teaching on economics and other social issues I decided to start a new series called "Pope Quotes". I hope you find the series informative and helpful!

On food shortages or famine, as has been occurring in East Africa and happens elsewhere around the world even outside of weather/climate-induced famines:
"Life in many poor countries is still extremely insecure as a consequence of food shortages, and the situation could become worse: hunger still reaps enormous numbers of victims among those who, like Lazarus, are not permitted to take their place at the rich man's table, contrary to the hopes expressed by Paul VI. Feed the hungry (cf. Mt 25: 35, 37, 42) is an ethical imperative for the universal Church, as she responds to the teachings of her Founder, the Lord Jesus, concerning solidarity and the sharing of goods. Moreover, the elimination of world hunger has also, in the global era, become a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet.

Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things as on shortage of social resources, the most important of which are institutional. What is missing, in other words, is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water for nutritional needs, and also capable of addressing the primary needs and necessities ensuing from genuine food crises, whether due to natural causes or political irresponsibility, nationally and internationally." -- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, pp. 27 (emphasis added)

On inequality and protection of the working class for the good of society:
"But although all citizens, without exception, can and ought to contribute to that common good in which individuals share so advantageously to themselves, yet it should not be supposed that all can contribute in the like way and to the same extent. No matter what changes may occur in forms of government, there will ever be differences and inequalities of condition in the State. Society cannot exist or be conceived of without them... We have insisted, it is true, that, since the end of society is to make men better, the chief good that society can possess is virtue. Nevertheless, it is the business of a well-constituted body politic to see to the provision of those material and external helps 'the use of which is necessary to virtuous action.'"