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What the Church means by subsidiarity is misrepresented by conservative media

Father began his homily on the Eighteenth Sunday for Ordinary Time by relating how Jesus lived at the time Rome was in control and established a puppet ruler in the person of King Herod. He correctly related how Rome was much like the United States in relations to foreign policy. Our Ambassadors and soldiers do not first learn the language before going to foreign nations. Like Rome, so long as the goods of foreign nations keep coming, we do not care how foreign rulers govern their countries.

Southern border crisis-slide0
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Labor unions are the long term solution to our southern border crisis
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Herod could kill the first born as St. Matthew relates in his nativity. According to Luke 13, Pilate could kill thousands, so long as, as ruler, he kept the goods going back to Rome. Things have not changed much in two millennia. Father then began discussing the crisis at our southern border. Tens of thousands strive to enter our nation from the south, looking for a better future. Father then made the mistake of attacking the president’s plan of refugee camps to house these people. He did correctly relate how, if we do nothing but house these people in these camps, we create a ghetto, and accomplish nothing else. This will result in developing a society within our society of angry young men and perpetuate our crisis at our southern border.

Father set his argument upon the foundation of “subsidiary.” This function is listed in the text, “Quadragesimo Anno, section 80, “The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts greatly.” In essence, “He who governs least, governs best.”

The essence of the problem with this approach is first seen when we look at the Hebrew Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, and Jesus’ Great Commandment. “Hear you who struggle with God, God/Israel, God is Almighty, God is One. Love God with all your hearts, all your animate being, and all you measure.” The two key words are “Israel,” and “all.” Israel refers to us as Christians in that we are those who struggle to understand God and what he wants in our lives. It also refers to the Jewish State, a nation, a collected group of people. We love God as individuals, and as a nation. To govern least, is still to govern.

Father laid out his view that we do have a function as a nation, and it relates to the New Colossus on the Statue of liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free.” We have an obligation before Almighty God to do something about the refugees on the border, other than send them back home. He is correct on this point.

Father believes private charity should take up the cause. Catholics only give 2% of their income to charity. Our Parish has a hard time funding its own programs, much less taking up the billions of dollars required to care for this humanitarian crisis. We cannot assume other private charities are in any better shape. They would be taking funding from one humanitarian crisis, the hurricane crisis of the Philippines, the Jamaican earthquake, the man created crisis of Bangladesh, with building falling upon people, and divert the funding to Mexico. When the next humanitarian crisis hit, funding would be diverted from Mexico, to the next crisis.

Father discussed how private charities are building up for the humanitarian crisis. The crisis is before us now. We need action now. Private charity is a great intermediate solution being asked to cover a short, intermediate and long term crisis. This crisis will not go away in days, weeks, months, years, or even decades. It took generations to create, and it will take generations to cure. Private charity is not set up for this type of crisis.

It relates to the crisis on our southern border, relates to the fact that the US has 5% of the world’s population, uses 60% of is illicit drugs, and has 50% of its guns. These guns are ending up in the hands of the drug lords south of the border.

In the short term, there is only one group quick enough to put feet on the ground capable of dealing with this humanitarian crisis, and that is the US military. Also, in a fight between the drug lords and the Marines, who are you putting your money on? In a fight between the drug lords and Catholic Charities, who do you think would win. The short term solution is the US military, and nobody else.

The ideal would then be for the US military, in the principle of subsidiarity, to hand off its camps to private charities. They could then run the camps until a long term solution comes along. What is this long term solution? We find it in the same place in Quadragesimo Anno, the same section we find subsidiarity. Section 83 states:

Complete cure will not come until opposition has been abolished and well-ordered members of the social body - Industries and Professions - are constituted in which men may have their place, not according to the position each has in the labor market but according to the respective social functions which each performs.

Under nature's guidance it comes to pass that just as those who are joined together by nearness of habitation establish towns, so those who follow the same industry or profession, whether in the economic or other field - form guilds or association…”

The solution is to bring in the best teachers for these children, give them the best education, and when they become adults, to have them join, guilds, unions. These guilds should have professional and civic standards they go by, and training in those standards. Following the principles laid out in Quadragesimo Anno, these need to be closed shop guilds. This means repeal of the evil, Taft/Hartley.

These guilds should also have their own judiciary, such that members can be expelled for violating professional and civic standards. This would be the first effective program to stop bullying in our work places, a situation in which the US is now dead last in the industrial world.

We also need to address the 50% of guns being owned by Americans. We need effective gun control.

Quadragesimo Anno is correct. If we set up these guilds, and if we follow the principle of guild system, where workers start as novice, and end up as Master Craftsmen. This brings us to another great principle, from Torah:

If your kin, a Hebrew man or woman, sells himself or herself to you, he or she is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year you shall release him or her as a free person. When you release a male from your service, as a free person, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You will weigh him down with gifts from your flock and threshing floor and wine press; as the NAME, your God, has blessed you, so you shall give to him. Remember that you too were slaves in the land of Oppression, and the NAME, your God, redeemed you.”

As it relates to our discussion, this means when the Master Craftsmen returns home we set him up in his own business in the land of his birth. We work to rebuild those societies from the bottom up. We do create competitors for our goods, but we also create customers for our goods. It becomes a win/win for all. We must have this long term solution, or we continue to move from crisis to crisis, as we have done for the past 30 years. Father missed this in his homily. To solve the problem, we must start to care about Palestine/unlike the Romans. We must do something about Herod and Pilate, or the problem continues. The long term solution is just that simple. That is what Quadragesimo Anno means by subsidiarity.

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