A lot has been and still could be said about the principal of subsidiarity.
Dictionary.com defines ‘subsidiarity’ this way:
“(in the Roman Catholic Church) a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over.”
I like that and we’ll roll with it for our short treatment today on the principal of subsidiarity.
EVIDENCE OF EROSION
I don’t think you need me to point out to you that the moral character of this nation is being undone at a quickening rate.
Folks with traditional, Judeo-Christian values see this culture diverging into a nightmare scenario. Those who value liberal ideals, on the other hand, are rejoicing.
Examples of the principle of subsidiarity being forgotten in this society abound. We can point to the millions of people living off welfare. Sure, government assistance from time to time or for a small demographic of folks would be understandable. However, a society subsidizing the well-being of a tremendous percentage of its population means the government policies are broken.
Liberals celebrate this. The more people on the government dole, the greater the need for government. There is hardly an aspect of your personal life the Left doesn’t want to control.
We could point out other examples, but let us go a bit more in depth on the education of children.
PARENTS NO LONGER THE PRIMARY EDUCATORS
As I have written about in the past, parents remain the primary educators of their children. This remains in accord with the Natural Law. And it satisfies the principal of subsidiarity.
When a baby is born at the hospital, a birth certificate is filled in. The father’s name and the mother’s name are recorded. The government then keeps record of that child. The people held accountable for the well-being of that child primarily, obviously, remains those parents.
If the parents split, the mother usually gets awarded custody and the father is expected to pay child support. Our system mirrors the Natural Law in these regards admirably.
Yet, the Left has seen to it to undermine the parents’ duty to be the primary educators of their children. The Left does this in at least three ways.
First, the government threatens imprisonment or other punishments for parents who do not ensure their children receive an education. While it is in accord with the Natural Law that parents do have an obligation to have their children educated, the government can overstep its bounds.
For instance, there is a growing disdain among the cultural elites toward homeschooling. Thus, more and more, the government is cracking down on parents who do not provide their children with government-sponsored course material (read indoctrination).
Second, the government in this country offers “free” public school education—paid for by your tax dollars, of course. Yes, in principle it is good that a cheap option is made available to parents who cannot provide education on their own. The downside to this, among other things, remains the sheer volume of children subject to a system going corrupt.
Third, this all leads us to the third problem: the indoctrination of children in the modern, public school system. Parents who send their children to the public school system are subjecting their children to some or all of the following:
No prayer in schools
Little tolerance for Christian beliefs
Belittling of the Bible, if it is mentioned at all
Abhorrence for belief in Creationism
Morally bankrupt sex education
An erosion of traditional family values
And the list could go on from there.
THE PRINCIPAL OF SUBSIDIARITY LIES IN UPHOLDING THE TRADITIONAL FAMILY
The solution to a government drunk on power is the principal of subsidiarity.
Pope Saint John Paul II wrote an apostolic exhortation in 1981, titled Familiaris Consortio. It is worth the read. For our purposes we will focus on section 44, taking excerpts.
Notice how the late Holy Father upholds the principal of subsidiarity in his appeal. Notice too he holds up the family as the stabilizing force in society. The Polish Pontiff writes what follows.
“The social role of the family certainly cannot stop short at procreation and education, even if this constitutes its primary and irreplaceable form of expression.
“Families therefore, either singly or in association, can and should devote themselves to manifold social service activities, especially in favor of the poor, or at any rate for the benefit of all people and situations that cannot be reached by the public authorities’ welfare organization…
“The social role of families is called upon to find expression also in the form of political intervention: families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family.
“Along these lines, families should grow in awareness of being ‘protagonists’ of what is known as ‘family politics’ and assume responsibility for transforming society; otherwise families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference. The Second Vatican Council’s appeal to go beyond an individualistic ethic therefore also holds good for the family as such” (emphasis added).
Our society needs to stop looking to the government for all the answers. We need to take seriously this principle of subsidiarity and reclaim the culture for traditional values.
We can start by taking seriously the grave duty we have as parents for the education of our children. If only more parents rallied together and demanded change from the status quo in our culture. Then we would not only limit the influence and power of the government, but we would be reclaiming our God-given duty to educate our children in God-honoring ways.
What are your thoughts on the principle of subsidiarity?
Do you have other examples of it being ignored in our culture?
What can we do to restore it?
Please leave your thoughts in a comment below.