Summary: Social problems must be solved on the most local level possible, just as Jesus did, but in solidarity with the community.

March 22 2010

Caritas in Veritate

Jesus bore witness to the Truth, because He is the Truth. Moreover, the Father bore witness to Jesus’s authenticity, through the miracles and through the divine voice that occasionally made itself heard at critical moments. So when Jesus came into conflict with the separatist Jewish authorities, just as when Susanna had come into mortal combat with the corrupt officials, he had the advantage of knowing he was right, but also of knowing what the ultimate price of the Truth would be. Susanna was saved by divine intervention. Jesus, however, was the divine intervention that saved us from sin. And he saved us precisely by losing the human battle and his human life, so that he could take up his own risen life again, and we could participate in his death and rising.

Authority must be organized in a subsidiary and stratified way, as the Pope tells us, or it will either be ineffective or infringe on human freedom. Subsidiarity is one of the key principles of Catholic social doctrine. A government must allow the solution of social and justice problem on the most local level possible. But subsidiarity must operate in linkage with solidarity. Without solidarity with the broader community, subsidiarity becomes social privatism. Without subsidiarity, solidarity turns into a kind of paternalistic socialism that demeans those who are assisted precisely because it dehumanizes them. I think ultimately that this is the reason we fight government-run health care. It is depersonalizing and dehumanizing. The pope reminds us that the most valuable resources in countries that get development aid are their own human resources. This is the real capital that needs to accumulate in order to guarantee underdeveloped countries a truly autonomous and humane future. The primary purpose of foreign aid is not to enable developing countries to buy our cars and weapons. It should be to enter into all kinds of cross-cultural relationships with them, so that both donor and recipient can be made more human, more wealthy in totality.

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