Ah, charity, that greatest of cardinal virtues. It is by this virtue that a bond is formed between all members of the human society. This virtue enables us to love one another as God so loves us. As an expression of this love we dutifully help our fellow man with basic necessities. We do this because we love our fellow man as members of human society and so we want to do this.
As I have stated in previous blogs, true charity is not found in the mandates of government welfare programs. The very nature of these programs forces them to obtain funding through taxation. And so because funding for these programs is forced through taxation, people are helping their fellow man not out of charity and love, but because they are forced to through government mandates.
And thus it is with great sadness that I see an increasing number of my fellow Catholics who have forsaken or who simply have not been taught in the first place the most basic principles of charity, and its relationship to the principle of subsidiarity. By voting for drastic increases in government welfare spending such as those found in the health care bill, such Catholics are displaying a growing and open defiance of these basic principles.
The principle of subsidiarity, as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states:
“A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view of the common good.” – Paragraph 1883 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
With government welfare programs, the government (the community of higher order) is directly interfering in the internal affairs of the individual (the community of lower order) by robbing him of the freedom to choose whether or not to help someone and interfering in the individual’s monetary affairs. This is in direct opposition to what the role of government should be, which is an authority that facilitates and co-ordinates commerce with respect to the common good and to freedom. In the case of help for the poor, the government instead should seek to not put out welfare programs funded through taxation, but instead should facilitate charity through the private non-profit entities whose business it is to help those who are in need of help. This prohibition against the “nanny state” and activities by the government that lead up to it (the gradual but steady expansion of government welfare spending) is given in paragraph 1885 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:
“The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.”
Thus do Catholics who vote for people who seek only to expand the welfare state, including this health care bill, do so in direct opposition to Church teaching. Church teaching in this matter is very clear that because of the principle of subsidiarity, charity must be a free will gift from the heart of one’s own time, talent, and/or treasure and should be geared towards helping the needy become self-sufficient and productive members of society. And such a free will gift is not found in government mandates through welfare programs funded through taxation.