Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.

"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.

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