Last week, in my Sunday School class, the substitute teacher argued that those who linked “liberation theology” with communism were wealthy landowners hoping to tar legitimate complaints of the poor with that brush. The sermon quoted Fr. Martin: “Congressman Ryan – or any of us – can say of a budget plan that slashes supplemental funding for basic economic needs to those in poverty, that it’s a Democrat plan or Republican plan, but no one can ever say that a plan with such likely repercussions is consistent with Church teaching or is a plan Jesus would endorse or approve.” Clearly, that church voice agrees with the letter from some of the Georgetown faculty.
To my mind, Ryan has the better argument. For one thing, he is more descriptive than self-righteous. In both speech and questions, Ryan respects human dignity & human nature – why subsidiarity works. More importantly, he is honest: productivity of all helps all, free lunches aren’t really free, and we have taken from our children to make our lives easy. Implicit is a sense few acts have more questionable ethics than forcing charitable contributions from others or infantilizing those we help.
Ryan’s argument is likely to be reinforced if we return to a study of human nature – one that our forefathers disciplined themselves with but which seemed lost in a twentieth century influenced by thinking of the kind that influenced liberation theology. The principle of subsidiarity resembles libertarianism but tempered by charity can guide policies that encourage us to do our best and discourage us from doing our worst, that encourage empathy and discourage apathy, encourage generosity and discourage hoarding. (Althouse comments and links to NPR’s story.)
The politically correct church of the United States may express establishment thinking, but, more’s the pity.