Ryan & Subsidiarity

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.

9 thoughts on “Ryan & Subsidiarity”

  1. The point of what Ryan is trying to teach us is that the money is running out. All the good intentions in the world (and I don’t credit the political left with good intentions), will not produce the money to pay all the bills the do-gooders are running up. We may be sad at the plight of the poor. Jesus would take them in for a meal or two. As I recall from my catechism class, he went out into the country side and invited the poor that he found there for dinner. George Clooney seems to prefer rich people who can pay $35,000 a plate for dinner.

    The people who pushed liberation theology seemed to prefer communists as the rulers. As one of Malachi Martin’s novels put it (I consider most of them as a roman a clef about his time in Rome. His statement about Paul VI, the favorite Pope of the liberation theologists, is that “The smoke of Satan surrounds the chair of Peter.” Paul VI was the Mafia cardinal of Milan. His successor John Paul I may have been murdered by the KGB. Martin thinks so. They certainly tried to do the same to John Paul II.

    Margaret Thatcher put it best with her comment about socialism running out of other people’s money.

  2. Well, I think we can say that arguments not begun with facts are likely to win in the long run only through force. The most efficient, productive, and sympathetic charity is likely to begin at home and there’s no free lunch. Arguments that deny these two aren’t likely to help anyone but the middleman who gets a take from theories of non-subsidiarity and those who, like one of my old acquaintances, are in the habit of kiting checks.

  3. As Michael says, the money is running out. The only hope the poor have is to expand the economy – by shrinking the government – and invite them to participate.

    I took my car club to the Empire Mine today – in Grass Valley CA – the longest opened gold mine in the state. It ran for over 100 years, closing in 1957 (and 80% of the gold is still in there!)

    Point is I was talking to a docent – and he said that one mine owner in the area has been trying to reopen his mine – with the price of gold – and he has been sending applying for 10 years – and expects – in this state – for it to take another 10 years before he can reopen it.

    Think of the employment that mine would generate –

  4. “I took my car club to the Empire Mine today – in Grass Valley CA – the longest opened gold mine in the state. It ran for over 100 years, closing in 1957 (and 80% of the gold is still in there!)”

    In the spring of 1960, my wife-to-be and her parents and some friends went to Panamint City, in the mountains over Death Valley. At that time, the ghost towns of the desert had not yet been dragged to Knotts Berry Farm. We camped out at a spring below the city, which is now a ghost town. The canyon is narrow and the smelters used to cast the silver into huge ingots too heavy for robbers to drag away.

    There were still a few people living up there in those days, most of whom owned uranium mines they were guarding. I wonder if the mining has ever recovered. California is not interested in mining, only scenic views, so I doubt it.

  5. Liberation theology can be reduced to “I want something, and Jesus expects you to pay for it.” It’s not surprising to hear it repeated in American churches these days. It’s a reflection of the massive level of corruption in most mainstream American churches. It pretty much summarizes what the churches are about: leftist, narcissistic, and off-topic.

  6. First of all, shame on your Sunday school teacher. There is blood on those hands. The quasi-feudalistic landowners of Latin America can be dethroned by capitalism much more thoroughly by capitalism than by liberation theology which absolutely has links to communism which is why you saw John Paul II chastise those who stepped over the line.

    As for the sermon, your priest was not so wrong. he merely quoted a foolish Jesuit who does not seem to understand that there is a job to ensure that the money spent is spent well and the job of how much money is spent is split in two in our form of government and Congressman Ryan is only in charge of the latter and his budget plan is only dealing with the latter problem.

    We have enormous waste in our poverty programs because we think that assigning a certain amount of money to cure poverty actually means that this amount of money is actually spent on curing poverty. It is not. A great deal of it is spent on other things. If we were to just take our poverty budget and cut all the poor a check, they would all be middle class in terms of income in an instant. Taxing the working poor so that the non-working poor can become richer than the working poor would be unjust. Taxing the working poor so that middle class poverty program administrators maintain their standard of living is likewise unjust. Jesus would have a lot to say about how we run our government, but I think it would leave Fr. Martin rather unsatisfied.

    Capitalism is probably the most subversive economic system ever conceived because it is no respecter of position or blood or history. You perform or you pay the penalty and if it leaves you ruined, well, get to work. There’s always plenty of work because our desires outpace our capabilities.

  7. I looked a little deeper and found your sermon giver was no priest, but a presbyterian minister so please sub minister for priest in the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph.

  8. 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,

    Which is why Miguel Descoto won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1987 and called the USSR a beacon for peace. This when the USSR had killed an estimated 600,000 in Afghanistan.Etc etc.

    Saying that there is no Marxism/Communism in Liberation Theology is like saying there are no carbohydrates in bread.

Comments are closed.