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To Understand Social Justice, Understand Subsidiarity

November 15, AD2015

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Many have heard of “social justice” — and many have heard it terribly misused by the secular left and dissenting Catholics — but how many have ever heard of “subsidiarity”?

I heard it for the first time when I was in my 40s. The Catholic principle of subsidiarity has been added to my list of “Why didn’t anyone ever teach me this?”

It is crucial, so I will start with the basics.

The definition of “subsidiarity” according to Wikipedia:

Subsidiarity is an organizing principle [which holds] that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. 

The definition of “subsidiarity” according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

[T]he principle that central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.

In other words, if something can be done by a smaller and more simple organization (as opposed to a larger and more complex one) then it should be. The family is the simplest, most “local” organization in the social order, followed by such organizations as the neighborhood, city, state, nation, and the like. The more complicated, centralized, and further removed an entity or authority, the less effective and personal are its interventions into areas better suited to smaller, local authorities.

Subsidiarity holds that decisions and policies should be made at the lowest level possible, and intervention by higher and bigger social organizations should only be undertaken when those lower levels truly need and desire a supporting (not usurping!) action.

The really cool thing about this is that subsidiarity is a Catholic principle, sprung from Catholic social teaching.

Pope Pius XI wrote of it here:

As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. (Quadragesimo Anno, 1931)

Sixty years later, Blessed John Paul II warned of the dangers that come from violating the principle of subsidiarity, namely, the modern welfare state:

[E]xcesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the “Social Assistance State”. Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: 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 to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. 

By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. (Centesimus annus, 1991)

The role of the family must not be usurped by communities and cities, the role of cities must not be usurped by states, and the role of states must not be usurped by the federal government. Worst of all is when the federal government overtakes a role proper to the family, and thus does more harm than good.

On a personal note: It is frustrating when well-meaning Catholic proponents of social justice claim that a vote against more and bigger federal social programs is somehow “un-Catholic.” Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as the Catholic principles of social justice must never be divorced from the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

But the misunderstanding is not really their fault, as they probably have never even heard of subsidiarity.

Let us work to correct that unfortunate lapse in Catholic knowledge and teaching.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Leila Miller is a wife and mother of eight children who has a penchant for writing and a passion for teaching the Catholic Faith in simple ways. This summa cum laude Boston College graduate also enjoys debating secularists, and in her spare time she fancies herself a bit of a Catholic matchmaker. She manages two blogs that accommodate those hobbies well: Little Catholic Bubble, and the invite-only Catholic Moms Matchmaking.

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  • pbecke

    ‘Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their
    own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is
    an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right
    order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and
    subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its
    very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and
    never destroy and absorb them. (Quadragesimo Anno, 1931)’

    ‘For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.’

    Solzhenitsin wrote that there was a time in Russia a few centuries ago, when the mass of the people believed that the only proper ambition was a devout life, a life of prayer and sacrifice; a precept straight out of the New Testament.

    Has God’s requirement of us changed so radically ?Or is it, rather that Pius XI, no doubt a child of his times and social background and possessing outstanding insights generally, is patronising the flock with such a perspective. It rather reminds me of Thatcher’s Tories who thought personal handing over of charity was better than resorting to income tax, evidently unaware or forgetting Jesus’ words that we should not let one hand know what the other is doing – presumably for fear of our patting ourselves on the back.

    Pius XI was plain wrong. Jesus repeatedly warned against our habit – that of the people whose word counts – of exalting the very mindset of cupidity and materialism at the core of capitalism, exalting natural virtues above the supernatural virtues, so absolutely counter to the example of the Christians we read of in the Epistles, who sold their property for it to be pooled for the common good. As Jesus asked when addressing the topic, ‘Do not the robbers/pagans/do as much ?’

    That communistic principle, so uniquely extreme in its practice in that Epistle is sanctioned there in black and white. Did not Barnabas sell property he owned in Cyprus to be given to the almoners? No doubt it was only possible then, because of the pristine fullness of grace Christians enjoyed at that time. But the principle was surely hallowed.

    There are, indeed, two crucial reasons why subsidiarity in secular government should be anathema :

    1) The income taxes levied in the poorer areas are insufficient to provide the amenities a civilised society should extend to all its citizens. The most obvious examples are health services, pubic transport services, building and maintenance of roads, bridges, railways, public libraries, etc.

    2) Although decentralisiation of government is much favoured by the economic right wing, the monied, middle and upper classes, the Haves, who mostly hold the second Commandment to be negotiable, if Edinburgh, Scotland is any guide, it tends to lead to empire-building, and an increase in personal taxation. I actually do feel for the former monied people in Edinburgh for this very reason. A unified system is more easily governable in the interests, and if run properly ought to be cheaper, only by reason of economies of scale.

    Malfeasance by central governments is also easier to detect and deal with than is the case with a gallimaufrey of local governments, where corrupt councillors can operate with impunity for decades.

  • squire98

    “Social justice” as an expression is simply a new concept for parsing the profound meaning of true justice. Legally speaking, there is no such definition in the lexicon of man’s law. We are social creatures and of course there should be justice in our society. We need not invent slogans and soundbites to get the message out. Justice is justice and need not be subdivided into compartments.

    Be social, be just, be charitable and be not carried away on the wings of trendy slogans.

  • adam aquinas

    Mrs Miller…I quite understand the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, action at the level furthest removed from a central bureaucratic authority. It is not totally dissimilar from Occam’s Razor. I find that both concepts are flawed when facing reality and human weakness. Too often fundamental thinkers use subsidiarity as an intellectual exercise to re-victimize victims. The lowest or local level is often lacking in objectivity or resources to deal with issues which are real and not theoretical. Allow me to give a few examples affecting children.
    In the 65 years of the American clergy child abuse crises, $4 billion dollars have been spent in compensation to victims and legal fees. The lowest level which is brother priests, the diocese and the higher ups all, almost without exception failed to protect children and simply shifted abusers around or ignored claims of abuse. The lower levels failed to provide an abiding sense of social justice for children, and still does. Hence state governments has to convene grand juries, criminally charge clergy, extend statutes of limitations and declare religious outside the confessional as mandated reports. Lower levels sinfully failed.
    In 2012 studies indicate that Children’s Protective Services in the US found and verifies 686,000 cases of child abuse and maltreatment with the family. The local level could not deal with these abusive parents and so the state needed to intervene to provide supports and ultimately abrogation of parental rights. The lower levels of society failed abysmally and this continues.
    Across the United States, over 15 million children live in food insecure households. The school meals programs and the SNAP programs minimally help these children with basic needs. Both are federal programs because neither the states nor locals could not do the job.
    In America, 2.5 million or 1 in 30 children are homeless. Local and state agencies failed and hence we have the federal McKinley- Vento Act.
    In the United States, 4.6 percent of children with documented disabilities have no health insurance. Local or state solution? None…., the federal CHIP program keeps these kids alive.
    In America 15 percent of children have disabilities and were often taught in substantially separate facilities and with sub-par resources….so federal IDEA an FAPE ensured children a right to a free and appropriate education….a right of all children. This was not achieved without intervention at the highest levels of bureaucracy.
    And of course, ADA, the feds forced schools and facilities to provide handicap accessibility in buildings and transportation systems. Never achievements nor concerns at the local level.

    I could go on and on about the failure of local levels in all areas related to children, Like I said subsidiarity is an inventive approach to blaming the victim and resisting the provision of equality among all. The lowest level or the simplest answer does not work. It is an excuse not to provide for those in need…an elaborate excuse.

    So, to conclude, a failure to support these extensive programs is not only non-Catholic and non-Christian, it is inhumane. Matt 25 somehow challenges subsidiarity and social justice. Christ said If you see a hungry person…feed him, is you see a naked person, clothe them…if you see a homeless person, give them shelter. Christ did not deal with political theory He said DO IT, because you DO IT to ME. Lower levels and simplicity fails.He never blamed victim of social inequity for their state in life. Doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent (or none)…our response must always be humane.

    In closing we are now 50 years past the Pact of the Catacombs of Domitilla. Over forty concilliar bishops said mass and signed a pact that the Church should and would be a poor Church for the poor. Later another 500 signed the pact and was given to Pius VI. They eschewed pomp, riches, mansions, elaborate titles like “Your excellency” and pledged a poor church for the poor. The pact disappeared and one is living to testify. The pact of the Catacombs certainly was a step toward an embrace of subsidiarity and was lost…so we need real help.

    http://www.sedosmission.org/web/en/news/137-the-pact-of-the-catacombs-domitilla

    Specifics:
    http://www.traditioninaction.org/ProgressivistDoc/A_036_CatacombPact.htm

    • deltaflute

      1) Your examples about how one tier failed doesn’t negate subsidiarity. If a level fails because of sin or resources then it is the responsibility of the next lowest tier to provide assistance. The point of subsidiarity is not to ursurp the power of a lower tier when a lower tier CAN provide assistance. An example would be the government providing transport to the disabled. If an elderly person needs a ride to the doctor, they often turn to family members first. If the family members are unable to provide transportation, perhaps the community they live in can. In that case they would use the community transportation. Some assisted care facilities have their own transportation or they can ask a neighbor. If that doesn’t work, there is always public transportation for the disabled (special buses and so forth) or you can take a taxi. But you use the lowest tier possible that can help you. It’s nice the government provides public transportation and is in some cases necessary. Much like the use of law enforcement or CPS.

      2) In the United States (unlike countries like Canada) we have free reduced lunch programs and SNAP that work in conjunction with lower tiers. Local schools and groceries actually provide the food. Individual states regulate who qualifies for the programs. The federal government has a few regulations that states must follow and together with state funding provides funds. It is not a case here with the federal government does everything to provide food and it works better that way.

      3) With disabilities it is the same. These may be federal sponsored programs but they are run with the support of individual states. You seem to be under the erroneous impression that subsidiarity means that there is no centralized government, but that’s completely untrue. It is a matter of who can provide does with lower tiers leading if possible.

      4) Actually as far as providing is concerned I would say that violating subsidiarity is what causes excuses. Think about it, if a person knows that the government is providing assistance to the poor more people are less likely to give. This happens to me all the time. In the states, I’ve had panhandlers ask me for money. When I offered them food they turned me down because they had SNAP. I’ve been giving less to individuals on the street and instead have turned my efforts to giving to food banks and other charities. And still there are people I come across who would prefer that charities particularly religiously-affiliated ones should be put out of business so to speak. They would rather have a tax increase and place all the power in the government which is corruptible.

      When I lived in Canada, they set it up so that the poor received one lump sum of money every month to be used for whatever needs they had. This has problems when a person has an increase in expenses such as heating. The only agency that provided food was the food bank run by local churches of all stripes. There is no SNAP or free/reduced lunch program. I would more often buy food and provide it to the food bank because I knew that there were people who were facing real issues that the government wasn’t helping with. There were also programs through the utilities company that allowed you to donate too. I didn’t have any excuses in Canada unlike the United States.

      5) I think that you need to re-read your own words. Subsidiarity is a call for individuals to help other individuals. No where in there did Christ say to rely on the State to provide for the poor. He expected us to do that.

    • adam aquinas

      Oh boy….subsidiarity is a failure and I don’t need to re-read my words. I am well aware that Christ expected us to take care of our fellow people….the fact is that we do not. WE DO NOT with a few exceptions. In the US unless the federal government mandated programs. mandated non-discrimination, etc….the States would have taken NO action, nor would lower levels taken action. The repeated failure of “subsidiarity” is why the feds take action for the common good. It’s a nice theory, but doesn’t translate into reality…

    • deltaflute

      and the poor will always be with us. so I’m not sure what you consider not taking care of people.

      states do have their own programs and laws many of which are stricter. so they take plenty of action. you’re going to have to be more specific. my own state has anti-descrimination laws. heck my county has programs.

      subsidiarity works. leaving all the power to government leads to corruption. the founding fathers knew this.

    • adam aquinas

      One simple example…15% of public school students have a defined special education need from a simple learning disability to severe autism to a medically complex condition. Catholic schools do NOT generally provide specialized services! Before 1997, special education was not mandated in state public schools, excepting Massachusetts. Since the states could not get off their duffs or did so reluctantly, te feds had to implement IDEA, FAPE, ADA…to insure that ALL students had access to a free and appropriate education and also to set up appeals processes when the schools fail. This is my expertise….Catholic Schools do not have integrated special ed programs generally, States are reluctant to spend the needed money….so the federal government had to set strict quidelines for the reluctant states, most in the mid west and south. I also elaborated on the clergy sex abuse crises in detail in an earlier comment. Subsidiarity is a cool concept….human narcissism makes it untenable. I could give you hundreds of examples but you appear fixated on government and corruption … conspiracy theory. It exists but adds nothing to your argument. You cannot leave anything to individuals, generally….

    • deltaflute

      First of all, Catholic schools tend to be small and thus have a limited number of resources. Having worked in a Catholic school, we have had a variety of disabled students that we have taken on with what limited resources we can provide them with. There are also a number of Catholic schools who provide basic skills training and are set up specifically for disabled students. I had a severely disabled friend who went to such a school. He originally went to a public school which was ill equipped to help him. They wanted to teach him how to do math. The Catholic school he went to provided him with the opportunity to learn how to take a bus, menu plan, and live as independently as he possibly could. So please spare me that Catholic schools don’t help or are far worse. I have a disabled child myself. I’ve had disabled friends. I even knew a lady who dedicated her life to teaching special education students. You are barking up the wrong tree here as teachers like her are the epitome of subsidiarity. Just because there was no law in place doesn’t mean anything. There is no law requiring people to help the poor, but they do anyway. That’s subsidiarity.

      I really don’t think you understand how subsidiarity works. If a lower level cannot provide for whatever reason, then an upper level takes over. Just to illustrate a basic ordering of levels: family, community, city/town, county, state, country. The opposite of subsidiarity is a centralized government in which rests all the power. And that’s scary. And that’s not how the US government is set up. It’s set up more like what I’ve illustrated.

      As for leaving anything to individuals, well I’m sorry that you must have some sort of experience where someone failed you in some way. That doesn’t negate that removing subsidiarity from the equation and giving it to an all-powerful government has inherent problems: the biggest one being the limit of freedom of the individual. You are more than welcome to believe that having a centralized government is better. But I’m afraid I’m just going to disagree. I’d rather a few corrupt individuals doing wrong things here and there than a whole system of corruption.

      Subsidiarity is Church teaching and I bend my will to it. If you have trouble with this teaching, then may I suggest you seek a priest for more spriritual counsel as I’m not really the person equipped to help you with it. May God Bless You!

    • adam aquinas

      Just where did Christ speak about subsidiarity? I always find it an excuse for not doing what we need for our fellow people. Most priests I know do not have a clue about the nature of the concept. Subsidiarity is not infallible doctrine, just a concept which doesn’t work…have a great holiday as I will bow out of this conversation…..

    • deltaflute

      “Just where did Christ speak about subsidiarity?”

      He speaks through the Church.

      “I always find it an excuse for not doing what we need for our fellow people.”

      And I find that it is the opposite. There are sociological studies into how people react differently in groups as opposed to individuals. Knowing that it’s on my shoulders makes me more likely to act.

      “Most priests I know do not have a clue about the nature of concept. Subsidiarity is not an infallible doctrine….”

      It doesn’t have to be infallible doctrine. It’s Magisterial teaching, which requires one to bend ones will to it. Similar to the teachings in Laudato Si, which when it was initially published was difficult for some to bend their wills to. It’s not infallible teaching either. That is why I suggested seeking a priest to help you. Not bending your will to the Church is not a good thing. It’s a sign of something wrong. I speak from experience here.

      “just a concept which doesn’t work”

      It’s not just a concept. It’s a teaching. You are required to accept it even if it feels wrong to you. Again I’ll reiterate the importance of seeking a priest’s counsel.

      “have a great holiday”

      Thanks! You too!

  • Leila Miller

    One thing I want to add: Anyone who has any interest in the concept of “social justice” must read Anthony Esolen’s book, Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press). It was absolutely fascinating, and I consider him the new Chesterton.

  • james

    Unfortunately, I think dysfunctional families are doing much more harm than good and will be glad to see proper
    regulation and monitoring of activities within these smallest of units so as to counter the negative effects of those who cannot “perform(ed) effectively.

    • deltaflute

      I think it depends on what you mean by “proper regulation and monitoring of activities.” And who exactly is doing the monitoring and why. And what constitutes as a “dysfunctional family” in the first place. For example, I think that a single parent household is in some ways dysfunctional because it lacks a second parent. Perhaps this dysfunction arose from a spouse’s death. Does the government need to intervene to insure “proper regulation and monitoring of activities?” If the spouse needs help in some way, I would hope that community would be supportive. Extended relatives or family friends can offer to pick up or drop off children from school if there’s a work conflict. Does the government necessarily need to monitor that? I think that’s Leila’s driving at. In some ways it’s more harmful for the government to be involved especially when such things can be resolved with help from the next lowest tier.

    • james

      If you misuse a motor vehicle you may have the privilege of driving taken away. If you raise a
      dog and he bites or injures you neighbor the state may have him put down. If you raise a child
      and either through omission or commission he turns on society as a criminal I believe first the
      parent(s) should be investigated and if they are first cause to murder, rape, robbery, bullying,
      violence and mayhem higher authorities should determine if criminal charges should be brought.
      This in no way spotlights any family circle whether it be single or whole. If it can be proved that
      an absentee father or mother was the root cause in a child turning on society they should along
      with the child be held accountable. That rich Sandy Hook mom should have been thrown in prison
      for life after her severely disabled son killed those had she survived.

    • Guy McClung

      and if a post-pubescent minor violates the statutory rape laws and a minor girl becomes pregnant, and that girl chooses to exercise her Supreme-Court-created absolute right to have the baby, do we 1. force the parents of the post-pubescent minor rapist/criminal to pay for the child til age 18? and/or 2. put the parents of the post-pubescent criminal rapist in jail?

    • james

      Monday am quarterbacking is tough Guy but I’d say 1. the system has laws and sentencing
      guidelines for this. I don’t think parents regulate sex drives. And whom seduced whom in
      the case of two very close to the age of consent. And girls rape boys too.

    • deltaflute

      Adam Lanza was not severely disabled. If that were the case he would not have been able to pull off the Sandy Hook shooting. It is true that he was disabled to some extent, but autistic people and those with OCD do not commit mass shootings. Adam most likely suffered from mental illness, which I suppose can be a form of disability depending on the severity of it. His mental illness was undiagnosed and a lot of his odd behavior was unfortunately thought to be a result of his autism/OCD. Adam Lanza in my opinion is the result of system failure since parents rely on experts to properly diagnose children (and in this case an adult as he was 20 at the time). Having experienced this myself, I don’t blame the parents. My oldest son went for years without a proper diagnosis. And I relied on trained psychological personnel. But because of his age, it was hard to distinguish what was out of the ordinary and what was within the norm for his behavior. I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Diagnoses are sometimes wrong or things are missed which is why parents are often the best advocates for their children. Should we start removing children from parents and have the state raise them to avoid children and adults being misdiagnosed? Do you think the state could do a better job? We go back to placing them in institutions?

      Should we also prosecute Luke Woodham’s father because he abandoned Luke? Luke killed 3 people including his mother where I lived. He was 16, the same age as myself at the time. His motive was that he felt ostracism. Should we corral teens and place them in happy bubbles while arresting their parents because teens are having trouble making friends? Should we arrest parents if their teen commits suicide? At what point are teens and young adults held responsible for their actions? Does having a rotten childhood shift the blame from the teen/young adult to their parents?

    • james

      Adam Lanza in my opinion is the result of system failure since parents rely on experts to properly diagnose children

      Anyone who has any indication of mental illness should not be taught how to use a gun
      and have access to them. Mom removed this kid from a few schools including the last
      one where he finally seemed to be grounded according to testimony. Having worked in the mental health field for 25 years I do not advocate institutions for any reason other than to protect the most severely disabled. We spent decades repairing the psyche damage done to these helpless people.

      At what point are teens and young adults held responsible for their actions? Does having a rotten childhood shift the blame from the teen/young adult to their parents?

      Your first question is spelled out in law. “Rotten” childhoods are the sole domain of rogue parents who were not qualified to parent and they too should be held accountable.

    • deltaflute

      “Anyone who has any indication of mental illness should not be taught how to use a gun and have access to them.”

      1) Adam’s behavior was attributed to him being autistic, which is not a mental illness. The assumption is that he had a mental illness of some sort based on hindsight. He was never formerly diagnosed. So you are assuming his mother was negligent.

      2) are you advocating that those with any indication of mental illness have their 2nd amendment rights revoked? So those with anxiety, for example, should no longer be allowed their hunting rifle even if there’s no indication that they would harm themselves or others?

      ” Mom removed this kid from a few schools including the last
      one where he finally seemed to be grounded according to testimony.”

      Not every parent agrees with all aspects of a school. He was also 20 and not under any obligation to attend a school. Autistic 20 year olds are legal adults and in most cases can make decisions for themselves. Adam had Asperger’s which means he very well could have decided not to attend school or return to school without permission from his mother.

      “Having worked in the mental health field for 25 years I do not advocate
      institutions for any reason other than to protect the most severely
      disabled. We spent decades repairing the psyche damage done to these
      helpless people.”

      Then we agree that making disabled people wards of the state is harmful and against subsidiarity. There’s no reason to monitor parents simply because their child is disabled yes?

      “Your first question is spelled out in law.”

      I’m looking for a more specific answer from you. You are indicating that any family with any amount of dysfunction should be monitored. You indicated that parents of children with disabilities should be held responsible for every action their child takes even if that child is an adult who can for all intensive purposes make their own decisions. That’s contrary to the law.

      ” “Rotten” childhoods are the sole domain of rogue parents who were not qualified to parent and they too should be held accountable.”

      So am I to understand that Luke Woodham’s father should have been arrested because Luke shot and killed 3 people? Is a parent who abandons their child held accountable enough if they make child-support payments or do think such parents should be jailed for child abandonment? How do you go about prosecuting dead people, drug addicts, the mentally ill etc because they conceived a child but were not “qualified to parent?” Should we do away with Baby Safe Haven laws?

    • james

      Autism is a disorder. The brain is “ill” for all practical purpose. The mother had all the common sense of a slug.to teach him to use a gun and Adam demanded that he be allowed to shoot as I recall. His dad had a moral obligation to work with his child and
      until the brain is understood well enough to say that a father removing himself from a
      child’s life causes severe handicaps which may result in dangerous behaviors he has
      to answer to God for that one. 2. Anyone who has been under care in a mental health
      setting should be required to have a psychiatric MD sign off on this “right” 3. i do not
      know if Adam was “presumed competent” which is a legal definition that defines rights.
      4 ” There’s no reason to monitor parents simply because their child is disabled yes?”
      A resounding NO. Parents who receive state and federal monetary and social services
      need to be held accountable. The number of parents and guardians we pulled rep-payee benefits from because of neglect or abuse was staggering,. Parents who irregularly medicated their children against MD orders thus putting them at risk are guilty of abuse.
      5 ” I’m looking for a more specific answer from you. You are indicating that any family
      with any amount of dysfunction should be monitored.” Now you are getting emotional.
      We worked with people presumed competent and not who lived independently in their community with government and program oversight. Actually, we case workers were
      held accountable for any decisions which negatively impacted our clients lives. Your
      last paragraph is an emotion rant and I have other things to do. Thanks for replying.

    • deltaflute

      “Autism is a disorder. The brain is “ill” for all practical purpose.”

      And yet it is not a mental illness. Autistics know the difference between right and wrong. Many autistics hold jobs, get married, run businesses, and for all intensive purposes lead “normal” lives. Being autistic doesn’t preclude one from ones 2nd amendment rights. If you’re going to go that route you might as well revoke the rights of anyone with an “ill” brain including those who are recovering alcoholics, those with Torettes, and so forth. The autistic community is pretty big into asserting their rights. I don’t think you’ll have much luck with advocating that autistics don’t have the same right’s as neurotypical people.

      “His dad had a moral obligation to work with his child and
      until the brain is understood well enough to say that a father removing himself from a
      child’s life causes severe handicaps which may result in dangerous behaviors he has
      to answer to God for that one.”

      All dads have moral obligations to their children regardless of the child’s fitness. A person is born with autism. It has nothing to do with a father removing himself from the picture. Adam was always going to be autistic regardless of anyone else’s involvement. Likewise mental illnesses are hardwired into people. At some point, people have to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. My husband’s family has a tendency toward suicidal depression. It’s easy to blame others, but ultimately it was the family member who took his own life. Seems to me that you are trying to blame Adam Lanza’s situation solely on his mother who is dead and cannot advocate for herself.

      “Anyone who has been under care in a mental health
      setting should be required to have a psychiatric MD sign off on this “right””

      Define “mental health setting.” Are you suggesting that a person who is seeking therapy because of a high pressured job or a loss in the family needs a psychiatrist? Most of those people speak with counselors. Do you know how expensive it would be to round up everybody who’s ever gone to any form of counseling and have them turn in their weapons or seek a psychiatrist? Autistics don’t typically see psychiatrists unless there’s some other medical issue. There’s no medication for autism.

      ” i do not
      know if Adam was “presumed competent” which is a legal definition that defines rights.”

      So because you cannot say whether a aspy is competent or not, you are going to go ahead and blame his dead mother anyway?

      “A resounding NO. Parents who receive state and federal monetary and social services
      need
      to be held accountable. The number of parents and guardians we pulled
      rep-payee benefits from because of neglect or abuse was staggering and
      so to parents who irregularly medicated their children against MD
      orders, putting them at risk are guilty of abuse.”

      Would this apply to seeking services through a school? My state has all state and federal resources wrapped up in the school districts. Unless you want to pay for everything out of pocket, you contact your local school for resources. Does that mean I need to be monitored? What about children who are just being screened, which my state also does? Do parents not have the right to make decisions of their child’s behalf? If you extend this to disabled children, what about children with medical conditions like diabetes? Should those parents be monitored? Are you advocating a nanny state? Are you suggesting that parental rights are default abuse until proven otherwise? Because the Supreme Court has already ruled that despite how you feel about how parents parent, you cannot throw them in jail. Likewise I’m sure violating their parental rights not to mention privacy rights, wouldn’t go over very well.

      “Now you are getting emotional.”

      You can see through my computer screen? I’m not getting emotional. I’m getting logical. You are advocating that people be throw in jail for the crimes others commit. You are likewise saying any parent who has a disabled child needs a nanny state looking over their shoulder. Scotland already has a program for all children that is basically that. The push-back against it was tremendous. Parents rightly think the government should leave them alone. It’s a violation of parental rights.

      “We worked with people presumed
      competent and not who lived independently in their community with
      government and program oversight. Actually, we case workers were
      held accountable for any decisions which negatively impacted our clients lives.”

      So you’ve been thrown in jail because your client threw a fit? There is a difference between being truly neglectful of someone who is vulnerable and babying people.

      “Your last paragraph is an emotion rant and I have other things to do. Thanks for replying.”

      It’s not an emotional rant. I’m asking you to look at the next steps of what you are purposing. We already live in a world where my generation has been molly coddled so much that they don’t take responsibility anymore. They want free college education. They need “safe spaces.” It’s ridiculous. What you are suggesting is that Luke Woodham should get a free pass for his actions because his father abandoned him and he was ostracized at school. I am his same age. I lived in the same area. I was ostracized. I don’t think I should get a free pass if I shoot someone. I don’t think my parents should be thrown in jail because they were not perfect parents. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all make mistakes. Obviously Adam Lanza’s parents did and Luke Woodham’s. There is difference however with making poor choices and being willfully abusive. It looks like you are saying is that there is no difference. The law would disagree with you on that score. Do you agree with the law or do you believe we need more restrictions on parents? That’s basically what I’m trying to figure out.

    • james

      1. The autistic clients I worked with were in the moderate to severe category and most
      were dual diagnosed. Alcoholism, I believe is a medical illness. The brain does not
      have an on/off switch to control alcohol intake. I’ve sat on two DUI juries and both
      defendants were convicted.
      2.Adam’s disorder was exasperated by his over-wrought single parent mom and absent
      dad situation and this lack of stability was a major cause in how far his life unraveled.
      3. Counselors are mandated reporters and if a client displays a thought process that
      endangers themselves or others it needs to be reported up the chain.
      4. I blame his mother for not having the common sense to restrict his activities and I’m
      sure she would put it altogether today if she could come back and do it again
      5. You could lose your job pronto for unprofessional decisions based on agency protocol.
      6. I would take your coddled generation and let them go cold turkey on receiving any help
      that was within their power to correct. And once again the first person LW shot was
      his mother. Had he not she should have been investigated for abuse/neglect to a
      child in her care. LW got what he deserved: a 140 year sentence Now I hope you
      have ” figured it out.”

    • deltaflute

      1) Adam Lanza was an Aspy. He was not considered moderate to severe. During the shooting he was able to speak to people and interact with them. There was nothing to suggest that he shot people because he was autistic. You still aren’t directly answering if you think an Aspy should have their 2nd amendment rights revoked because they are an Aspy. Obviously those with more severe mental issues don’t have the ability to remove guns, take multiple rounds of ammunition, and target a school. That sort of thing takes planning. You don’t have to have a mental defect or be autistic in order to do that. ISIS just recently did something similar in Paris.

      2) “Adam’s disorder was exasperated by his over-wrought single parent mom and absent dad situation and this lack of stability was a major cause in how far his life unraveled.”

      Adam made the choice to murder people. And yet you think it’s perfectly okay to blame the parents to the point of arresting them and throwing them in jail? Isn’t it a bit over-kill to expect parents to be 100 percent perfect all the time? If that were the case, then you might as well remove every child from every parent because we all make mistakes and are flawed individuals. But you already said you didn’t think institutionalizing people was a good thing so you advocate monitoring? What happens if a parent makes a mistake which will inevitably happen?

      3) You didn’t answer my question. What does a person need in order to retain their 2nd amendment rights? You said that anyone who’s under mental health care needs to be signed off by a psychiatrist. Counselors are not psychiatrists. So you agree that what you proposed was over-kill for the average person seeking for example grief counseling?

      4) Hindsight is 20/20 so they say. What you proposed was to throw her in jail because she lacked hindsight. Are you backing off that now?

      5) Loosing your job is different than being put in jail. You seem to be suggesting that parents are always responsible for the actions of their children and therefore should be jailed. Should health care workers be responsible if one of clients who lives relatively independent one day decides to shoot his or her roommate without any warning? Should they too be thrown into jail?

      6) But see by expecting parents to responsible for every decision that they’re child makes you are encouraging parents to be more involved in every aspect of that child’s life. You aren’t encouraging the child to learn independence but rather to rely on their parents all the time. That’s why my generation has so many problems. We were given less and less responsibility because there became (for good and for ill) more and more government over-sight. And it isn’t getting better. Parents are being brought on charges for child neglect for letting their children go and play at parks by themselves. This was something that their own parents got to do. A mother got in trouble from the law because she was in the line of sight of her children at a food court but not immediately next to them. I hope you don’t expect that more parental monitoring will solve this problem because it won’t.

      Luke’s own testimony was that he was ostracized by classmates. His mother had nothing to do with his decision to commit murder. By all accounts she was an upstanding person. I mourn her death.

      I’m afraid I don’t have you figured out. I really don’t think you’ve thought through the consequences of “monitoring” parents or jailing parents for the actions of their children. There’s seems to be a dichotomy between you agreeing with the law (and it’s spirit) and what you are proposing.

    • james

      So, why don’t you propose something yourself. I stand by my Sandy Hook opinion and
      merely suggested that parents should be investigated should their kids turn on society.
      After all, parenting is a unique form of programming and like the first law of computer’s
      dictate – garbage in garbage out. I’m done helping you figure me out. Peace.

    • deltaflute

      That’s not exactly what you said. You said:
      “I think dysfunctional families are doing much more harm than good and will be glad to see proper
      regulation and monitoring of activities within these smallest of units…”

      and again you said

      “That rich Sandy Hook mom, had she survived should have
      been thrown in prison for life after her severely disabled son killed those children. .”

      No where in there did you suggest that parents make mistakes versus parents being willfully abusive. No where in there did you acknowledge that Adam Lanza was a 20 year old adult. Instead you shifted the blame entirely to his mother, a dead women who cannot defend her actions. You assumed in the beginning that he was “severely disabled” because Adam was diagnosed with having Asperger’s. That’s not a severe disability.

      In addition, you suggested that autistics and anyone seeking mental help should have their 2nd amendment rights revoked.

      What you proposed, from my point of view, was extreme: a violation of parental rights, privacy rights, and 2nd amendment rights. But yet you said you think the law is fine? Color me confused.

      What do I propose? Prayer and frequent use of the sacraments are in order. We live in a fallen world. More restrictions will not prevent mass shootings and murder. Look at Paris, which has strict gun control laws. ISIS still managed to use both bombs and guns to murder people. People bent on destruction don’t follow the law. You don’t have to a mental disorder either.

      Having more restrictions has done more harm then good. If the guns restrictions were relaxed in Paris, more people could have defended themselves instead of waiting 10 minutes for the police to arrive which allowed ISIS to take hostages. Having more restrictions has caused parents to fear the government removing their children from them for minor things like be left at home for an hour when they were 9. Thus we now have a whole generation of adults who don’t know how to be independent because they never learned. What you are proposing “regulating and monitoring” parents with disabled children will not go well. More parents out of fear will forgo using government aid for their children or worse abort them to avoid government interference altogether. The programs should be there to assist parents and not view them as automatic threats to their children’s welfare.

      And finally to quote Thomas Jefferson: “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

    • Leila Miller

      Yes, Deltaflute! And the point is, the family is so dysfunctional now precisely because the government has taken over so many of its natural roles! Gosh, there’s a reason we are in this mess, and it’s not because of the principle of subsidiarity.

    • james

      Another point is that the welfare system failed primarily because nothing was expected of
      the recipients. Free money, no accountability and / or oversight.

    • pbecke

      Despite my earlier post, that is the nightmare, isn’t it…. atheist, left-wing psychopaths behaving utterly tyrannically towards a family concerning one of its members in a manner worthy of Stalin. But this happens at the local level, I believe, even if sanctioned, after the event, by those higher up in the national hierarchy.

      I

  • ThePhoenixRises

    Very thought provoking. This word and concept need to be brought up and more

  • Guy McClung

    Dear Leila-It is most unusual to hear this word whenever Catholics who support Democrats discuss any issue. I know “Catholics who support Democrats” is like “peaceful jihadist”. They have told us “It takes a village to raise a child,” but the truth is it takes children to raise a village. And it takes good marriages to raise a child. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, it to spread the SUBSIDARITY message far and wide til the end of October 2016 [of course, in your free time]. Good luck. Fine article. God bless you. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  • Thank you, as I had never heard of this before, either! This not only gives a word, a concept, to the reason why I dislike the welfare state and why it has the disastrous effects on the people it supposedly helps but it also gives Catholics the reason they need to, as the author says, NOT feel guilty about not only NOT wanting this monstrosity increased, but also demanding it be overhauled and decreased.

    • Leila Miller

      You seriously have to read Anthony Esolen’s book, Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching. I was blown away. You will love it, and you will learn so much.