June 5, 2011

Reactionary liberalism

From a good piece by George Weigel, inspired by an attack by some "Catholic" academics on House Majority Leader Boehner... Reactionary liberalism and Catholic social doctrine:

...The 2012 election seems likely to be defined by a major national debate on the welfare state, government spending, and social responsibility. If libertarian minimalism of the sort espoused by Ron Paul sits poorly with the rich and complex tradition of Catholic social doctrine, so does reactionary liberalism of the sort espoused by the anti-Boehner pedagogues.

So perhaps a review of the basics is in order, to put the forthcoming argument on a more secure footing.

(1) The Church's concern for the poor does not imply a "preferential option" for Big Government. The social doctrine teaches that the problem of poverty is best addressed by empowerment: enabling poor people to enter the circle of productivity and exchange in society.

The responsibility for that empowerment falls on everyone: individuals, through charitable giving and service work; voluntary organizations, including the Church; businesses and trade unions.

Government at all levels can play a role in this process of empowerment, but it is a serious distortion of the social doctrine to suggest that government has exclusive responsibility here.

On the contrary: in the 1991 social encyclical, "Centesimus Annus," Blessed John Paul II condemned the "Social Assistance State" because it saps welfare-recipients of their dignity and their creativity while making them wards of the government....

Worth reading, especially if you happen to be embedded within a somewhat liberal Catholic milieu, as I am. M, I keeps my mouth shut, but personally I think the long-standing Catholic teaching of Subsidiarity is substantially embodied in the Tea parties..


Posted by John Weidner at June 5, 2011 8:48 PM
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