The Redistributive State and Interventionism
John W. Robbins
|Download the PDF version of this review. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your system please click here on Adobe Acrobat Reader to download.|
Editor’s note: The content of this Review is chapter 7 of Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church by John W. Robbins, originally published in 1999. Though the material is over twenty years old, yet it is even more apropos today.
In the United States, the influence of Roman Catholic economic thought has resulted in the creation of a redistributive state, in which the government intervenes in the economy and society in order to protect the “common good” and establish “social justice.” Of course, it was not Roman Catholic economic thought exclusively that ushered in interventionist government in the twentieth century, but by the last third of the nineteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church had become the largest religious organization in the United States. By lending its moral authority to interventionist policies, the Roman Church-State played an indispensable role in the centralization, politicization, and socialization of American society and economy in the twentieth century.
The mainline Protestant churches, which, like the Roman Catholic Church, had also abandoned both Christianity and capitalism, were promoting what came to be called the Social Gospel, whose political expressions were the Progressive movement and later the New Deal. One of the prominent figures in the Social Gospel movement was Lyman Abbott, editor of the Christian Union and Outlook, and successor to Henry Ward Beecher as pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Abbott lauded the Roman Catholic Church for its vision for social justice and “joyfully proclaimed the virtues of reforming Catholics as he recorded their deeds in his own community and throughout the country.” Abell pointed out that many American Roman Catholics were imitating the English Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, “whose success as social reformer stemmed largely from his willingness to work with men of every religious persuasion” They were following, according to the American Roman Catholic Edward McSweeney, the instructions of Leo XIII in Immortale Dei (On the Christian Constitution of States), to “take part in public affairs,” with a “fixed determination to infuse into all the views of the state, as most wholesome sap and blood, the wisdom and virtue of the Catholic religion.” This cooperation between Roman Catholics and liberal Protestants was enthusiastically endorsed by Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, who in his 1889 book, Our Christian Heritage, wrote, “far from despising or rejecting their [Protestants’] support, I would gladly hold out to them the right hand of fellowship, so long as they unite with us in striking the common foe. It is pleasant to be able to stand sometimes on the same platform with our old antagonists.” Not only did the Cardinal stand on the same platform with liberal Protestants when it came to social action, he stood on the same platform as religionists of all stripes at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. There the Cardinal remarked, while “we differ in faith, thank God there is one platform on which we stand united, and that is the platform of charity and benevolence.”
Two of the most influential Roman officials in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries were Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and John A. Ryan of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C., both devoted disciples of Leo XIII. Gibbons reversed the Church-State’s initial hostility to labor unions in the United States. In 1889 and 1893, two years before and two years after Leo XIII issued Rerum Novarum, the Roman Church-State hierarchy in America, the leader of which was Cardinal Gibbons, organized two major congresses, the first in Baltimore and the second in Chicago, in order to mobilize clergy and laity for “progressive social action.” Speakers at these congresses, in keeping with Leo XIII’s program, denounced capitalism, socialism, and Communism, and called for more government interference in the economy, especially heavy progressive taxes on the rich. Both congresses voted to establish study groups and distribute copies of Rerum Novarum far and wide.
The Roman Catholic priest John A. Ryan (1869-1945), who has been called “the foremost academician of the American Catholic social movement” and derogatorily nicknamed the “Right Reverend New Dealer,” published his first book in 1906, A Living Wage: Its Ethical and Economic Aspects. It was a sustained argument for a legally mandated minimum wage, which we have had nationally since the 1930s. Richard Ely, the founder of the American Economic Association and a member of the Social Gospel movement, praised the book as “the first attempt in the English language to elaborate what may be called a Roman Catholic system of political economy.” Ryan’s subsequent books, essays, and articles advocated many other interferences in the market: a legally mandated eight-hour workday; restrictions on the labor of women and children; the legalization of picketing during strikes; compulsory arbitration in labor disputes; state employment bureaus; unemployment insurance; legally mandated accident, sickness, and old age insurance; public housing programs; government ownership of natural monopolies; graduated income taxes; graduated inheritance taxes; prohibition of speculation in the markets; and so forth. Ryan called his program “Essential Economic Socialism” and “Semi-Socialism.” Ryan became the leader of a worldwide Roman Catholic movement for social reform in 1908. One of its largest and most influential member groups was the Central Verein in Germany.
In 1917, the Roman Church-State hierarchy in the United States formed the National Catholic War Council (later to be named the National Conference of Catholic Bishops). In 1919 its administrative committee issued a plan written by John Ryan, the Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction. The plan advocated government unemployment, sickness, invalidity, and old age insurance; a federal child labor law; legal enforcement of labor’s right to organize; public housing; graduated taxation on inheritances, incomes, and excess profits; regulation of public utility rates; worker participation in management, and so on. It is not surprising, then, that when Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, he invited Professor Ryan to join his administration. Ryan had been a proponent of the New Deal for decades, long before Franklin Roosevelt was elected to office. Abell pointed out that “During the Great Depression of the 1930s the Catholic social movement seemingly flourished. All the immediate measures set forth in the Bishops’ Program of 1919 were adopted in whole or in part.”
Ryan was vociferous in his calls for government action, and the Roman Catholic press in the United States was unanimous. In 1931 Ryan wrote: “The workers have a claim upon industry for all the means of living, from the time they begin to work until they die. When industry does not do it directly…then it is the business of government to enforce it upon industry.”
The Roman Church-State’s fundamental economic principle of the universal destination of goods resulted in the creation of a plethora of new rights that government must preserve, protect, and defend. Below is a long, though incomplete, list of these rights as they have appeared in various papal encyclicals since 1891. These are some of the new rights that require intervention by government in all aspects of society and economy:
Right of freely founding unions for working people
Right to culture
Right to emigrate
Right to immigrate
Right to food
Right to clothing
Right to rest
Right to medical care
Right to a just wage
Right to life
Right to a safe environment
Right to personal security of workers
Right to family life
Right to private property
Right to common use of all goods
Right to work
Right to a pension
Right to insurance for old age
Right of association
Right to security
Right to bodily integrity
Right to necessary social services
Right to strike
Right to choose a state of life freely
Right to found a family
Right to education
Right to employment
Right to a good reputation
Right to respect
Right to appropriate information
Right to activity in accord with the upright norm of one’s own conscience
Right to protection of privacy
Right to rightful freedom
Right to professional training
Right to quality education
Right to adequate health care.
This list is by no means complete. I offer it merely as an illustration of a basic point of political philosophy: An appeal to human rights is not necessarily a basis for limiting the power of government at all. That is one of the lessons of the French Revolution. What the papacy has realized is that by constantly enlarging the Rights of Man, to use the Vatican’s own phrase, it can offer ever new moral arguments for enlarging the size, scope, and power of government. Gaudium et Spes, one of the major documents issued by the Second Vatican Council, is typical of the many pronouncements of the Church-State in favor of such governmental interference in the economy:
Therefore, there must be made available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one’s own conscience, to protection of privacy and to rightful freedom, even in matters religious.
Notice first the moral imperative: There must be made available. What must be made available? Notice the universals: Everything must be made available. To whom? To all men. The Vatican then gives us a partial list of what sort of things it has in mind: food, clothing, shelter, education, employment, information, and so on. Later in the same document the Vatican said that the complexity of today’s society makes government interference all the more urgent and justified: “The complex circumstances of our day make it necessary for public authority to intervene more often in social, economic and cultural matters.…” John XXIII stated the Roman Church-State’s position in his encyclical Pacem in Terris:
It is therefore necessary that the [civil] administration give wholehearted and careful attention to the social as well as to the economic progress of the citizens, and to the development, in keeping with the development of the productive system, of such essential services as the building of roads, transportation, communications, water supply, housing, public health, education, facilitation of the practice of religion, and recreational facilities…insurance systems…. The government should make similarly effective efforts to see that those who are able to work can find employment in keeping with their aptitudes, and that each worker receives a wage in keeping with the laws of justice and equity.
Let us examine more closely this Roman Catholic welfare state. The Roman Church-State has taken much of the credit for creating the entire field of labor law through the influence of Rerum Novarum. In the United States, that law is a complex and unintelligible body of statues, regulations, and decrees that few can understand, let alone obey. In labor economics, the basic policy of the Roman Church-State is the demand that employers pay employees a “living wage,” sometimes called a “just wage,” or a “family wage.” John Paul II explained:
Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining a family and for providing security for its future. Such remuneration can be given either through what is called a family wage – that is, a single salary given to the head of the family for his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to take up gainful employment outside the home – or through other social measures such as family allowances or grants to mothers devoting themselves exclusively to their families. These grants should correspond to the actual needs, that is, to the number of dependents for as long as they are not in a position to assume proper responsibility for their own lives.
This so-called just wage, please note, is not adjusted according to the knowledge, skill, experience, or productivity of the employee, but according to the number of dependents he has. If wages are to be determined by a criterion not related to the productivity of the employee, such as the number of dependents, there is no good reason why they might not be regulated by other irrelevant criteria, such as race. Roman Catholic economic thought requires, on moral grounds, that two workers doing the same job in the same labor market be paid unequally, simply because one has more dependents than the other. Now there may have been some (inadequate) excuse for such statements a thousand years ago, during the long, dark ages before the dawn of capitalism and the Reformation, but making such statements in the twentieth century indicates a complete ignorance of the market and of justice. Were the pope’s views enacted into law, they would ensure that employees who had more children would not be hired at all; that is, the pope’s economic policies would hurt precisely those people the pope intends to help.
In fact, the pope wanted his family wage enacted into law. He referred to “social measures such as family allowances or grants to mothers devoting themselves exclusively to their families. These grants should correspond to the actual needs….” Every mother should be a welfare mother, and the more children she can produce the larger her welfare check should be.
In addition to paying a family wage, the government must provide unemployment insurance:
The obligation to provide unemployment benefits, that is to say, the duty to make suitable grants indispensable for the subsistence of unemployed workers and their families, is a duty springing from the fundamental principle of the moral order in this sphere, namely, the principle of the common use of goods or, to put it in another and still simpler way, the right to life and subsistence.
John Paul II did not argue that such programs are expedient or prudent; he asserted that they are morally obligatory. He speaks of the “obligation to provide unemployment benefits,” the “duty to make suitable grants,” and he asserted that these obligations and duties spring from “the fundamental principle of the moral order,” the common use or universal destination of goods. The right to unemployment benefits is derived from the right to life.
Unemployment benefits, of course, are not the extent of the Roman welfare program. There are also “…the right to a pension and to insurance for old age and in case of accidents at work. Within the sphere of these principal rights, there develops a whole system of particular rights….” As the number of Roman Catholic rights multiplies, the larger the government becomes, and the smaller the sphere of freedom shrinks. In addition to rights to welfare checks, unemployment grants, pensions, accident insurance, and old age insurance, governments must protect the disabled as well. The Americans with Disabilities Act is similar to what the Vatican apparently had in mind when it advocated the “elimination of various obstacles” for the disabled in 1981. Sometimes it takes the Roman Church-State years to get its policies enacted into law, but it usually succeeds.
More basic than these interferences in the labor market is the Roman Church-State’s policy of attacking business ownership itself. John XXIII, in his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra, asserted that “…it is today advisable as our predecessor [Pius XI, in Quadragesimo Anno, 1931] clearly pointed out, that work agreements be tempered in certain respects with partnership arrangements, so that ‘workers and officials become participants in ownership or management, or share in some manner in profits.’” Here the Roman Church-State is calling for non-owners – workers and government bureaucrats – to become owners or share in business profits. The distinction between sharing and stealing is, of course, drawn only by the consent of the property owner. If the property owner does not consent, if he is coerced by criminals, by the state, or by the Church-State, the action is not sharing, but stealing. That is precisely what the Roman Church-State advocates: legalized theft. It is theft of property from its owners under color of law. The Roman Church-State calls such legalized theft “sharing.”
John XXIII repeatedly urged governments to intervene more and more in their economies. He suggested that new technologies would make such intervention easier, more effective, and more pervasive, and those technologies should be used to advantage by the public authorities. The goal of the Roman Church-State is a completely regulated economy:
…recent developments of science and technology provide additional reasons why, to a greater extent than heretofore, it is within the power of public authorities to reduce imbalances [between sectors, regions, and nations]. These same developments make it possible to keep fluctuations in the economy within bounds, and to provide effective measures for avoiding mass employment [sic]. Consequently it is requested again and again of public authorities responsible for the common good, that they intervene in a wide variety of economic affairs and that, in a more extensive and organized way than heretofore, they adapt institutions, tasks, means, and procedures to this end.
Because government is to intervene and interfere – to use the words of the Roman Church-State – in all aspects of the economy, government must engage in economic planning. John Paul II said that planning is a “must,” a moral imperative:
In order to meet the danger of unemployment and to ensure employment for all, the agents defined here as “indirect employer” [the civil authorities] must make provision for overall planning with regard to the different kinds of work by which not only the economic life but also the cultural life of a given society is shaped; they must also give attention to organizing that work in a correct and rational way. In the final analysis this overall concern weighs on the shoulders of the State, but it cannot mean one-sided centralization by the public authorities.
Whatever “one-sided centralization” might be, it is to be avoided. Apparently the pope prefers two-sided centralization, or perhaps multilateral centralization. In any case, the Roman Church-State advocates and intends to participate in the centralization of power.
Planning is necessary because
Individual initiative alone and the mere free play of competition could never assure successful development…. Hence programmes are necessary in order to “encourage, stimulate, coordinate, supplement and integrate” the activity of the individuals and intermediary bodies. It pertains to the public authorities to choose, even to lay down the objectives to be pursued, the ends to be achieved, and the means for attaining these, and it is for them to stimulate all the forces engaged in this common activity. But let them take care to associate private initiative and intermediary bodies with this work. They will thus avoid the danger of complete collectivization or of arbitrary planning….
Capitalism, individual initiative and free competition, the infallible Church-State says, “could never assure successful development.” Government programs are necessary in order to ensure such development. Through these programs the public authorities will choose, direct, regulate, and control all aspects of the economy. Of course, they will “associate” businesses and other non-governmental bodies in this overall planning and thus avoid “complete collectivization.” Incomplete collectivization, otherwise known as fascism, is the goal. To make the Church-State’s position clear, the pope attacked the heart of the capitalist system, the price system: “…prices which are ‘freely’ set in the market can produce unfair results. One must recognize that it is the fundamental principle of liberalism as the rule for commercial exchange which is questioned here.”
Ayn Rand pointed out that Populorum Progressio, the encyclical from which these quotations are taken, “was endorsed with enthusiasm by the Communist press the world over. ‘The French Communist Party newspaper, L’Humanité, said the encyclical was “often moving” and constructive for highlighting the evils of capitalism long emphasized by Marxists,’ reports The New York Times (March 30, 1967).” The Communists, at least in this instance, were right.
The Roman Church-State, given its divine mission, understands itself to be the prime educator. Indeed, its central doctrine is the Magisterium – the teaching authority – of the Church. Pius XI, writing in his encyclical On Christian Education of Youth said: “…the Church is independent of any sort of earthly power as well in the origin as in the exercise of her mission as educator.” Furthermore, “It is the duty of the State to protect in its legislation the prior rights…of the family as regards Christian education of its offspring, and consequently also to respect the supernatural rights of the Church in this same realm of Christian education.”
While others might have legal rights or moral rights or even natural rights, the Roman Church-State alone has supernatural rights. Because of these rights, the origin and exercise of ecclesiastical power in the field of education is independent of any earthly power. In fact, it is the duty of the government to acknowledge and respect the supernatural rights of the Roman Church-State in the field of education.
Because “All persons have an inalienable right to a quality education,” “Government at all levels…has a responsibility to provide adequate professional and material resources to assist all children to attain a quality education and to safeguard their health and safety. This includes, but is not limited to, textbooks, transportation, appropriate health and safety services, economic assistance to those in need, and adequate information….”
Article 797 of the Canon Law of the Roman Church-State states that “It is necessary that parents enjoy true freedom in selecting schools; the Christian faithful must therefore be concerned that civil society acknowledge this freedom for parents and also safeguard it with its resources in accord with distributive justice.” This means that “true freedom” in education requires “civil society,” that is, government, to subsidize religious schools. The Church-State made this even clearer when it said, “…policy decisions should allow for the existence of alternative educational systems including, but not limited to, charter schools; magnet schools; and public, private, and religious school choice programs, provided they offer quality programs and do not teach or practice intolerance or advocate illegal activity.” This reference to “school choice” means that the Roman Church-State favors voucher programs. Roman Catholic schools in the United States, from kindergarten to university, already receive hundreds of millions of dollars of tax subsidies, not through their tax-exempt status, but through the provision of transportation, textbooks, teacher salaries, research grants, construction loans and grants, food, and so forth. Voucher programs, however, will permit Roman Catholic schools to receive hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, more tax dollars. And this, both the Roman Church-State and its loyal defenders in conservative political circles tell us, is “true freedom.”
The Roman Church-State endorses the same fascist approach to health care. “Our approach to health care is shaped by a simple but fundamental principle: ‘Every person has a right to adequate health care.’… Health care is not a commodity; it is a basic human right… This right is explicitly affirmed in Pacem in Terris and is the foundation of our advocacy for health care reform.” The Roman bishops in the United States issued this statement in 1993, when the debate on health care reform was in high gear in Washington. It was intended to lend the moral authority of the Roman Church-State to the movement for the further socialization of health care in the United States. The American bishops, of course, were not acting on their own; they were acting in accordance with the fundamental principles and directives of the Roman Church-State. John Paul II had written in Laborem Exercens in 1981:
Besides wages, various social benefits intended to ensure the life and health of workers and their families play a part here. The expenses involved in health care, especially in the cases of accidents at work, demand medical assistance should be easily available for workers, and that as far as possible, it should be cheap or even free of charge.
The inalienable right to health care implies the inescapable duty of someone – a physician, a nurse, a pharmaceutical company, or a hospital – to provide that health care. The Roman Church-State realizes that, and maintains that it is the duty of those with the appropriate skills to provide health care. This is simply one application of the principle of the universal destination of goods. The rights advocated by the Roman Church-State require the enslavement of some people for the Benefit of others. The Church-State seems to realize that this is the case and advocates these rights for that reason. The Roman Church-State, from its inception, has been an advocate of slavery.
Aaron I. Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 90.
Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 90.
As quoted in Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 94.
As quoted in Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 95. See “The Ethical Kinship between Protestant Radicalism and Catholic Conservatism,” in the Christian Register (Unitarian), July 27, 1893.
As quoted in Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 118.
Other important figures include Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, May 1, 1933; and John LaFarge, S. J., 1880-1963, who wrote on “interracial justice.”
See Aaron I. Abell, “The Reception of Leo XIII’s Labor Encyclical in America, 1891-1919,” in The Review of Politics, October 1945, 464-495. Sirico wrote in his essay “Catholicism’s Developing Social Teaching,” in The Freeman (December 1991, 468) that Cardinal Gibbons believed that the labor movement and state intervention were “the most efficacious means, almost the only means” to combat individual and corporate monopolies and their “heartless avarice which, through greed of gain, pitilessly grinds not only the men, but even the women and children in various employments.”
Abell, as quoted in Sirico, “Catholicism’s Developing Social Teaching,” The Freeman, December 1991, 473. (Sirico cited the incorrect page in Abell.)
The Roman Catholic priest Charles Coughlin, a demagogic radio preacher, gave the nickname to Ryan after the Roosevelt Administration failed to nationalize industries as quickly as Coughlin wanted. Coughlin “publicized Catholic social teaching more widely than any contemporary, not only on radio, but on the public platform and after 1934 through the propaganda of the Union for Social Justice and its weekly journal, Social Justice” (Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 240). As a radio preacher, Coughlin attracted a national audience estimated at ten million in 1931, far bigger than Rush Limbaugh’s audience in the 1990s. Coughlin was a scathing critic of the Hoover administration and an ardent supporter of Roosevelt and the New Deal; his slogan was “Roosevelt or ruin.” It was only when Roosevelt failed to implement a more thorough-going socialism by nationalizing the banks that Coughlin became a critic.
State governments enacted minimum wage laws as early as 1912. The first state to do so was heavily Roman Catholic Massachusetts. For a historical study of the effects of minimum wages, see Simon Rottenberg, The Economics of Legal Minimum Wages. Washington, D. C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1981. The deleterious effect of legally mandated minimum wages is one of the few ideas on which most economists are agreed.
Francis L. Broderick, Right Reverend New Dealer. New York: Macmillan, 1963, 46.
Abell, “The Reception of Leo XIII’s Labor Encyclical in America, 1891-1919,” The Review of Politics, October 1945.
Abell, “The Reception of Leo XIII’s Labor Encyclical in America, 1891-1919,” The Review of Politics, October 1945, 494.
Abell, American Catholicism and Social Action: A Search for Social Justice, 1865-1950, 234.
O’Brien, Public Catholicism, 171.
The Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes (1965), 26.
“It must likewise be the special care of the State to create those material conditions of life without which an orderly society cannot exist. The State must take every measure necessary to supply employment, particularly for the heads of families and for the young… measures taken by the State with this end in view ought to be of such a nature that they will really affect those who actually possess more than their share of capital resources, and who continue to accumulate them to the grievous detriment of others” (Pius XI, On Atheistic Communism , 75).
The Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes (1965), 75.
John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, On Peace on Earth (1963), 64.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 46.
One statement from Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno illustrates the ignorance the papacy has of economic matters: “If the business makes a smaller profit on account of bad management, want of enterprise or out-of-date methods, this is not a just reason for reducing the workingmen’s wages.”
Roman Catholic economic directives have partially been enacted into law in the form of minimum wage laws.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 43.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 48. “…every man has the right to life, bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services. Therefore a human being also has the right to security in cases of sickness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment or in any other case in which he is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of his own” (John XXIII, Pacem in Terris , 11).
“The various bodies involved in the world of labor, both the direct and the indirect employer, should therefore by means of effective and appropriate measures foster the right of disabled people to professional training and work….” (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens , 53).
“Careful attention must be devoted to the physical and psychological working conditions of disabled people…and to the elimination of various obstacles….” (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens , 53).
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961), 32. “…the good of the whole community must be safeguarded. By these principles of social justice, one class [capitalists] is forbidden to exclude the other [proletariat] from a share of the profits” (Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno , 30). Under the heading, “The uplifting of the proletariat,” Pius XI declared that “Every effort, therefore, must be made that at least in the future a just share only of the fruits of production be permitted to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy….” (Quadragesimo Anno , 33).
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961), 54.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 43.
Paul VI, Populorum Progressio (1967), 33.
Paul VI, Populorum Progressio (1967), 58.
Ayn Rand, “Requiem for Man,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 316.
The State-Church’s concern about education is not that the people be educated, but that it be the sole “educator.” When it was in its power to educate the people, it failed to do so, preferring to keep them ignorant and obsequious. The Jesuit state in Paraguay is an illustration of the practice of the Church-State for a millennium. Mecham wrote: “The Jesuit plan of training and evangelization resulted, whether they intentionally desired it or not, in keeping the Indians [in Paraguay] as ignorant as possible of every duty but that of unquestioning, passive obedience” (J. Lloyd Mecham, Church and State in Latin America: A History of Politico-Ecclesiastical Relations. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1934, 235).
United States Catholic Conference, Principles of Educational Reform in the United States, 1995, 3. “The natural law also gives man the right to share in the benefits of culture, and therefore the right to a basic education and to technical and professional training” (John XXIII, Pacem in Terris , 3).
United States Catholic Conference, Principles of Educational Reform in the United States, 7-8. “…the provision of a quality education for all children is the responsibility of all members of our civic community” (1). To coin a phrase, it takes a community to raise a child. One can see from these statements how flexible the principle of subsidiarity is: It allows the authorities, ecclesiastical or civil, to interfere in any aspect of society at any time. To believe that subsidiarity is a restraint on government action is to be blissfully ignorant of the meaning of Roman Catholic social thought.
United States Catholic Conference, Principles of Educational Reform in the United States, 8
United States Catholic Conference, A Framework for Comprehensive Health Care Reform: Protecting Human Life, Promoting Human Dignity, Pursuing the Common Good, 1993, 1.
John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 47.