I am no economist and I have little patience with politics, but I do understand that my Catholic faith is opposed to both socialism and unrestrained capitalism. It is opposed to both because it is in favor of the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. These principles are easily understood as the proper need for community and government being balanced by being “in favor of the little guy and the homegrown solution”. The Catholic faith is therefore in favor of community, but sees community as founded on personal freedom and personal responsibility. Therefore we distrust both big government and big business.
Catholic social teaching is a largely undiscovered treasure. It provides a sensible way of balance in fiercely partisan politics. A Catholic politician should work according to the principles of this social teaching. To do so is not to bring religion into politics, but to allow his beliefs to influence his decisions. We would expect this to be the case for any politician–that his personal ideals and beliefs should positively motivate his political decisions. In a speech at Georgetown, Ryan has said,
“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” Ryan said. “What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding of the problems of the day.”
This article explains how Paul Ryan’s economic plans echo the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. What interests me most is why the principle of subsidiarity is a Catholic principle. It is Catholic because it is an outgrowth of the Catholic understanding of individual responsibility and freedom. These personal, social and political principles: (freedom and responsibility) are a direct outgrowth of Catholic theology and anthropology. We believe that each human person is created in God’s image and are therefore created with free will. They have power to act. They are able not only to make choices, but to follow through and take action. This personal freedom is one of humanity’s greatest potentialities and strengths. Linked with personal freedom is personal responsibility. If I would have freedom I must exercise that freedom responsibly. I must be aware of the consequences of my decisions and actions. I must weight up the possible rewards and punishments that flow naturally from the exercise of my free will. I must weigh up how my decisions and actions influence other people and society in general.
The principle of freedom and responsibility are woven into the fabric of what it means to be human. Read more.
More on the Ryan pick from Creative Minority Report. Deacon Kandra has a round up on Ryan’s Catholicism here. Deacon Fournier was at the Ryan launch in Virginia and reports here. Kathryn Lopez has an excellent article with good links to Ryan’s background and his work on the budget and how that relates to his Catholic calling. Go here.