Imagine you read a statement like this in the New York Times:
Jon O’Brien, a Catholic and president of “Catholics for Choice” says that the prohibition of artificial contraception in Catholic teaching is historically contingent. It matters, Mr. O’Brien said, that Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae” was written in 1968, not today.
“In the sexual revolution, the church was concerned about sex, and not just libertinism but savage libertinism,” Mr. O’Brien said. “People were being brutalized. That’s just not the case in America today.”
A rather ridiculous statement, right? Well, rest assured, Mr. O”Brien never said this. Instead, the New York Times reported the following comments by the Acton Institute’s Robert Sirico:
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, a Catholic priest and the author of “Defending the Free Market,” says that the importance of unions in Catholic teaching is historically contingent. It matters, Father Sirico said, that Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” was written in 1891, not today.
“In the industrial revolution, the church was concerned about communism, and not just capitalism but savage capitalism,” Father Sirico said. “People were being brutalized. That’s just not the case in Pittsburgh today.”
Equally ridiculous! As Vincent Miller points out, the Church’s teachings on unions are rooted deeply in the natural law – they are forms of “private society” that serve as vital mediating institutions. If you do not see the importance of unions, then you simply don’t understand subsidiarity.