Always Toward Subsidiarity

Further to an earlier post pointing out that abortion isn't the only reason for Catholics to oppose any of the Democratic bills on health care reform, here's a grand interview with Bishop James Conley, Archbishop Chaput's auxiliary.

CNA: How could you summarize the USCCB's position on health care in general, and on the bills currently being discussed in Congress?

Bishop Conley: The Church regards basic health care for everyone as a right, not a privilege. That's the principle, and it applies especially to the poor, the unborn child, the immigrant and the elderly. Of course, those services can legitimately be delivered in many different ways. That's a matter for elected officials to resolve. That's their job. The Catholic preference in approaching social problems is always toward subsidiarity. In other words, problems should be handled by the people and resources closest to the problem, at the lowest possible level. Government can certainly play a role in helping to solve the problems, and at times government involvement may be the only way to ensure justice. But for Catholics, government action is never the first, or even the preferred way, of resolving a social problem.

Regarding the bills currently in Congress: The bishops have stressed all along that health-care reform needs to exclude abortion and its funding. It needs to provide strong conscience protections for medical professionals and institutions. Despite all the claims to the contrary, none of the bills currently facing Congress adequately addresses these needs.

Obviously, we also need a system we can pay for. It needs to be grounded in economic reality, and financially sound. That's also a moral issue, and every parent knows it from experience. We can't help anyone if we're insolvent.

First bishop I've seen to point out (by implication at least) that the root of social justice is simple justice -- major principles of which include: don't incur debt unnecessarily; pay off old debts before taking on new ones; pay your debts and: don't make promises you can't keep.