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Catholic Social Teachings

The Catholic Church has a 120-year tradition of teachings that lift up the life and dignity of humanity, and all of creation. The church takes a compassionate and just stance, rooted in Sacred Scripture, on issues including education, the role of government, just war, labor unions, just war, abortion and racism. A great resource to quickly learn what the church says about an was created by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Further information can be learned through the Vatican website about Catholic Social Doctrine.

Two important areas of Catholic Social Teaching that regard the Ryan budget are:

Subsidiarity & Solidarity

Subsidiarity calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. Rep. Ryan has mentioned this value in talking about his policies but has misunderstood it to mean we should leave struggling people and communities to their own devices. Subsidiarity also demands that higher levels of government provide help - “subsidium”- when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic recession, high unemployment, and persistent poverty.

Rep. Ryan seems to divorce subsidiarity from the value of solidarity with others, especially the poor. The value of solidarity was praised extensively by Pope John Paul II, who called it "a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (On Social Concern, #38).

According to Pope Benedict XVI: "Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.”

Preferential Option for the Poor

The US bishops reiterated this principle in their letters to Congress this spring: "The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first." They also said it repeatedly 25 years ago in their 1986 pastoral letter Economic Justice for All:

The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes. (#94)

The way society responds to the needs of the poor through its public policies is the litmus test of its justice or injustice. (#123)

Additional information:

Bishop Stephen E. Blair writes to US Senators about the "Circle of Protection."

Fr. Robert Barron Discusses the Gospel Of "Prosperity"