The following information was consolidated by Coalition of Concerned Catholic Families
The Principle of Subsidiarity
Based in part on The Pontifical Council for the Familys Document the Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (TMHS) Guidelines for Education Within the Family
Parents are the first and most important educators of their children, and they also possess a fundamental competency in this area: they are educators because they are parents. They share their individual mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State. But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the principle of subsidiarity (TMHS, 23). There are two key concepts in this paragraph that are both interconnected and interdependent: (1) that parents are the primary educators of their children, and (2) the principle of subsidiarity. The keyword in this paragraph is the word but. What comes after the word but defines how and when the Church may become involved in the education of children.
The Principle of Subsidiarity
Understanding the principle of subsidiarity is, therefore, paramount to understanding the Catholic Churchs limited and proper role (i.e. the USCCB, arch/dioceses, parishes, Catholic schools, CCD programs) in educating children in areas pertaining to chastity formation and human sexuality including all programs attempting to fulfill the USCCB Article 12 mandate.
What is the principle of subsidiarity? Where did it come from?
2 Pope Pius XI, May 15, 1931 introduced the principle of subsidiarity in his Encyclical entitled, Quadragesimo Anno (QA): the ...most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them...(n. 79) Therefore, those in power should be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among the various associations, in observance of the principle of "subsidiary function," the stronger social authority and effectiveness will be the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State (n. 80).
Official Church teaching establishes the basis for the principle of subsidiarity by declaring that it is:
- gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own - - initiative and industry and give it to the community."
- an injustice and at the same time a grave evil.
- a disturbance of right order.
3 According to the principle of subsidiarity, a community of a higher order (i.e. the USCCB, arch/dioceses, parishes) should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order (i.e. family), depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good (Centesimus annus, 48).
4 The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states, The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good" (n. 1883).
5 The principle of subsidiarity argument is often used by the Catholic Church when dealing with social issues and family rights world wide.
6 The principle of subsidiarity is, therefore, neither exclusive to TMHS nor isolated from it; it is a universal principle given by the Church ("a community of higher order") which is altogether authoritative, just and necessary to preserve "right order" and the dignity and rights of parents and families ("a community of lower order"). These attributes, then, must necessarily be embraced and advanced by the Church in her relationship with its members, the Body of Christ.
Church has a Subordinate Role
7 The role which others can carry out in helping parents is always (a) subsidiary, because the formative role of the family is always preferable, and (b) subordinate, that is, subject to the parents attentive guidance and control. Everyone must observe the right order of cooperation and collaboration between parents and those who can help them in their task. It is clear that the assistance of others must be given first and foremost to parents rather than to their children (TMHS, 145).
8 In fulfilling a ministry of love to their own children, parents should enjoy the support and cooperation of the other members of the Church. The rights of parents must be recognized, protected and maintained, not only to ensure solid formation of children and young people, but also to guarantee the right order of cooperation and collaboration between parents and those who can help them in their task. Likewise, in parishes or apostolates, clergy and religious should support and encourage parents in striving to form their own children. In their turn, parents should remember that the family is not the only or exclusive formative community. Thus they should cultivate a cordial and active relationship with other persons who can help them, while never forgetting their own inalienable (not to be transferred to another or given away by the possessor) rights (Ibid., 148).
1 The USCCB Mandate violates the principle of subsidiarity and is therefore indefensible.
2. Requiring children to participate in arch/diocesan mandated 'safe environment' programs violates the principle of subsidiarity and is therefore indefensible.
3. Requiring children to participate in a parish mandated 'safe environment' program violates the principle of subsidiarity and is therefore indefensible.
Recall what Pope Pius XI said in 1931, that it is: (1) gravely wrong to take from individuals (i.e., parents) what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community (i.e., the Church, USCCB, Cardinals, Arch/Bishops, Priests, DREs, CCD teachers), (2) an injustice and at the same time a grave evil, and (3) a disturbance of right order.
Therefore, the Coalition concludes that based on the evidence presented from official Church sources:
1. The USCCB Safe Environment Mandate violates Church teaching.
2. Mandated Arch/diocesan Child Protection Programs violate Church teaching.
3. Mandated parish Child Protection Programs violate Church teaching.
4. Secular programs such as Child Lures, Good Touch Bad Touch, Talk About Touching, Safe Touch, Virtus and others violate Church teaching.
5. Any Formation in Christian Chastity Program that is imposed upon parents and children violates Church teaching.
More to come...
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