We have to do this ourselves, government is getting out of control with spending.

So now that it’s ‘tax time’ again in America, (like April 15th is somehow emblematic of our financial and economic morass…), we’re getting little features in the press about deadlines and dollars and IRS forms and expense calculations.

Let’s calculate this….our rights and duties as moral citizens to provide for the well-being of our own, and our neighbors. Or, as Dr. Donald Condit put it so well, our Health Care Rights, and Wrongs.

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi promoted passage of Sunday’s health care reform bill, she invoked Catholic support. However, those who assert the right to health care and seek greater responsibility for government as the means to that end, are simply wrong. This legislation fails to comport with Catholic social principles…We can clearly agree on responsibility to care for our neighbor and yet not promote federal dominion over doctors and nurses.

Some mistakenly quote Pope John XXIII‘s 1963 Encyclical Letter Pacem In Terris (Peace on Earth) discussing “the right to live… the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services (11).” In this context, the Holy Father speaks of health care as a natural right, with corresponding responsibilities, not as a direct obligation of the state. Nowhere in Pacem In Terris is government assigned accountability for food, clothing, shelter or health care.

Condit notes ‘there are options for society to meet this duty apart from federal government,’ and makes a good case for how Pope Benedict prescribed the best solution in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

“The four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity…offer a framework for viewing and addressing the imperatives facing mankind at the dawn of the 21st century…The heart of the matter is how solidarity and subsidiarity can work together in the pursuit of the common good in a way that not only respects human dignity, but allows it to flourish.”

That’s a neat little package of thought that pretty much says it all. But it all has to start with the first principle.

…Respect for Dignity of the Human Person, is prerequisite. Health care reform is meaningless without it. Life must be safeguarded from conception to natural death. Tax dollars must not subsidize abortion or euthanasia. This principle must apply on both ends of the stethoscope, respecting both patient and provider.

That’s why America’s Founders declared among other self-evident truths that the first inalienable right, endowed by the Creator, is to life.

Condit makes some good points about the reform we may have tried before the draconian one Congress went for, suggesting that…

Moving forward with incremental improvements that are achievable with consensus is more prudential than comprehensive, and unaffordable, legislation without bipartisan agreement and popular approval.

Policy changes could approach more universal coverage without tremendous additional cost. Tax and insurance market reforms could increase premium affordability and policy portability.

And the bulky, perplexing ‘S’ word the Church likes to use but with little widespread public comprehension of its pretty radical impact….’Subsidiarity’. Which Condit explains:

…Subsidiarity, emphasizes providing care by those closest to persons in need. A community of a higher order in society should not assume tasks belonging to a community of lower order and deprive it of its authority. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which…generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.”

This president should understand that well. It’s what ‘community organizing’ is really all about.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....