A. T. Jones:

In a 1895 General Conference "Third Angel's Message" sermon on "The Papacy", A. T. Jones offers a penetrating analysis of the reported thinking of Leo XIII and its future implementation by papal policy in the United States, Europe, and ultimately the whole world.  Note the highlighted passages below:

Our lesson tonight will be the study of the papacy, as it was last night on the image of the papacy. I would say, now as then, all that I am doing at present is setting before you the evidence, stating the case; the arguments will come more fully after we see what is to be built upon them. The statements I shall read tonight will all be from Catholic authorities--Catholic speeches and Catholic papers. . . .

Now I turn to some other statements made last fall in connection with the then coming encyclical of the pope. A letter from Rome dated October 14, 1894, printed in the Catholic Standard of November 3, 1894, has this:

"The United States of America, it can be said without exaggeration, is the chief thought of Leo XIII in the government of the Roman and universal Catholic church."

I would like to comment a little upon this as we go along. Why is it that Leo thinks so constantly of the United States? Oh, it is concerning the government of the Roman and universal Catholic church. Then what he proposes to use the United States for is for some purpose in the government of the Catholic church throughout the world. . . .

This is explained more fully presently that the papacy is watching the times to come with an all absorbing interest. She proposes to prepare herself in every way to meet the things that are to arise, as she says, in the times to come; and she proposes to use the United States by which, and through which, to clothe herself and prepare herself to meet successfully these things that are to arise in the times to come. So I will read further upon that same point now:

"The interest is the necessity in which Rome finds she is, to direct her general course according to the signs of the times and the transformations on the agitated surface of the world. The peculiar conception is the deep-rooted feeling that the Church of Europe must renew its instruments and its method of adapting unchanging principles to changeable surroundings and new conditions. . . . In this evolution the Church, in the eyes of the Pope, has a mission to fill. To fulfill this mission she must adapt herself to the changes which have come about the action of universal forces. State Church, official Catholicism, privileges, legal and close relations between two powers, connection of the clergy with a political party, feudal ecclesiastical organizations, all the external framework of the Church must be transformed, renewed, perhaps be done away with entirely. That is the central dominating thought which marks the whole latter half of the present pontificate from the time of the incident of the Knights of Labor and encyclical Rerum Novarum to that of the encyclical to the French people. In the first half of his reign Leo XIII had pacified, appeased, healed. He had been the pope of peace and rest. After sealing that charter he became the pope of action. But how can this new type of ecclesiastic be created?

Where can he get the clergy, the form of ecclesiastic through which this scheme can be carried out and be made successful for Europe and for the world? Because Europe has to be rejuvenated, remodeled, re-enlivened. Where is she going to get the model upon which to remold Europe?

From whom shall he be copied? What civilization, what country, what philosophy will provide him? Would it not be hazardous to create him at one stroke? Would it not be better to join forces with a nation which has a type in part, where, at least, it exists in the rough? Would it not be enough to mark the outlines boldly to finish it and make use of it? This type is the American type; it is American democracy, with liberty, with common law, a full and exuberant life, without restraining bonds, and without a historic bureaucracy. . . ."

The papacy is very impatient of any restraining bonds; in fact, it wants none at all. And the one grand discovery Leo XIII has made, which no pope before him ever made, is that turn which is taken now all the time by Leo and from him by those who are managing affairs in this country--the turn that is taken upon the clause of the Constitution of the United States: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Leo has made the discovery that the papacy can be pushed upon this country in every possible way and by every possible means and that congress is prohibited from ever legislating in any way to stop it. That is a discovery that he made that none before him made and that is how it is that he of late can so fully endorse the United States Constitution. . .

Thus the papacy in plain violation of the Constitution will crowd herself upon the government and then hold up that clause as a barrier against anything that any would do to stop it. And every one that speaks against this working of the papacy, behold! He "is violating the Constitution of the United States" in spirit, because the constitution says that nothing shall ever be done in respect to any religion or the establishment of it. When a citizen of the United States would rise up and protest against the papacy and all this that is against the letter and the spirit of the constitution, behold! He does not appreciate "the liberty of the constitution. We are lovers of liberty; we are defenders of the constitution; we are glad that America has such a symbol of liberty" as that. Indeed they are.

That is why Pope Leo XIII turns all his soul, full of ideality, to what is improperly called his American policy. It should be rightly called his Catholic universal policy.

What, then, is his policy in the United States? It is universal policy. That which is done in the United States by the papacy is done with the idea of influencing all the world and bringing all the world into line with the papal ideas, and to build all once more upon the basic and fundamental principles thereof.  (The Papacy.)

Stephen D. Mumford, Ph.D.

The antiabortion movement in the United States was created in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion. However, it really owes its origin to a group of men in Rome 103 years earlier. This was 1870, the year of Vatican Council I, a conclave of great importance in recent church history. Why is this so?

Hans Kung, the renowned Swiss Catholic theologian, best summed up the problem accounting for its creation when he said, "It is not possible to solve the problem of contraception until we solve the problem of infallibility."(1) In his book, How the Pope Became Infallible, Catholic historian Bernhard Hasler describes in great detail what Hans Kung meant by this. For a period of five years, Hasler had enjoyed unlimited access to all Vatican Council I documentation in the Vatican archives. Hasler's book has enormous implications for understanding the origins of the antiabortion movement. Hasler wrote that, for more than a millennium, the Vatican had possessed temporal power which ensured its survival. With the loss of the Papal States in 1870, it appeared all but certain that a strong Papacy would simply disappear. The Vatican urgently needed a new source of power.

A group of conservative and influential leaders, including Pope Pius IX, came up with a brilliant idea for a new source; an infallible pope. What is infallibility? According to Catholic dogma, the pope is God's representative on earth and God guides him as he cares for his flock. When the pope formulates a doctrine, he is simply transmitting this dogma on God's behalf. Therefore, the teaching cannot possibly be in error. Thus, the pope's teachings are infallible.

Roman Catholics could be certain that the teachings of the pope and of God were one and the same, and if strictly followed, one's entrance into heaven was guaranteed. Communicants found this concept very attractive and were eager to behave in any manner required of them. Such an arrangement placed enormous control of individuals into the hands of the Vatican, extending across national borders and even to the other side of the world. Since it could never be in the wrong, the Vatican had its urgently needed new source of power. It could no longer control the laity by means of its governance, as it had in the Papal States which would later become Italy. But the Holy See could exercise control directly by adopting a policy of psychological coercion founded on a new doctrine—that of papal infallibility.


This was a brilliant concept—and it worked—for a century. But at its introduction in 1870, the Catholic intelligentsia, among them theologians, historians and bishops, recognized that at some point in the future, this principle would lead to self-destruction of the institution. Times were certain to change and in unpredictable ways.

This decision would lock the Church into an inexorable course—teachings that could not be changed without destroying the principle of infallibility itself. Thoughtful Catholics foresaw that this would immediately become the fundamental principle of the Church, upon which all other Catholic dogma would rest—its very foundation. They understood that if this principle were undermined and destroyed at some future date, all Church teachings would collapse around the eroded foundation and the institution itself would be devastated. They were convinced that one day, encumbered by her unchangeable teachings, the Church would find itself down a blind alley from which there would be no escape and faced with inevitable self-destruction as a result of a grave loss of credibility. These distinguished scholars were strongly opposed to this principle and, as a consequence, many of them left the Church. The blind alley turned out to be the issue of birth control—contraception and abortion.

Since the 1968 adoption of the papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae, there has been a hemorrhage in the Church's credibility. Humanae Vitae ruled out any change of the Church's position on birth control for all time.


But who is the Religious Right? The Spring 1994 issue of Conscience, the journal of Catholics For a Free Choice, exploded the myth that the Religious Right is a Protestant movement. It was designed, created and controlled by Catholics in response to the Pastoral Plan. These Catholics recruited opportunistic Protestants to give the appearance that Protestants were the instigators. The leadership is Catholic but the followers are often Protestant. As mentioned earlier, The National Catholic Reporter predicted that the Bishops' Pastoral Plan would lead to the creation of a new political party, an American Catholic Party. (17) But instead, the Vatican simply chose to seize control of the Republican Party.

The outcomes of the Plan have been truly remarkable. And they have implications for all Americans.  (WHY THE POPE CAN'T CHANGE THE CHURCH'S POSITION ON BIRTH CONTROL: IMPLICATIONS FOR AMERICANS)

Dr. John M Swomley

Emeritus Professor of Social ethics at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri

It was the Vatican’s program that dominated the Republican Party platform and presidential campaign in 1996, although Ralph Reed and the Christian coalition claimed the credit.

After winning the Republican primaries, candidate Robert Dole made a major speech to the Catholic Press Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia on May 23, in which he endorsed “school choice,” which involves the funding of parochial schools through tuition tax vouchers. He also attacked President Clinton’s late term or “partial birth” abortion veto and, in the context of abortion, said, “Though not a Catholic, I would listen to Pope John Paul II.”

The word “listen” in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, is defined as “give heed, take advice.”

Immediately following that speech, Dole had a 20-minute meeting with Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia. On June 25, Dole had an hour-long private meeting with Cardinal John O’Connor of New York City in which they discussed Dole’s commitment to the papal position on abortion (and presumably family planning) as well as his strategy to persuade moderate pro-choice Republicans to accept an anti-abortion platform. ‘When a reporter asked O’Connor if he was comfortable with Dole’s efforts to seek tolerance for pro-choice Republicans, the cardinal endorsed Dole’s plan by saying, “I cannot imagine that Senator Dole will deviate from his commitment on abortion.” He also said, “I think that Senator Dole has a wonderfully pro-life record and I doubt very much that that’s going to change in any significant way.”

Although Dole did not request a joint photo, the cardinal posed with Dole for a picture for the New York Times which appeared the next day on the front page as an obvious endorsement.

On July 18, Dole spoke to a Catholic audience at Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee where, according to the New York Times, he emphasized his proposal for “vouchers paying $1,000 a year in tuition for pupils in grades one through eight and $1,500 a year for high school students. States that had adopted voucher programs would apply for federal assistance” and the “federal government would provide $2.5 billion a year to be matched” by the state.

Bob Dole chose Rep. Henry Hyde as head of the Republican platform committee. Hyde is generally regarded as the Catholic bishops’ spokesperson in Congress. Hyde, in turn, according to the National Catholic Reporter, invited Catholics to help him develop the party’s 1996 platform. In an open letter to Catholics, he wrote: “Catholics are a powerful voice for moral authority and fulfill a growing leadership role in the Republican Party,” noting that “there are nine U.S. senators, 55 members of the House, and nine governors who are both Republican and Catholic.” His letter also said, “As a Catholic, I believe the basic principles of Catholic teaching are philosophically and morally aligned with those of the Republican Party.”

The Catholic Political Agenda

However, although Dole’s endorsement of the Catholic political agenda, along with a similar endorsement by the Republican Party platform, made the Republican Party in effect a religious or sectarian party, it is even more significant that the Catholic bishops took action to aid the Republican Party. The president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland, departed from custom to tell the 250 bishops that, although they should not engage in partisan politics, they could address political issues that might be closer to the views of one party. Then, after a “stinging attack on President Clinton’s veto of a measure that banned a type of late-term abortion,” the bishops, according to the June 24 New York Times, “unanimously endorsed [Dole’s] appeal to Congress to overturn the veto.”

The bishops tried to paint President Clinton as an extremist, whereas a progressive Catholic, Jesuit priest Robert Drinan, said, “Congress should sustain the veto, because the bill does not provide an exception for women whose health is at risk, and it would be virtually unenforceable.” Drinan said that opponents are "using Mr. Clinton’s veto as a political weapon.”

The New York Times said that “orders had been placed” by the Conference of Bishops for more than nine million sets of post cards urging Congress to overturn the veto. This political campaign obviously made the bishops’ political position felt throughout the country. On no issue other than abortion and birth control have the bishops been so openly active.

The reason has been clearly stated by the Vatican’s point man in the United States, Cardinal John O’Connor. In an April 3, 1992 speech to the most right-wing of Catholic universities, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, he said, “The fact is that attacks on the Catholic church’s stance on abortion, unless they are rebutted effectively, erode church authority in all matters, indeed the authority of God himself.” He said, according to the April 9 edition of his newspaper, Catholic New York.

Abortion has become the number one challenge for the Church in the United States because. ..if the Church’s authority is rejected on such a crucial question as human life...then questioning of the Trinity becomes child’s play, as does questioning the divinity of Christ or any other Church teaching.

O’Connor’s comments are not an over statement. The Vatican has made this its highest priority. On March 25, 1995 the pope issued an encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, which is an explicit instruction to obedient Catholics in Congress, state legislators, and even to Supreme Court justices in their official capacity, to oppose any laws or proposed laws which would permit abortion. Specifically, the pope said, “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is never licit to obey it, or take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.”

The Modus Operandi for Trying to Impose Papal Authority

The Vatican wants to extend its authority over civil law, not only in countries with Catholic majorities but in others with religiously diverse populations. The Catholic bishops have decided to try to impose papal authority in the United States through the abortion issue. Their Committee for Pro-Life Activities is the best-funded of the bishops’ thirteen secretariats and committees, with a budget of$1.8 million in 1993. It is more than three times the next largest budget, that of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, and four times the budget of the Secretariats for Laity, Women, Family, and Youth, according to the latest published information by Catholics for a Free Choice.

The Birth Control Issue Waiting in the Wings

The abortion issue is also a cover for opposition to birth control, since the Vatican claims that contraceptives that function after intercourse - such as the “morning after” pill or an intra uterine device - are really abortifacients because they operate to prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. Therefore, all family-planning programs worldwide are opposed.

Reagans collaboration with the Vatican seriously impeded family planning activities in many countries, including curtailing the availability of contraceptives, and thereby contributed to increasing the total world population.

The bishops were successful in dominating the Reagan and Bush administrations on this issue, as revealed in the February 4, 1992 issue of Time magazine. That article, entitled “The U.S. and The Vatican on Birth Control,” began with this sentence: “In response to concerns of the Vatican, the Reagan Administration agreed to alter its foreign aid program to comply with the church’s teaching on birth control.” This, according to William Wilson (the first U.S. ambassador to the Holy See after Reagan established diplomatic recognition) resulted in the withdrawal of U.S. funding of international family-planning organizations, including the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.

“American policy was changed as a result of the Vatican’s not agreeing with our policy,” Wilson asserted. “American aid programs around the world did not meet the criteria the Vatican had for family planning.” Therefore, when the Reagan administration sent State Department representatives to Rome, Wilson said, “I’d accompany them to meet the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.”

In an accompanying article in the same issue of Time, there is a report of Reagan’s first meeting with the pope in 1982 and of other meetings between the Vatican’s U.S. representative, Pio Laghi, and Reagan officials. According to that article, “the key administration players were all devout Roman Catholics”: CIA director William Casey, National Security Advisor Richard Allen, National Security Advisor William Clark, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, and Ambassador-at-Large Vernon Walters, as well as Wilson.

Reagan’s collaboration with the Vatican seriously impeded family planning activities in many countries, including curtailing the availability of contraceptives, and thereby contributed to increasing the total world population. The United Nations Fund for Population Activities in 1991 stated, “World population, which reached 5.4 billion in mid-1991, is growing faster than ever before: three people every second, more than 250,000 every day. At the beginning of the decade the annual addition was 93 million.”

The consequences are enormous. The editor of the National Catholic Reporter, in an editorial in the June 19, 1992 issue, said, “I feel the church is causing great harm to the planet, making millions suffer unnecessarily....Among today’s 5.2 billion as many as one fifth, mostly children, are undernourished. About 1 million die from hunger or hunger-related causes yearly.” (Estimates vary, however. The 1992 UNICEF report, “State of the World’s Children,” said that a quarter of a million are allowed to die every week from malnutrition-related causes; that is 13 million a year.)

Moreover, those hunger-related problems have led to massive economic migrations which, in turn, have led to population wars such as those in Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, and in India where “nine or ten million refugees from East Pakistan were driven out.” There are now, according to the 1996 World Almanac, 5.8 million refugees in Africa and 5.488 million in the Middle East, to say nothing of economic migration into California, Texas, and Florida from Mexico, Central and South America, Haiti, and Cuba.

In short, the Reagan-Bush-Dole policy of collaborating with the Vatican has had serious effects on U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

Catholic Lay Elites Pressed into Political Service for the Vaticans Agenda

The Time articles also revealed that the Vatican works in various countries through lay people who function politically without apparent connection to the Vatican. The major study of the Vatican’s use of Catholic laity throughout Europe was made by Catholic Professor Jean-Guy Villaincourt of the University of Montreal in his book, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Law Catholic Elites. Villaincourt in his concluding summary said in part, “The Catholic lay militant has been pressed into service as an.. .intermediary between the Papacy and the modern state.” In Europe, it is Catholic Action and the Christian Democratic Party which assume “direct political responsibilities” that the Hierarchy must shun. In the Untied States, it is the Catholic Campaign for America, which was organized in 1991. Its “ecclesiastical adviser” is the ubiquitous Cardinal O’Connor, but the laity on the CCA board and national committee function without publicizing their role in the organization.

Among them are William L. Bennett, who was Reagan’s Secretary of Education and who often appeared with Bob Dole as his advisor on vouchers for parochial schools, and presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, whose role was to maintain a hard-line stance on the Catholic agenda so that the Republican plat form would reflect it. Buchanan insisted on continuing in the 1996 primaries even after it was obvious he could not win the nomination. He said he was “not after any seat or promotion or anything like that” but wanted “to remake and reshape the Republican Party.” He insisted that his major aim was to keep the “right to life” plank in the Republican platform.

The overall mission of the Catholic Campaign for America is “to activate Catholic citizens, increase the Catholic electorate’s influence in formulating public policy, and focus the public’s attention on the richness and beauty of Catholic teaching.” A 1992 newsletter of the Catholic Campaign declared that “separation of church and state is a false premise that must finally be cast aside.”

At the Republican Convention in San Diego a small group of right wing leaders including such Catholics as Phyllis Schlafly and Bay Buchanan (Pat’s sister and campaign manager) collaborated with Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer and Henry Hyde, the platform committee chairman, to thwart Dole’s effort to include tolerance for pro-choice Republicans in the party platform. Hyde had already loaded the decisive subcommittee with anti-abortionists so that Dole could not control it.

Phyllis Schlafly and Ralph Reed had organized delegates under their respective control who numbered over five hundred. They selected and trained delegates to work on the convention floor with regional groups. The Christian Coalition, for example, had a “war room” and instructed each of their five “whips” to whom had been assigned twenty delegates, each with a pager and hand-held computer.

Voucher programs would not only subsidize the existing racially motivated schools but would accelerate white flight elsewhere.

Together Schlafly and Reed’s people informed the Dole campaign that they had the troops to disrupt the convention if there were an attempt on the floor to alter the anti-abortion plank In other words, a minority of well-organized right wing Catholics and Protestants were unwilling to have a democratic convention vote. Dole and others in his campaign yielded to a disciplined religious power group without a bow to pro-choice Republicans.

The Old Parochiaid Gets a New Name: School Choice

Dole’s other major Catholic obligation was aid to parochial schools through “school choice.” The Second Vatican Council’s decree on Christian education states:

“Parents, who have a primary and inalienable duty and right in regard to the education of their children, should enjoy the fullest liberty in their choice of school. The public authority therefore, whose duty is to protect and defend the liberty of the citizen, is bound, according to the principles of distributive justice, to ensure that public subsidies to schools are so allocated that the parents are truly free to select schools for their children in accordance with their conscience.”

The phrase “distributive justice” is an Aristotelian idea that superior status or contribution to society entitled one to greater benefits from that society. It was an aristocratic principle that denied the benefits of Greek citizenship to slaves. The medieval world in which Roman Catholic structure, theology and social principles were largely formed was not opposed to this idea of distribution in proportion to status.

What this means in America is taking money from the public school system and giving it to the largest private-school system - Catholic schools - using parents as conduits. A comparatively smaller group of other religious schools would also benefit, as would private schools in the South and North to which whites have fled integrated public schools.

Distributive justice is based upon the assumption that certain parents as taxpayers are being denied justice if they do not get what they pay in taxes so they can choose private schools. However, the public schools exist to serve the entire community by lifting the level of literacy, education, and ability of citizens to participate in a democracy. Older citizens and those without children do not expect to have their taxes returned.

How Aristotles Scheme Would Play in Peoria

A study of the way a voucher program would work in Pennsylvania based on $900 for each student in the state revealed that, because private schools are generally located in wealthy neighborhoods, “two thirds of the funds authorized by this plan would flow into the eight Pennsylvania counties with the highest per capita incomes, while none of the funds would go to the state’s poorest counties.” This means that the state’s poorest counties would be paying additional taxes to support the richest counties.

An examination of the top 51 private-school counties in the United States similarly reveals how tax money would flow into religious schools to the detriment of public schools in the same county and state. For example, in Carroll County, Iowa, the first of the counties studied, the Catholic church population is 62.4 percent, and 37.8 percent of the students are in private schools. In Sioux City, Iowa in the second highest county, the Dutch Reformed churches are dominant, and 37.4 percent of the students are in private schools.

Membership in the Roman Catholic church is a paramount factor in all 51 counties, ranging between 20.3 and 37.8 percent of all students in religious schools, even without a voucher program. A number of prosperous suburbs with strong Catholic identities are in the top 51, including Jefferson County, Louisiana; the Philadelphia suburban counties of Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks; St. Louis County, Missouri; and the Kentucky counties (suburban to Cincinnati) of Kenton and Campbell. There is thus often a correlation between religious schools and higher incomes.

In general, large cities with historically Catholic communities (Philadelphia, Jersey City, Boston, Wilmington, Cleveland, New Orleans, and San Francisco) are in the top 51 counties. Voucher support of 20 percent to 40 percent of the student population would mean that state taxes to support the private schools would have to come not only from the counties with high private-school populations but also from the counties with few, if any private schools. The families with children in private schools would bene fit substantially, while those in public schools and those with no children would correspondingly lose tax revenue. For example, a family with five children receiving a $3,000 tuition voucher per child would pass along that money to their parochial school which would get the $15,000 and which would thus benefit enormously, while the public-school family would suffer from the corresponding reduction in per-pupil aid to the public schools.

There is also a correlation between race and private school enrollment. In the two dozen most heavily African-American counties in the nation, 11 percent of all elementary and secondary students attended white private schools in 1990, compared to the 9.8 percent average for all U.S. states. In Georgia, high private school counties had black populations higher than statewide. In Humphries County, Mississippi, 17.9 percent of all students attended private schools, and in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, 21.4 percent. No figures are available to determine white flight from black areas in the larger cities of the North. However, voucher programs would not only subsidize the existing racially motivated schools but would accelerate white flight elsewhere.

Another motivation for school choice is the desire to enroll minority students of other religions. Jesuit priest Thomas J. Reese notes:

“Catholic schools are the most successful evangelizing tool available to the church in the black community... .Most schools teach the Catholic faith to both Catholic and non-Catholic students.”

One illustration of this is Chicago’s Holy Angels School, which President Reagan visited to propose tuition financial aid for parents to send their children to nonpublic schools. Reagan called it “the nation’s largest black Catholic school.” The Washington Post reported that in order to attend that school both the children and their parents had to be instructed in Catholicism, which resulted in about 80 to 150 Catholic converts a year.

Moreover, the American Catholic bishops will continue to use parochial schools as instruments of political retaliation or benefit, as evident in the Archdiocese of St. Louis forbidding parochial school students to hear President Clinton speak in suburban St. Louis on May 17, 1996 because of the President’s stand on abortion.

There is little doubt about the fact that Bob Dole and the Republican Party sold out to the Vatican in spite of those moderate Republicans and progressive Catholics who still believe in separation of church and state and in protecting a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Republican candidates misjudged the Catholic vote. All twelve of the most numerically Catholic states, including those where Cardinals O’Connor, Bernadin, Law, Bevilacqua, and Mohoney presided, went for Clinton.  (The Vatican Connection: How the Roman Catholic Church Influences the Republican Party)


The reader who has already perused the article "The Principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church" has seen expounded a principle which tends to be little noticed, but which is very significant in the context of the alliance between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Republican Party in the United States.  The principle is called "Subsidiarity."  It advocates that:

. . . Some things fall within the competence of the public organization (the government) of the political community-as, for example, making laws, administering justice, and providing for the common defense. Other matters belong to private individuals; for example, whatever pertains to the family.[The last sentence is profoundly hypocritical, since the Roman Catholic Church is lobbying hard for legislation encroaching on private matters of birth control within the family, and for that matter in society at large.]

In addition, there is a broad range of activities in which both sectors, public and private, interact because the subject matter pertains to both for example, the production and distribution of goods, the promotion of scientific research and of the arts. Here the principle of the primacy of private initiative is to be strictly applied. In substance, this principle states that such activities belong in the first place to the individual person since they constitute part of his natural end. Consequently, they are the means by which a person perfects himself and cooperates in the perfecting of others.

. . . . The mission, of the state is to encourage, to assist, and when necessary to supplement the initiatives of its citizens.

The most well-known formulation of this principle was given by Pius XI: "That 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 social body, and never destroy or absorb them" (QA 79).

Three other principles can be discerned within the principle of subsidiarity: First, persons and small communities must enjoy the autonomy necessary to attain the ends and to carry out the activities within their own competence. Second, larger communities must aid the initiatives of those who come under their authority, neither stifling nor absorbing them. Third, the larger society must supply the deficiencies of persons and smaller communities when they are unable by themselves to promote the common good, and for so long as the deficiency should last.  (From "The Principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church" under "Subsidiarity"))

The foregoing is a minimalist approach to central government, and appears to be the explanation for the cooperative political activism of the Church of Rome and the Republican Party.  As astonishing as it may be that any Church would oppose national health coverage or social security, there are indications that in the United States at least the Roman Catholic hierarchy supports Republican opposition to social welfare programs administered by the central government.  For example, there is a substantial consensus in the nation that Paul Ryan's budget passed by the House of Representatives seeks to undermine and perhaps ultimately eliminate such programs.  (Cf.  Paul Ryan gets boost from Catholic bishops; The Catholicity of Paul Ryan’s Budget; Congressman Paul Ryan: Social teaching and the federal budget: a Catholic politician's views; Paul Ryan’s Assault On Vulnerable Americans Inconsistent With His Faith - [But it really isn't, when the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine is examined carefully;]  Cf. also, Reactionary Liberalism and Catholic Social Doctrine)

The principle of subsidiarity first captured the attention of Adventist Laymen's Foundation after the 2004 presidential election.  In the web document Theocratic Dictatorship we quoted a statement by the late Paul Weyrich on his Free Congress Foundation website, dated March 13, 2001, and titled "Bush Understands Catholic Principle of Subsidiarity," as follows:

"Before I get to the business of why I've called you," I said to President Bush's political guru Karl Rove, "I would be grateful if you would give your President a message from me." Rove was most obliging. "Tell him that he has mastered the art of Catholic governance," I said. Rove replied: "That's pretty good for a Methodist."

Rove went on to say that President Bush understands the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. I am not the only one who believes this is the case. The American Society of Tradition Family and Property (TFP), a very traditionalist group, says privately that Bush is more Catholic than any Catholic President who is electable in this country. . .

The principle of subsidiarity requires that when you minister to someone in need you begin with the unit closest to home. Only if you cannot satisfy the need at that level do you move beyond to mediating structures. If those structures fail, you would move to government, but you would begin at the local level. And again, if local government can't satisfy needs, only then would it be permissible to turn to the next level of government and so on. The bias in this principle is in favor of the family as the basic unit of society. Beyond the family, private institutions have the next bias, if you will, and government is only favored when private institutions fail completely, and then the bias is in favor of government which is closest to the people. . .

Already this President has been misjudged and misunderstood. I suspect that unless his friends and critics alike begin to understand his Catholicity, George Bush will continue to confound people. The Washington press corps isn't much schooled in theology. Before this Presidency concludes they may have to be. (Underscored emphasis added.)

It is unlikely that a clearer definition of "subsidiarity" can be found than that of Paul Weyrich quoted above.  Thus we find it stated by a knowledgeable Roman Catholic activist that George Bush was in the process of foisting "subsidiarity" on the nation of which he was President; however, the Roman Catholicization of the United States of America did not begin with the George Bush presidency.  It has been progressing steadily since the latter part of the 19th century, as documented by the Seventh-day Adventist Author Christian Edwardson in his book Facts of Faith.  (Cf Making America Catholic; Americanism Versus Romanism.)

There were ominous developments which we did note in a special issue of Watchman, What of the Night? dated April, 2001, that was titled The Forming of the Image to the Beast Is It Now Accomplished?  We noted the role of Roman Catholics in the coalition between them and the Protestant Christian Right, and President George Bush's promotion of "Compassionate Conservatism;" but the connection to "subsidiarity" and Roman Catholicism's "Natural Law" went unnoticed.

The presidencies of Bush the elder and younger were a progression from that of Ronald Reagan, who was first elected in 1980 amidst a flurry in the formation of new conservative organizations and religious right alliances.  ( Cf. "The Forming of the Image to the Beast Is It Now Accomplished.")  The power and influence of these organizations and alliances have grown to astonishing dimensions, and they can be seen on close inspection to be tentacles of the Roman Catholic Church.  Ronald Reagan himself formed a close alliance with the Vatican.  In a Time cover story titled "The Holy Alliance," Carl Bernstein wrote:

The key Administration players were all devout Roman Catholics -- CIA chief William Casey, Allen, Clark, Haig, Walters and William Wilson, Reagan's first ambassador to the Vatican. They regarded the U.S.-Vatican relationship as a holy alliance: the moral force of the Pope and the teachings of their church combined with their fierce anticommunism and their notion of American democracy. Yet the mission would have been impossible without the full support of Reagan, who believed fervently in both the benefits and the practical applications of Washington's relationship with the Vatican. One of his earliest goals as President, Reagan says, was to recognize the Vatican as a state "and make them an ally."

The title of another article published online, Political Power of Roman Catholic Bishops speaks for itself.  Collaboration between the Bishops and the Reagan administration figure largely in this report.  (Cf.  Panel Reflects on US-Vatican Relations.)  A biographical article titled The Life and Times of Pope John Paul II, states that,"Through the 1980s, Pope John Paul II met regularly with the head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, William Casey, and participated in what former U.S. National Security Advisor Richard Allen calls “the greatest secret alliance in history” between the Vatican and the Reagan Administration."  The pernicious nature of this alliance cannot be exaggerated.  The Image to the Beast was beginning to form; the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine was visibly shaping the political landscape.  On September 26, 1988, nearing the end of his presidency, Ronald Reagan made this statement in an address to the United Nations General Assembly:

And our own experience on this continent-the American experience—though brief, has had one unmistakable encounter, an insistence on the preservation of one sacred truth. It is a truth that our first President, our Founding Father, passed on in the first farewell address made to the American people. It is a truth that I hope now you'll permit me to mention in these remarks of farewell, a truth embodied in our Declaration of Independence: that the case for inalienable rights, that the idea of human dignity, that the notion of conscience above compulsion can be made only in the context of higher law, only in the context of what one of the founders of this organization, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, has called devotion to something which is greater and higher than we are ourselves. This is the endless cycle, the final truth to which humankind seems always to return: that religion and morality, that faith in something higher, are prerequisites for freedom and that justice and peace within ourselves is the first step toward justice and peace in the world and for the ages.  (Underscored emphasis added; Address to the 43d Session of the United Nations General Assembly.)

President Reagan was referring to Roman Catholicism's Natural Law.  The Free Online Dictionary defines "higher law" as "a principle that takes preceden[ce] over the laws of society."  Wikipedia the free encyclopedia states concerning "Rule according to higher law":

The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice. . . Thus, the rule according to a higher law may serve as a practical legal criterion to qualify the instances of political or economical decision-making, when a government, even though acting in conformity with clearly defined and properly enacted legal rules, still produces results which many observers find unfair or unjust. . ."Higher law" can be interpreted in this context as the divine or natural law or basic legal values, established in the international law."  (Emphasis added.)

It is astonishing to observe that there was not one reference to any "higher law" or principle of "higher law" in President George Washington's farewell address - not a single statement remotely bearing any similarity to what was claimed by Ronald Reagan.  (Cf.  WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS.)  President Reagan's statement was a distortion of fact; but he had acted on his "higher law" convictions.  His administration is correctly referred to as "the Reagan revolution.  Changes made in the laws of the United States set the nation on an irreversible course towards the full implementation of the Roman Catholic social doctrine.

In The Reagan presidency and the governing of America, by Lester M. Salamon and Michael S. Lund, the authors describe the modus operandi and accomplishments of the Reagan Administration.  Note the significance of the highlighted passages as follows:

In the first place, the Reagan administration appears to have succeeded significantly in shifting the terms of the national policy debate and in restoring, in the process, a considerable measure of public confidence in the presidency and in the workability of the political system. More than many of his predecessors, Ronald Reagan articulated a coherent new direction for national policy, sought public support for that new direction, and then got a substantial portion of it enacted and put into place.

In neither its general philosophy nor its theory of governance was the Reagan administration wholly consistent. As noted earlier. Reagan's world view combined traditional laissez-faire precepts with a more statist social philosophy that condoned the use of governmental authority to enforce discipline and control "immoral" social behavior. Furthermore, the administration's eagerness to reduce policy congestion at the center of the political system did not prevent it from centralizing control over executive branch policy development and political negotiation in the crucial areas of budgeting, program restructuring, and regulatory reform far more extensively than did previous administrations.

Despite these apparent contradictions, the Reagan administration did articulate a policy course for the nation that was reasonably clear, markedly different from what had gone before, and responsive to at least one facet of the popular mood. More than that, the administration put a significant portion of this new direction into operation. It did this most forcefully through passage of two landmark pieces of legislation: first, the 1981 Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act, which greatly expanded military spending, made significant cuts in a variety of domestic programs. and merged a number of categorical grant programs into block grants: and second, the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which reduced tax rates for both individuals and corporations and put a lid on further revenue growth by "indexing" tax rates beginning in 1975 so that rates decline when inflation increases.

Though the administration did not get everything it requested, these two pieces of legislation fundamentally changed the context of the national policy debate, and in the direction Reagan wanted. By reducing government revenue and clamping down on its future growth, the tax act in particular virtually guaranteed that new program initiatives would face extremely unfavorable odds and that key constituencies would have to battle mightily just to maintain existing benefits in the face of growing federal deficits. Moreover, through a series of administrative moves by its appointees, the administration limited the zealousness of enforcement in the social regulatory area and created a "hunker-down" atmosphere that placed the burden of proof back with the advocates of regulatory protection. The result has been a severe ratcheting down of expectations that has had ramifications throughout the political system.

Several factors seem to account for the Reagan administration's success in altering the terms of the national policy debate in this fashion. One was the apparent clarity and straightforwardness of the administration's basic philosophy, with its simple appeal to cut domestic spending. increase defense spending, and limit federal regulation. Equally important was the 1980 election. which, though hardly yielding a voter endorsement of the Reagan philosophy, nevertheless created a presumption that the electorate was eager for a change. A third factor was the speed with which the administration moved and the skill with which it took advantage of the reconciliation provisions of the Congressional Budget Act. The Reagan administration did not spend months analyzing possible alternative courses of action or endlessly reviewing the details of what it was proposing with myriad interest groups and congressional advocates. Rather, it assembled its proposals quickly on the basis of the warm afterglow of the election. thus catching its opponents thoroughly off guard.

Finally, the administration's success in changing the terms of the national policy debate resulted in no small part from the extraordinary political and communications skills of Ronald Reagan. By personalizing and humanizing the presidential office, Reagan managed to take the edge off what would otherwise have been perceived as insensitive policy directions. He did this by effortlessly projecting a basically ingenuous personality, by using anecdotes and homiletic appeals to widely felt values. and by conveying an unpretentious. friendly manner that avoided impersonal statistical argument, complex reasoning, and expressions of intense emotion such as bitterness or sarcasm. Reagan's operational style reinforced this image, leaving to White House aides and cabinet members much of the nitty-gritty detail of program content and political deal-cutting, white reserving for the president the high ground of general philosophy and public mobilization.

As a result of this style. the public dissociates its evaluation of the Reagan administration and its policies as a whole from its estimation of Reagan himself. Drawn to his attractive personality. large numbers of Americans have been willing to forgive Reagan or not hold him accountable for major failures of his administration. The political payoff for Reagan is that the positive feeling he instills toward himself helps to carry support for his policies, even though the policies per se are not being endorsed. Coupled with the strong performance of the economy, this contributed importantly to Reagan's overwhelming victory in the 1984 election.  (Pp. 17-19; underscored and italic emphasis added.)

The last two paragraphs quoted above bring to mind a certain prophecy of Rev. 16.  Elder Wm. H. Grotheer pointed out in relation to this prophecy that the amphibian used as a symbol in the prophecy catches its prey with its tongue.  This is a metaphor for taking control over minds by deceptive speech.  The highlighted passages in the preceding paragraphs reveal the degree of conformity of the Reagan Administration's policies with the principles of Roman Catholicism's "Natural Law."  What Ronald Reagan began in 1981 is being completed by Roman Catholic ideologues who are exercising inordinate influence over American public policy, allied with a torrent of propaganda financed by Roman Catholic billionaire propagandists.  What this has wrought is documented in an online essay titled "How Roman Catholic Neocons Peddle Natural Law into Debates about Life and Death," By Frank L. Cocozzelli.  The essay displays learning as well as cogent reasoning. It must be noted that it is the more authoritative because the author is a Roman Catholic; however, it is also to be expected that his view of the Holy Bible does not accord with the true Protestant adherence to Sola Scriptura. Because this essay emanates from within the world of Roman Catholicism it offers a unique view of the "Natural Law" as it is influencing civil legislation in the United States, enacted and lobbied to be enacted. Also worthy of note is that the essay is authored by an advocate for stem cell research in defiance of the Roman Catholic hierarchy's opposition to this scientific work.  It was written during the presidency of George Bush, the younger.  The author states:

Roman Catholic* neoconservatives such as Richard John Neuhaus have President George W. Bush's ear, and have succeeded in thwarting vital research using stem cells, research that has shown such promise in developing treatments for many diseases . . .

. . . . .

Many neoconservatives hold a kind of nihilistic respect for nature, and most importantly, the naturally ordered inequalities, such as between the weak and the strong and the rich and the poor. Meddling is ill-advised and doomed to create catastrophes worse than the original problems they sought to address, from their point of view. It isn't difficult to discern within the arguments of both Catholic neocon Robert P. George and secular neocon Eric Cohen their distaste for what they see as the radical egalitarian effect science and technology have had on society, a state of affairs that must seem intolerably subversive of the “natural order.” Moreover, the Catholic neocons view natural law as the true basis for a national moral order of all Americans.

. . . . .

Neoconservatives are tiny in number, yet large in influence due to their prolific writing, thinking, and support from wealthy patrons that locate them close to the corridors of power. It is a small movement of intellectuals that emerged in earnest opposing political trends of the 1960s, without a mass base and with only the power of their ideas and connections to win influence. Their vigorous defense of the free market, capitalism, and a militarist foreign policy wins them powerful allies. Yet other currents run through their thought, including a defense of natural law and the championing of religion.

“Natural law,” meaning the rules God set into motion in the world and also instilled in our own natures, has been a central, animating philosophical idea in Christian thought for a thousand years. However it has taken some important turns along the way, and there are now what we might call several branches of thought about the definition of natural law.

One of these, the Classic view, is embraced and promoted by the leading thinkers of Catholic neoconservatives in the United States and their political allies in conservative Protestant evangelicalism. Roman Catholicism as a whole employs natural law principles as a means to rationally explain and interpret the morality of Scripture. However, many in the Vatican have recently pressed to superimpose their particular interpretations on the greater secular society. This is driven by the belief that natural law principles are so universal that even non-Catholics are subject to their tenets.

On the religious Right’s hot button issues of the culture war—feminism, birth control, abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research—natural law-based ethics are routinely employed by the Catholic wing to refute the progressive position. This is important for a very powerful reason: one of its guiding principles is that any law that violates natural law (or at least the way orthodox Catholicism interprets natural law) should be ignored as unjust. What's more, evangelical social conservatives have been increasingly adopting natural law arguments in support of their shared opposition to issues they view as assaults on traditional values.

. . . . .

Catholic neoconservatives, like most neocons, are elitists who see social inequality as a natural condition of society. As a result, they often stress the need to control knowledge in order to better instruct the general populace. But unlike neocons such as Irving Kristol who tend to be either atheists or not terribly religious, theocons are traditionalist-minded Catholics, many with ties to ultra-conservative organizations such as Opus Dei.

The essay provides detailed information about the background, ideology, and influence of individual leading Catholic neoconservatives that is worth exploring.  It has this to say about Richard John Neuhaus (now deceased):

But perhaps the most influential of this group is Father Richard John Neuhaus, whose ideological and religious transformation is one of the more remarkable journeys in modern religious and political life. The one-time anti-Vietnam war Lutheran minister left behind radical left politics (as well as his Lutheranism) to become in 1990 a Roman Catholic priest and icon of the neoconservative movement. He promotes the civic power of religion as president of the Institute of Religion and Public Life, a neoconservative institute “whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public policy for the ordering of society."

Neuhaus has had the ear of President George W. Bush throughout his administration, as well as enjoying a direct line of communication with Pope Benedict XVI. Neuhaus, acting on directives from Rome, in 2004 pushed for the denial of the Sacrament of Communion to then-Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry for his prochoice, pro-embryonic stem cell research positions. But unlike Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who both opposed the 2003 Iraq War, Neuhaus (along with Novak and Weigel) openly argued for preemptive invasion.  (Underscored emphasis added)

Note the direct line of communication between Pope Benedict XVI and Neuhaus.

There is much in the conclusion of the essay with which one can agree:

For those of us who come from Christian traditions, we need to learn to be confident that the history and doctrines in both Catholicism and Protestantism show that challenging conventional wisdom does not necessarily make one an enemy of the faith. If anything, mindless dogmatic resistance to new empirical evidence is an ongoing invitation to greater skepticism as we have certainly seen as American Catholics ignore and are openly contemptuous of the Vatican encyclical prohibiting artificial birth control. Indeed, we stand in a grand tradition of loyal dissent that stretches from Galileo to Father Charles Curran (and many more). It is the path that many of us who support embryonic stem cell research now take. For all of us, the debunking of theoconic notions of natural law is still a powerful argument; especially when combined with dismantling the bizarre Catholic forms of Christian nationalism; and fully embracing the broad Constitutional doctrines that guide and govern our society away from sectarian doctrines toward inclusive, secular ideas of the common good.

On the socio-economic scene drastic inequities have developed in the United States, which can be related back to the Reagan Revolution, as well as current neoconservatism, both of which are inspired by Roman Catholicism's Natural Law.  This is revealed in a Congressional Budget Office report published during the writing of this essay (Top 1 percent has nearly quadrupled income since 1979).  The CBO report  found that income for the top 1 percent increased 275 percent since 1979, while it only increased 18 percent for other Americans.  Apologists for the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine will argue that this has nothing to do with Natural Law.  Indeed, they will point to principles declared by the Popes, such as the following:

The social doctrine of the Church has particularly stressed the social function of property, since this is so often forgotten. To the extent that private possessions surpass the owner's need for a decent standard of living, they must be disposed for the service of others; that is, for the common good. Otherwise, the owner is guilty of an unjust use of wealth.  (From THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH;  Cf. The Popes And Distribution of WealthUS Catholics give mixed reaction to Vatican’s economy document.)

There are even serious suggestions that Pope Benedict XVI is a Liberal.  (Cf. The Pope Is a Liberal. Who Knew?)  The question is: why the discrepancy between the principles and the practice of the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine?  Given the direct line of communication that existed between Benedict and the late Neuhaus, there may be an element of hypocrisy or deliberate obfuscation.  It is also very likely that the very serious misreading of human nature is a major contributing factor:

The fundamental structure of society and the basic principles of human conduct arise from the eternal law, which is the divine reason as it governs the entire universe (L 6). The eternal law is called natural law or natural right (L 6) in view of man's participation in it, as it has been impressed upon the hearts of all men (Rom. 2:14-15). Natural right is engraved in human nature (PT 63); it contains the dictates of man's reason which command him to do what is by nature good for him and prohibit him from doing what is bad. Although the terms are often used synonymously, "natural right" is that part of natural law which refers to human relationships.  (From THE PRINCIPLES OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH.)

Human nature is intrinsically good, although it has been corrupted by sin.

. . . . .

Catholics hold that humans have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong, called natural law, written into the core of their being. Natural law transcends society and culture; social norms help humans understand what is acceptable in a given society, but natural law gives them a clear knowledge of good and evil. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, natural law allows humans to act in a moral manner, prompting them to choose the greater good of obedience to God rather than the lesser good of following their own desires.  (Roman Catholicism Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence.)

However the problem may be analyzed by the human intellect, the Apostle Paul provides the final definitive word in 2 Thess. 2:3-12.

The Natural Law tree was planted a very long time ago.  It has spread its roots wide and deep in the body politic of America.  Now it has grown into a great tree with branches casting an ominously dark and brooding shadow over institutions and individuals alike in this nation; even those who want no part of it.  There are articles hyperlinked above which document, and in some instances contain explicit acknowledgements (or perhaps more appropriately boasts,) that the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives is in the proces of enacting Rome's Natural Law, or Social Doctrine.  The Roman Catholic Church no longer deems it necessary to conceal her purpose.  (NATURAL LAW.)


The United States is an object lesson in the implementation of Subsidiarity by differing political ideologies.  In Europe, as quoted in Christian Democracy, above, "In practice Christian democracy has been an essentially centrist political movement, splitting the difference between the twin evils of socialist collectivism and liberal individualism."  The implementation of Subsidiarity was influenced accordingly.  In the United States it does not seem to be a part of the vocabulary of the Democratic Party.  Liberal Roman Catholic newspaper columnists do not mention it.  Prominent Democratic Party leaders who are Roman Catholic: the current Vice-President; the former Speaker of the House, now Minority Leader; the Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate; the 2004 Presidential Candidate; all seem to ignore it.  The following offers an explanation:

These numerous citations make clear that welfarism as understood and presented by many socially minded politicians, many now of the Democratic Party, is not compatible with Catholic social understandings, since it is heedless of the principle of subsidiarity. It holds out economic equality, distribution of wealth, without reference to the ability or willingness of most citizens to earn and take care of themselves and their families. It caters to those who think those of greater industry and wealth should take care of them.

A free market economy held sway in America from its beginning. It allowed for economic ups and downs, with the working of supply and demand to correct things, as was the case until 1929. Herbert Hoover, then president, instituted temporary relief programs, counting on a quick return of prosperity. But the gambling fever that helped bring the crash had deceived the whole culture into a spirit of abandon following World War I. The bubble that burst in Hoover's second year in office was too immense to allow for a normal working of the economic cycle. Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected to replace Hoover, swept away free economics in favor of Keynesian economics, which inserted government regulation into every area of economic life. Hence the host of regulatory bodies established by Roosevelt — NRA (struck down by Supreme Court), PWA, TVA, and so on.

The Democratic Party has never recovered from the idea that governmental expertise is more reliable than natural free economics in providing opportunity to most Americans, despite the fact that the Great Depression was still ongoing when World War II brought on a burst of demand for labor and production, ending it.

Now, Keynesianism puts no stock in the principle of subsidiarity. To the contrary, it disputes the right and ability of most people to make their own economic way without undue interference.  (Catholic Social Doctrine Begins with Subsidiarity.)

Subsidiarity has been embraced by modern Conservatism, which had its genesis in the person of William F. Buckley:

When William F. Buckley burst onto the national scene in 1955, conservatism was a dead letter in American politics.

"Lots of people thought that it was outdated, anachronistic, prehistoric, foolish, not very intelligent," Carl Bogus tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

Bogus is the author of a new biography, Buckley: William F. Buckley and the Rise of American Conservatism. He says that back in the 1950s and '60s, there really was an established liberal elite in America, which controlled both political parties.

Buckley set out to change that. As a recent Yale graduate, he published a book called God and Man at Yale, which took the university to task for failing to promote Christianity and free market economics.

"He collapsed in that book religion, economics and political ideology," Bogus says, producing the mix of ideas we recognize today as conservatism: free-market capitalism, support for American military actions, libertarianism and social conservatism.

It was Buckley who made that coalition. He held within him all ... of those beliefs. He was what we call today a neoconservative, a social conservative and a libertarian."  (William F. Buckley, Father Of American Conservatism;  underscored emphasis added.)

A National Catholic Register article titled "Buckley, Rehabilitated," is subtitled "William F. Buckley Shaped America’s Political Dialogue. The Catholic Faith Shaped William F. Buckley"  Some critically important facts emerge in this article:

It’s common knowledge that William F. Buckley Jr., considered by many to be America’s most important public intellectual of the second half of the 20th century, was Catholic. What has remained uncertain for many is how faithful he was to the teachings of the Church. With the release of a new book, Buckley biographer Lee Edwards is seeking to clear up the confusion.

“He was a good Catholic all his life, not just at the end,” Edwards told the Register. “His faith was central to his life and career.” . . .

George Weigel, biographer of Pope John Paul II, calls Buckley one of the most publicly influential American Catholics of the 20th century. Yet, what’s apparent from Edwards’ biography is that Buckley held much back from his readers, keeping much close to the vest — keeping what was most common to him, literally day in and day out, private.

Who knew, for instance, that William F. Buckley Jr. prayed a Rosary every day of his life beginning as a teenager? Who knew that, later in life, he was a daily communicant? And that’s just for starters. . . .

In Edwards’ book, we see the influence of certain Catholic conservative intellectuals on Buckley, such as Willmoore Kendall, James Burnham and Russell Kirk, all the way to the impact of Catholic teachings like subsidiarity. As for the latter, subsidiarity was fundamental to Buckley’s brand of conservatism; it seems to explain certain policy positions better than laissez-faire or libertarian philosophy.

This is no small fact. It would mean that the Catholic faith has been influential in undergirding the domestic-economic thinking of the entire postwar conservative movement. Stated another way: Thanks to William F. Buckley, the Catholic faith played a far greater role in shaping America’s political dialogue than most Americans realize.  (Buckley, Rehabilitated;  underscored emphasis added.)

However, some argue that the Conservatives have got the implementation of Subsidiarity wrong:

With the ascension of George W. Bush to the presidency comes the public emergence of the subsidiarity principle, a doctrine previously familiar primarily to Catholic social theorists and observers of the European Union. Fundamentally and explicitly intertwined with Bush's "compassionate conservative" vision, subsidiarity calls for social problems to be addressed from the bottom up, rather than from the top down. Literally meaning "to 'seat' ('sid') a service down (sub') as close to the need for that service as is feasible,' subsidiarity holds that where families, neighborhoods, churches, or community groups can effectively address a given problem, they should. Where they cannot, municipal or state governments should intervene. Only when the lower bodies prove ineffective should the federal government become involved.

Subsidiarity has assumed a decidedly conservative gloss in today's public policy debates. Clung to by those seeking to shrink federal government programs and largely ignored by those who oppose them, subsidiarity appears to have become the exclusive property of one side of the political spectrum. This Article contends that the strictly conservative portrayal of subsidiarity misconstrues the nature of the Catholic social theory from which the principle arises. The conservative perspective also overlooks the affirmative government functions essential to subsidiarity's faithful implementation. Part I of the Article provides an overview of subsidiarity's expanding influence on debates over the role of government and its increasingly frequent equation with the concept of devolution. Part II traces the Catholic roots of subsidiarity and shows how the principle's origins transcend today's conservative and liberal dichotomy. Part III addresses subsidiarity's applicability to real-world governance, first looking to its role in the European Union and then to its more subtle but pervasive function as a principle of American federalism. In Part IV, the Article outlines several conceptual limitations on subsidiarity's devolutionary impetus, as seen in particular areas of law where an active federal role is essential to furthering the principle's objectives. That these areas are not federal priorities under current notions of compassionate conservatism underscores the fundamental misconceptions surrounding subsidiarity as a principle of governance.  (Subsidiarity as a Principle of Governance - Beyond Devolution;  underscored emphasis added.)

The above quotation is from the Introduction to "Subsidiarity as a Principle of Governance - Beyond Devolution," an article appearing in the Indiana Law Review.  A further quotation from the Introduction is instructive of how much has been going on in plain sight, yet unnoticed and probably misunderstood in the context of enactment of the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine:

In the United States, subsidiarity underlies a wide variety of current legislative actions. "Subsidiarity conservatism" has been invoked by members of Congress who "have worked to codify such [an] approach into legislative policy, specifically as a means to end poverty," and has been relied on to justify the decentralization of environmental law, opposition to campaign finance reform, the privatization of urban land use regulations, and even an initiative to provide broadcast licenses to low-power radio stations. Subsidiarity is reflected, albeit implicitly, in the myriad federal statutes that "allow states to enact their own regulatory programs, provided they meet" minimum standards. The principle has also been looked to as the model for interpreting Supreme Court jurisprudence, including decisions upholding parents' authority over their children's education and limiting the Commerce Clause's scope.

In all of this, subsidiarity is treated as a strictly devolutionary principle compelling the reallocation of social functions from higher to lower government bodies, or from government to non-government entities. Rarely, if ever, is subsidiarity looked to as warranting a greater role for the federal government in combating a given social problem. Frequently, subsidiarity is expressly equated with devolution. Even where a broader definition is given, it invariably tracks devolutionary dogma. Given the unrelenting portrayal of subsidiarity as a doctrine of privatization and decentralization, it is no wonder that the principle is now identified almost exclusively with the tenets of the Republican Party.  (Cf. Subsidiarity as a Principle of Governance - Beyond Devolution - Introduction;  underscored emphasis added; and N.B. the copious documentation, and citation of a book by current Republican presidential candidate, Roman Catholic Rick Santorum.)

The contention of the Indiana Law Review article that the strictly conservative portrayal of subsidiarity misconstrues the nature of the Catholic social theory from which the principle arises is supported by the papal pronouncements on the principle. It is also supported by other well-documented writings on the subject.  In fact, there is a debate raging within the United States community of Roman Catholics on the subject.  This blog posting, Conspiracies, Subsidiarity, and Zombie Economics, and the hyperlinks within its text, are good examples of the strong conflicting opinions that exist within the community:

In other words, while there is a vast area where Catholics can reasonably differ on economics, they are prohibited from embracing either full-scale collectivism or full-scale individualism, which denies or minimizes the social and public character of the right of property. And modern American libertarianism – by attacking the role of the state in regulation or distribution and attacking the idea that property has a public character- falls outside the pale. To use the words of John Paul II said, it is represents the idolatry of the market.

Church teaching is crystal clear on this. As Pius XI said “the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces” and cannot “be considered and treated as altogether free from and independent of public authority”. Rather, economic life should be “subjected to and governed by a true and effective directing principle”. This is fundamental. We can have legitimate debates over the reach of this directing principle, but we cannot challenge its existence. . .

It certainly is possible that/[for] a public authority to provide “too much subsidy” (and think of subsidy as “help”, not just in monetary terms). It can create dependency. But it can also provide too little, ignoring a key requirement of justice – what Pope Benedict calls the institutional path of charity, no less important than the private path. But because they don’t understand the theory, the Catholic right does not understand that subsidiarity can also be violated in the private sector, and that it is the role of the government to create the conditions for each part of the social body to flourish. This is Pius XI’s ”true and effective directing principle”, whereby governments must always be “directing, watching, urging, restraining”, to make sure that subsidiary institutions can flourish. Or as John Paul II put it – while the principle of solidarity justifies a direct state role in economic affairs, the principle of subsidiarity justifies an indirect – but no less important - role, to create “favorable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity”.

So the public authority has a watchdog role that protects small groups from being dominated and swallowed up by larger and more powerful ones. This was indeed the theme of the recent Vatican document on financial regulation, calling for a supranational authority to reduce the “excess subsidy” given toward large and powerful financial institutions in our insufficiently regulated globalized world. In other words, the call for proper regulation springs directly from the principle of subsidiarity.  (Underscored emphasis added; Cf.  Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies - What is Subsidiarity?; AMERICA’S ECONOMY/ Two Principles for Reform: Limited State and Subsidiarity;

The Roman Catholics are debating among themselves about the meaning and implementation of Subsidiarity; but not for a majority Catholic nation.  The debate is focused on the legislation of Subsidiarity in the United States, still nominally a Protestant nation. - nominally because of the ecumenical alliance with Rome.  There is no consideration of whether the injection of Roman Catholic religious ideology into the public policy of this nation is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution; only whether Subsidiarity is being applied in accordance with the Catholic Social Doctrine.

There is another aspect of the debate about the proper way to enact Subsidiarity which cannot be ignored.  The Indiana Law Review article describes Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak as "Catholic neoconservatives."  These men are also known appropriately as theoconservatives, or "theocons.":

Damon Linker's book on the theocons uses a term that first appeared in Jacob Heilbrunn's 1996 New Republic article, "Neocon v. Theocon." The neoconservatives are mostly secular and Jewish, the theoconservatives mostly Catholic.

While both have supported using military force to promote democracy, the religiously motivated theocons have sought to build a coalition of conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians to challenge the secular mainstream's contention that religious convictions are essentially private and should not influence public policy.

Foremost among them are Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak and George Weigel. Mr. Linker knows them well; for three and a half years, he was an editor of the flagship theocon journal, Neuhaus' First Things.  (Theocons on the warpath: radicals turned republicans clothed initiatives in Catholic moral language;  underscored emphasis added.) 

The Indiana Law Review article has this to say about Neuhaus and Novak:

Further, the principle is a centerpiece of Bush's embrace of the work of Catholic neoconservatives like Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak,' and Bush supporters invoked subsidiarity explicitly during the campaign in urging Catholics to vote for him. . . .

The equation of subsidiarity with devolution, at least in this country; originates primarily with neoconservatives like Novak and Neuhaus, who made subsidiarity one of the founding principles of their movement. Novak contends that in a welfare state, "the administrative state steadily swallows up most of the functions that used to be exercised by civil society.. [and] [t)hus, the principle of subsidiarity is continually violated, as the higher levels crush the lower."' Instead, according to Novak, "[w]hat the free world needs, rapidly, is a devolution of significant responsibilities from centralized bureaucracies to citizens, alone and in their multiple associations!'

Given this background, one might conclude that subsidiarity was created as a component of the Republican or Libertarian party platforms, not as a Catholic principle of social justice. That is not to suggest that all conservative applications of subsidiarity are unfaithful to the principle's origins or intended purpose. Certainly the intervention and expansion of government authority in many contexts runs counter to any reasonable reading of subsidiarity. But the devolutionary elements of subsidiarity are only half of the story. To engage the principle in its truest and fullest sense, one must engage the Catholic social theory from which it arises (Underscored emphasis added.)

Thus the writer of the article lays the responsibility for an unbalanced application of Subsidiarity squarely on the shoulders of Neuhaus and Novak.  How then does one understand the relationship between these men and Popes John-Paul II and Benedict XVI?:

Catholic neoconservatives, like most neocons, are elitists who see social inequality as a natural condition of society. As a result, they often stress the need to control knowledge in order to better instruct the general populace. But unlike neocons such as Irving Kristol who tend to be either atheists or not terribly religious, theocons are traditionalist-minded Catholics, many with ties to ultra-conservative organizations such as Opus Dei. Theocons also share a history with the rest of the neoconservative movement—their leading lights moved from left to right in reaction to what they saw as the threat of the ‘60s cultural revolution and inattention to the true threat of communism.

This group is spearheaded by the triumvirate of Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak and George Weigel. They had a good friend in Pope John Paul II— but now have even better ones in Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush.  (How Roman Catholic Neocons Peddle Natural Law into Debates about Life and Death; underscored emphasis added.)

The papacy is inscrutable.  It is naturally opaque in most of its public pronouncements.  The statements made by the Popes suggest that those who argue that the neocons are going about the implementation of Subsidiarity in the United States the wrong way are correct.  Yet Popes John-Paul II and Benedict XVI are reported to be their good friends.  Whatever the true position of the Popes on the neoconservative implementation of Subsidiarity, the fact is that what is being done is intended to advance that principle of the Roman Catholic Social Doctrine.  Subsidiarity is being advanced by Roman Catholic political activism, and implemented by legislation at all levels of government.  Rome is accomplishing her purpose.