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The USCCB, Social Injustice, and that Pesky Principle of Subsidiarity

Jeffrey Bruno

Stephen M. Krason - published on 09/19/13 - updated on 06/07/17

Finally, for all the USCCB’s attention to current social, economic, and political issues and concern about public policy, it seems unaware of certain serious problems. The Church is always concerned about the family, but I can recall no mention in any statement and there is nothing on the websites of any USCCB department about one of the gravest threats to the family today: the victimization of massive numbers of innocent American parents by the vague and dangerous child abuse and neglect laws and the intrusive child protective system. Normal parental behaviors are often treated as child “maltreatment,” so that family privacy is trodden upon and the law provides the basis in theory for a universal regimentation of the American family. If public policy is such a concern, the USCCB should consider calling for a re-examination of the federal Mondale Act that set this entire anti-family regime in operation. Even if this is not heeded by the media, commentators, and most policymakers, shouldn’t the Conference be concerned about a major family issue?

Perhaps what is needed by the USCCB and its bureaucracy is more – and more far-reaching – analysis of the public questions addressed, more attention to crucial public matters that are not on the radar screen, a greater awareness of the dangers of centralized governmental power and of the need to keep subsidiarity always intact, a willingness to go outside the standard current ways of viewing socio-politico-economic questions, and more sensitivity to the fact that Catholic social teaching permits a broad range for prudential judgment and that there are many acceptable policy and other approaches to insuring that its principles are realized.

Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) in Crisis. He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and Associate Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also Co-Founder and President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic (Transaction Publishers, 2012), and most recently edited a volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System (Scarecrow Press, 2013). This column originally appeared in Crisis.

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