1. jasoncpetty says:

    Great to read this for so many reasons.

    (1) It deflects some of the Georgetown hooey,
    (2) It reinforces that the pong approach to jurisdiction over politicians is unjust–here we have a home bishop saying, hey, I guess he’s my guy as much as anyone’s, and
    (3) It’s phrased in terms of sticking up for the guy’s reputation.

    Well done, Excellency.

    (Also, Fr. Z says: “It seems to me that some might bring in ’eminent domain’ when dealing with the right to property, but the principle remains: we have a right to property.” Agreed that the principle remains, but I’d say even the objection is a bit misplaced because of the federal constitutional insistence upon just compensation attaching to any exercise of this power. It’s not just taking and giving nothing in return, like ahem the ~1/5 of my paycheck I never see.)

  2. Speravi says:

    Excellent: Negative moral norms are black and white, positive moral norms are gray.

  3. Papabile says:

    Just donated my $10.00. Morlino is a very good Bishop and it would be helpful if we were all able to chip in something.

  4. I was pleased to see that Paul was chosen mainly because he is an honest man, well grounded in economics, and political wisdom. Now let the Catholic moral majority get off their duffs and vote for him rather than the likes of the so=called catholics of the Socialist labor party.

  5. Imrahil says:

    A very good statement.

    Only thing I wonder, following my regretful habit rather to focus on my disagreements that my agreements, is: whether it is helpful (not true, only helpful) to focus that much on the “not partisan” thing.

    To take an example: I hope I am not truth-deficient, but “Do not vote for someone who clearly, consistently, persistently promotes that which is intrinsically evil (read: abortion)” is 1. obviously a political statement, [No, I don’t think it is. It is a moral instruction, not a political suggestion.] 2. obviously a very true and necessary political statement which the Faith commands us to give and to abide by. [Voting has political effects, but when these moral considerations are advanced by one of the Church’s teachers, they are not political statements.]

    Although there does exist a realm of politics whereon the Faith does not directly comment, it might seem that it does not contain any interesting things at all, and it contains certainly not everything known as politics. Faith is, sometimes and among other things, political. [The choices we make because our consciences are informed by our Catholic Faith will have political consequences.] And then of course our political allegiance [I am not sure about that.] must lie with the Faith (do not read Republicans; there might be good grounds to say that the following US election is a “lesser evil” thing) and not with its adversaries. [US political parties do not have official religious or church affiliations, though there are some traditional attachments. For example, in the USA it is pretty well-known that Catholics, and Catholic Bishops, have for a very long time leaned to the Democrats. Thus, it is amusing to read from liberal-lefist Dems that the US bishops are siding with the GOP. No. Democrats have turned into the party of death. They have drifted from where they were even 20 years ago. Look at their platform. But I digress.]

  6. Excellent…it would also help if the USCCB didn’t issue a statement on the budget, which is a matter of prudential judgement.

  7. Phil_NL says:

    As the other thread (which says ‘I will add to my list those who report HERE that (…)”) lacks link or comment opportunities, I’ll add here that I just hit the diocese’s donation button. Probably there are more needy seminarians between here and wisconsin, but bp Morlino has more seminarians than – I suppose – my entire country…

  8. avecrux says:

    I think Mark Shea has an obligation to report this given his recent writings….

    [I removed subsequent comments about Mr. Shea as being irrelevant to the topic here. This rabbit hole is closed.]

  9. ocleirbj says:

    I’m poorly informed and not very politically focussed, so I had to look up “subsidiarity”. Wikipedia [under “Subsidiarity (Catholicism)”] magisterially tells me that it means that “If a complex function is carried out at a local level just as effectively as on the national level, the local level should be the one to carry out the specified function. … The principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual, and holds that all other forms of society, from the family to the state and the international order, should be in the service of the human person.”

    The principle of subsidiarity as described in this article exalts the autonomy of the individual over against larger social structures, and as such must be very congenial to Americans, whose country was founded on similar ideals (disclaimer: I’m Canadian). But at first glance, it raised some questions for me. I have comments on two different points, and I hope that Fr. Z. and friends will kindly show me my errors and point me towards some more orthodox sources than the “all-knowing” Wikipedia.

    (1) It struck me immediately that this restriction of social action to the “local”, and its implied criticism of initiatives coming from larger structures such as government, make this an inherently anti-authoritarian principle. When applied to the activities of Catholics, it’s clear that a grassroots-led bottom-up organization or activity could easily find itself in conflict with the authority-led top-down governance of the Church, and have little motivation to accept its requirements. The article ends with the comment that “The Church’s belief in subsidiarity is found in the programs of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, where grassroots community organizing projects are supported to promote economic justice and end the cycle of poverty. These projects directly involve the people they serve in their leadership and decision-making.”

    This sounds very much like the social justice activities of the women’s religious orders whose leaders are currently at loggerheads with the Vatican. If subsidiarity is one of their foundational principles, it’s no wonder that they resent and avoid any involvement of the people above them in the Church hierarchy. As a principle of social action this description sounds ideal, and I know of projects based on it that have achieved remarkable results; but underneath, it does seem like quite a subversive principle to take as a starting point for any Catholic organization.

    (2) On a quite different subject, I was also struck by this other comment:
    “‘Positive subsidiarity’, which is the ethical imperative for communal, institutional or governmental action to create the social conditions necessary to the full development of the individual, such as the right to work, decent housing, health care, etc., is another important aspect of the subsidiarity principle.”

    Here, the principle clearly encourages governments to get involved in issues of e.g. housing and health care. As a Canadian Catholic I am constantly puzzled by American condemnation of our health care system as “socialism”, a principle which Bishop Morlino considers an intrinsic evil as serious as “abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, [and] government-coerced secularism”. But the Bishop himself says here that “How best to care for the poor is probably the finest current example” of an area in which moral choices must be made, and adds further, “The principle of solidarity, simply stated, means that every human being on the face of the earth is my brother and my sister, my “neighbor” in the biblical sense.”

    The Canadian “social safety net” was originally the work of Christian political activists (including Catholics) who believed that society as a whole has a duty of care to all its citizens – our “neighbours in the biblical sense”- , especially to the poorest, and that the provision of basic needs such as health care legitimately falls within the scope of government. Canadians whether Christian or not still accept this as a sound basis for government action and policy. The fact that in the U.S., Catholics are vocal opponents of what to us is glaringly obvious Christian practice is really hard for me to understand. (Clarification would be welcome here!)

    These are just my first impressions – I’m willing to be better informed!

  10. Imrahil says:

    It is a moral instruction, not a political suggestion.

    Correct: It is a moral instruction; it is not a suggestion; it is a moral instruction on a political matter. Politics is, after all, no realm free of morality.

    Rabbit hole hereby closed, and sorry.

  11. TomG says:

    And if you need a bearded rotund type, try Jimmy Akin. He’s way better and doesn’t reek of jacksonbrowneian/pax christi Catholicism.

  12. lydia says:

    Jasoncpetty IMO this is not a case of comparing apples and apples. President Obama and his party have endorsed abortion on demand, same sex marriage, religious intolerence and through Obamacare euthanasia. While we can disagree on methods used to lift the poor out of their desparate situations and how to create jobs, how can we as faithful Catholics ignore the democrat platform. I believe it is imperative voters remove this man from office before he destroys all that is left of our beautiful country. IMO voting third party is a vote for Obama.

  13. JLCG says:

    Why would bishop Morlino vouch for Paul Ryan’s integrity. Doesn’t know Morlino that we are all sinners that our closets are full of unmentionable sins. The very day when Morlino defends Ryan
    Ryan acknowledges that he forgot to declare the possession of a fund valued at between one and five million dollars. That is the median income of an American family for 25 or 125 years, you read that right. One hundred and twenty five years. How much money does he have that five million dollars are forgettable? I don’t know why priests and bishops and popes think that abortion and homosexuality are worse that banking and business in general. Or is it that money clarifies marvelously all moral problems transforming them into the sacred private property?

    [Even if that were true, what you wrote has little to do with the actual content of this entry or with Bp. Morlino’s letter. What you wrote here, even if true, has nothing to do with the principles of subsidiarity or solidarity or the truth of or distortions of what Ryan proposed in relation to Catholic social teaching, or making contingent moral judgments about how to solve the problems of jobs, etc.]

  14. aragonjohn7 says:

    For a moment there I almost believed the conspiracy theorists regarding ayn rand

    And then I read your excellent article Father


    God bless

  15. Sissy says:

    JLCG said: “I don’t know why priests and bishops and popes think that abortion… [is] worse than banking…”

    Please tell me you forgot the /sarc tag.

  16. Phil_NL says:


    We’re all sinners. That’s not the point; in fact if such a hypothetical revelation would be made 9quod Deus advertat!), it would matter not one bit for this statement. (except certain media having a field day, of course)

    The point is that many sources list both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan as Catholic – or, to quote Fr Jim on this site, ‘nominally catholic’. That implies equality; the unspoken idea is that all disagree with the church on something, so lets move on. However, there is no equality whatsoever: it is an affront to Paul Ryan’s good name to suggest he’s in disagreement with the Church on the items that by their nature allow no dissent. That’s a charge mr Ryan cannot defend himself against properly in the current climate.
    Secondly, it’s a teachable moment: there are things that the faithful cannot condone, by the very nature of the acts involved, and there are things that we can disagree about – prudential judgement. That’s the second basis of the inequality. (anyone with two braincells can work out the position for Biden, but that’s again not relevant from the bishop’s point of view, Biden being outside his diocese.)

    So in sum, Bp. Morlino’s job is to teach on how the faith and politics interact, and tehreby setting the record straight. And a fine job he’s done.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    PS: @JLCG : and I didn’t even read your remarks about banking…. I hope you’re sarcastic, otherwise, please stock up on new tinfoil hats.

  18. mlmc says:

    JLGC- i believe that trust belongs to his wife (it is from her family- all Oklahoma democrats by the way). That is most likely the reason for the oversight on his part. I am glad the Bishop emphasized the difference from categorically moral issues, such as abortion etc from prudential issues. The fact is that the USCCB can only rarely provide definitive judgement on prudential issues and,in fact, lay Catholics (such as Ryan) are often in a better position to handle such issues. I find it amazing that Democratic lay officials that are self proclaimed Catholics (Pelosi, Durbin, Biden etc) disagree with the “Bishops” in areas where the Bishops can judge with authority (abortion etc) while the Georgetown faculty attack Republicans in areas of prudential judgement, where the clerical personnel have little expertise and, in fact, should often give a great deal of deference to faithful laymen (like Ryan) with more experience in such areas.

  19. Papabile says:


    I think one of the reasons Canadians have an inability to understand Americans’ opposition to your health care system is for two reasons.

    The first — your federal government is organized differently than ours and many Americans believe and adhere to the idea that the delineated powers identified in the US Constitution constrain the federal government from doing more than that which is identified in the Constitution.

    You may find that silly, but you will find that a large percentage of Americans start precisely with that understanding of our federal government.

    The second — many Americans from the far North like myself) intensely resent the Canadian health care system, because we see that every single Friday night our Emergency Rooms fill with Canadians so they can get their MRI’s, or whatever they would have to wait months for in a period of hours.

    How can I say this? I saw it from personal experience working in these ER’s when I was younger.

    I will credit Canada with choosing to create the health care system they have. That’s their right, and choice, and in some ways is an application of the principle of both subsidiarity and solidarity under the Canadian system of government. We have generally arrived at this principle in a different way in the States.

    With that said, it matters little what we do in these areas. We have a 99 trillion unfunded liability attached to non-defense-discretionary and mandatory benefits. Our Medicare system will collapse within the forseeable future unless we have real reform. Same with any Obamacare etc.

  20. Suppose every single candidate supported an intrinsic evil. Could we vote for anyone? Couldn’t we then take proportional reasons into account, like the effectiveness one party would have versus another?

    The right way to phrase it is to place emphasize the hierarchy in goods and bads, to emphasize that abortion is necessarily worse than even murder or unjust war, that not every intrinsic evil is equal with every other intrinsic evil.

    This prebuts the (false) charges against Ryan.

  21. RichardT says:

    ocleirbj asked what was wrong with the Canadian health service, which he said was based on the principle that “society as a whole has a duty of care to all its citizens.”

    If I’ve understood it correctly, we each have an individual duty to love our neighbour, and to come together as a community, where necessary, to do so. The principle of subsidiarity requires that to be done as closely as possible to us, who have the duty, rather than by remote, faceless bureaucracies.

    After all, how much “love of neighbour” is there really in a State healthcare or welfare bureaucracy?

    Where we cannot directly help those in need (open heart surgery on the kitchen table would not be a very effective form of help), then collective action is needed, but that should still be as close as possible to us. So a diocesan catholic hospital funded by donations or a mutual (what used to be called “friendly”) society funded by subscriptions are better than that remote, faceless State bureaucracy.

    The State provision, funded by compulsory taxation, is only legitimate where other options do not work. But we know that a combination of mutuals, charities and private operators can provide a decent heathcare system, so the State option is not legitimate. Even where its aims are legitimate, it destroys the morally superior, subsidiary, alternatives.

  22. I hope some of you will show your appreciation to Bp. Morlino by using the donation feature on the website of the Diocese of Madison.

  23. Phil_NL says:

    Already did, Father, see above – [Thanks!] also with a remark about (presumably) a missing link that tends to make it harder to keep track of these donations.

    I hope the diocese will get a decent number of donations out of it; with 32 seminarians, you also need more cash to make a noticable effect…

  24. Ben Yanke says:

    You can say that again. One seminarian said in his talk last Sunday that it will cost just shy of 10 million to get all of these 32 through school. Ouch! Money very well spent, but it’s still a lot….

  25. ocleirbj says:

    @papabile and RichardT, thanks for your explanations.

    Papabile, I wouldn’t say that it was ‘silly’ for Americans to make their starting point the need to constrain federal powers – it’s just another view of government, which is based on your history and development as a nation. Canada was settled largely by bureaucrats and company men, not rugged individualists or refugees from civil persecution, so we have different assumptions about the purpose and intentions of the national government. But power and human nature being what they are, both our governments probably operate in much the same way once people get elected!

    The problem of Canadians crossing the border to get immediate health care from U.S. hospitals is much discussed here. The long wait times are the result of underfunding of the system, which a large portion of our taxes go to support. The solution seems to be either to fund it better by raising taxes, or to allow a “two-tier” system where those who can pay up front get services faster while the poor are kept waiting. There is a lot being said – some of it in a very loud voice – on both sides, and nothing much has happened to fix it, though over time, more services keep being privatized. For myself, I didn’t realize that Canadians were crowding your E.R.s – anyone I know who has gone down for something has made an office appointment like everyone else.

    RichardT, you ask “how much “love of neighbour” is there really in a State healthcare or welfare bureaucracy?” I think it is seen in the idea that it is “right and just” for a society, whose citizens voluntarily allow their financial resources to be pooled and administered for the common good by an elected government, to make sure that “even the least of these” receives what that society has decided are the basic needs of all its citizens. Public education is one such good, and health care is another. The argument up here is more about what health care needs ought to be covered and what can be left to individuals to pay for themselves, and not about the concept of universally available healthcare in itself.

    I see the difference that Papabile noticed in the way RichardT talks about “compulsory taxation” and I just spoke of “voluntary” pooling of resources [via taxes]. In our case, we agree to be taxed at the rate necessary to fund those things which we want our government to administer, while you reluctantly endure the involuntary extraction of your money by a “remote, faceless State bureaucracy.” In both cases, we can elect someone else next time if we don’t like what the current crew are doing. The process is the same, but the attitude of the tax-ee is so different.

    A last point: regardless of the sources of funding and the intentions of administrators, the love of neighbour that a person in hospital hopes and needs to receive always comes from the front-line workers, nurses, doctors, aides etc. I can’t think that a private hospital hires nicer, more loving people than a state or provincial hospital would, although a Catholic one may have more Catholics. But to me it seems that any local hospital is fulfilling the principle of subsidiarity in the treatment of individual sick people by individual staff members, and I don’t know how much this would be affected by its funding coming from public or private sources.

    Thanks to you both for helping to clarify things for me!

  26. RichardT says:

    Unfortunately the Madison donations page requires a US State and ZIP code; it doesn’t seem to let us foreigners give money. [Thanks for trying!]

  27. Phil_NL says:


    As far as I can tell, it didn’t bounce for me when I let the state stay on its default option and filled the zip-code field with something that shouldnt make sense (as I’m outside the US as well). As long as the credit-card data checks out, it shouldn’t matter.

  28. Phil_NL says:


    I let the state at the default option, and entered a foreign zip-code, and – as far as I can tell – it got through. As long as the credit card data is correct, the rest shouldn’t matter, it looks like there’s only a check on whether the boz is filled, not if the contents of the non-card data are accurate.

  29. acardnal says:

    I mailed a check in to the St. Joseph’s Fund.

  30. cyejbv says:

    Thanks Fr Z. I was busy getting steamed looking for an eminent domain reference to refute and without your kind mid-thread reminder, “I hope some of you will show your appreciation to Bp. Morlino by using the donation feature on the website of the Diocese of Madison.”, I may have forgotten altogether to donate. God Bless Bp. Morlino, and you as well Father.

  31. Chrysologus says:

    Ryan’s budget proposal and relevant political ideas have been criticized by the USCCB and by various Catholic bloggers (Vox Nova, America, etc.) in the light of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). [Not a lot of weight.] Ryan’s reputation and personal character have not, so far as I’ve seen, been attacked. In fact, many of his critics in politics (e.g., Joe Biden) have observed that he is a sincere and intelligent man. Morlino can give his opinion, of course, on whether he thinks Ryan’s ideas are consistent with CST, but so can other bishops (the USCCB) and bloggers, etc. It is deceptive to characterize attacks on Ryan’s thinking and proposals vis-a-vis CST as attacks on his reputation.

  32. Phil_NL says:

    Just to confirm, the donations from abroad, as described above, work too. Mine made it to my credit card statement

  33. Phil: That’s great! Thanks!

  34. Pingback: Daniel Maguire Is No Fan of Paul Ryan « Campus Notes

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