“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern.” (DCE, 28)
While the Catholic Church clearly identifies the need for a “preferential option for the poor”, Catholic Social Teaching has a special warning for the establishment of what Blessed John Paul called in Censtesimus Annus a new “Welfare State” and, in its worst examples, a “Social Assistance State.” This situation arises when the role of the state oversteps its obligations, thereby undermining the principle of Subsidiarity.
"Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (CA, 48)
What's Wrong With a “Welfare State”?
"By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need." (CA, 48)
"The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern." (DCE, 28)
How Can the State Avoid Becoming a “Welfare State”?
"SUBSIDIARITY is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state" (CIV, 57)
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