Donald Kommers, a law professor at Notre Dame, suggests that Catholics who take the Church’s social teaching seriously:
will reject any candidate who would wish to dismantle social security, oppose universal health care, get rid of the income tax, weaken trade unions, disparage the need for environmental protection, or disdain the creative role of government in the face of acute poverty and rampant unemployment. Modern popes, American bishops and the Second Vatican Council have addressed each of these issues in various encyclicals, pastoral letters and declarations that condemn unregulated market capitalism and the unjust distribution of wealth.
Catholic social teaching revolves around the four bedrock principles of human dignity, common good, solidarity and subsidiarity. The last of these principles — the one conservative Catholics love best — downplays the role of the state by elevating the importance of voluntary associations such as families, churches, labor unions, business groups and other community organizations. The principle holds that the independence of these natural orderings, which precede the state, is essential to freedom and autonomy. It also affirms that no higher or larger organization should undertake a task that a lower or smaller one can do as well. Relatedly, in the interest of self-government and human flourishing, central governments should not assume tasks that subordinate political units are capable of carrying out.
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