Some conservatives, like Robert Stacey McCain and Susan Berry over at BigGovernment.com, have a problem with discerning what the Pope actually says from their noble fight against Leviathan-inducing “social justice.” The danger in this confusion is that we lose the balance of a conservative prescription to fix or at least mitigate society’s problems. Among those problems is the poor.
Pope Francis heads the Catholic Church. He instructs Catholics on how to be better Catholics, Christians on how to be better Christians. That means what we do as individuals and as a church to confirm Christ in our hearts and bring Christ into the hearts of others. In that context, there is nothing offensive about a call to minister to the poor, to immigrants, to whomever.
Is the Pope calling for open borders? No. Borders are enforced by governments whose purpose is to preserve their people. Insofar as we are left alone by our governments to govern ourselves, Pope Francis would like us to extend charity to our fellow man, wherever or however we find them. I do believe Christ Jesus would ask that of us as well.
The “globalization of indifference” Pope Francis decries should be interpreted as the invisible barriers forced up between people in a welfare state, wherein people outsource their concern for one another to detached institutions populated by so-called experts. It is the failure of charity, one of the main pillars of civil society, that reinforces the welfare state.
The is consistent with subsidiarity, the Catholic doctrine of limited government. David A. Bosnich writes at the Acton Institute:
This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.
This is why Pope John Paul II took the “social assistance state” to task in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. The Pontiff wrote that the Welfare State was contradicting the principle of subsidiarity by intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility. This “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.”
Food for thought.