THE CATHOLIC DIFFERENCE
July 27, 2012 (Ethics and Public Policy Center) Throughout the post-Vatican II years, the U.S. bishops’ conference has typically defended the welfare state and not infrequently urged its expansion. Everyone familiar with the situation knows that this has had far more to do with the political predilections of certain conference staff members than with the settled judgment of the American episcopate — or with a careful application of the principles of Catholic social doctrine. But things are changing.
A new generation of bishops is not quite as sure as its predecessors that “social justice” always equals “government program.” The rise of aggressive secularism within both state and federal social welfare agencies has also been a sobering experience, as bishops across the country have found that the Church’s success in foster care or work with sex-trafficked women doesn’t count in the eyes of government bureaucrats determined to impose the LGBT and abortion-on-demand agendas with the funding tools at their disposal.
Catholic default positions in favor of shoring up, even expanding, the post-World War II American social welfare state must also be re-examined because of certain undeniable realities. Catholic social doctrine is a tradition of moral realism: it takes facts seriously. And the increasing burden of the evidence is that the social welfare state as we have known it is dying — and in fact deserves to die.
It is dying, in both Europe and the United States, because it is unaffordable. Continues.