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SLUH REVIEW Vol. 1 Issue 10

A journal of Faith, thought, and civics

Centesimus Annus Revisited By Dominic Lanari, Writer

May 10, 2010

reasons, government interference in the economy must only occur in extreme cases. • “To sustain business activities by creating conditions which will ensure job opportunities, by stimulating those activities where they are lacking or by supporting them in moments of crisis.” • To intervene when monopolies become obstacles gravely and obviously impeding development. • To provide supplementary support to business systems who are “not equal to the task at hand” so long as the support is “justified by urgent reasons touching the common good [and] as brief as possible, so as to avoid removing permanently from society and business systems the functions which are properly theirs.”

In 1991, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Empire, at a time when a great number of recently-freed countries were establishing new governments, Pope John Paul II graced the world with his indubitable wisdom in his papal encyclical, Centesimus Annus. Published exactly 100 years after Pope Leo XIII wrote his monumental compilation of the Church’s social doctrine in his own encyclical, Rerum Novarum (New Things), John Paul’s Centesimus Annus invited the world to take a look at the “new things” of their time. Because of certain restraints, this article will only present and discuss a small portion of the encyclical. However, I strongly encourage you to read the rest of it in its entirety if you get a chance. The knowledge you will obtain in doing so will be invaluable to you and those you interact with.

In order to prevent the quick expansion of the government while also providing stability in the market place, the rules above must be followed exactly. It is the responsibility of the citizens to diminish the need for the government in the economic sphere and the responsibility of the government to ensure the citizens feel the need to fulfill that task. As in nearly everything, a balance must be achieved.

Let us start with a concise outline of the role of the government/state in the economic sector (double quotations marks imply direct quote): • To ensure that “those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly.” • To oversee the protection of human rights in the economic sector. “However, primary responsibility in this area belongs no to the State but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society. The State could not directly ensure the right to work for all its citizens unless it controlled every aspect of economic life and restricted the free initiative of individuals.” The general incompetence of the State in the economic sector has been displayed repeatedly in history. For these

Naturally following an acceptance that both the citizens and the state have at least some role to play in the economic sphere is the acceptance and the promotion of subsidiarity. As Pope John Paul writes, “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.” The American translation of this sentence is found in the Bill of Rights. It reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In other words, if some problem can be solved within a -1-

municipality, within a neighborhood community, or even within a family, then it should be allowed to be. If someone in our family, neighborhood, or school community needs something such as shelter or financial support, we, as Christians and fellow human beings, are obligated to support them if we are capable. Only if a repetition of serious attempts to solve the problem have been made and have proven ineffectual, should an appeal be made to the state. The reasons for this course of actions include the following:

charitable acts, let us not judge them if they decline to participate. Let us remember that we must only answer for ourselves on judgment day. Most importantly, let us keep our government at bay and force it to conform to its role defined in our sovereign Constitution. If we do this, we will see subsidiarity flourish, and America will become the closely-bonded society we all desire.

• A substantial number of appeals for aid inevitably results in both “an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients” and “an enormous increase in spending.” • People are encouraged to rely on a historically unreliable system—government. • In immediately appealing to the government, the needy deny those who should be helping them the opportunity to practice Christian charity. • An appeal to the government for aid is essentially an appeal to one’s community for aid without giving those in the community the choice of how much aid is given or how to ensure it is utilized in a constructive manner.

Each morning we dedicate all of our thoughts, words, and actions to the greater glory of God. Different times, however, call for different thoughts, words, and actions in order to accomplish that goal. In music, we must sometimes use certain music to become energized about a particular task. Even if this music is secular, that is, its lyrics do not expressly mention God or religious concepts, it can still be valuable if it helps us be motivated to do a good thing. However, one cannot use secular music in sacred liturgy, for sacred liturgy is direct contact with the divine, and thus must make a show of approaching the timeless and heavenly. Thus, music used in sacred liturgy must make a direct reference to the divine, or God’s saints, or at least be rhythmically, melodically, and harmonically transcendent of the present. Gregorian Chant, for example, can be almost chilling in how it completely transports the listener out of the daily rhythm of life. It aids the listener in focusing on heavenly things.

Sacred and Secular Music Logan Hayward, Junior Editor

The truth is, by the fact that the government is the government, it is incapable of fulfilling the individual’s most important need. Let me explain. Obviously, it is important for people to form associations and to participate in social networking. These bonds strengthen a nation’s social fabric by, in John Paul’s words “preventing society from becoming an anonymous and impersonal mass. It is in interrelationships on many levels that a person lives and that society is personalized.” The fraternal support offered by real human bonds in acts of charity, because this support is a representation of Christ’s perfect love, helps fill the gap in each of us who long to be loved perfectly. Although our love is imperfect and cannot fully satisfy, it is personal and authentic, which are two things a distant government can never hope to be.

There are some well-meaning people who would like to include more rhythmically and harmonically modern music in Catholic liturgy. Although many of these proponents of “Christian rock” have the same long-term goals as traditional liturgists, their methodology is completely different. Their music is a combination of religious lyrics and modern harmonics and rhythms. Thus, they combine a religious overtone with secular undertones. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong about listening to rock music, it is extremely temporal, since radio stations play it frequently, and it (arguably) has been the most influential style of music for the past forty to fifty-plus years. The point of sacred liturgy is to focus on God’s Redeeming presence. God is present in the Eucharist. Even though He is with us whenever two or three of His followers are gathered in His name, our attachment to and focus on Him cannot be placed amidst ourselves. We

Our responsibility then, lies in taking care of our brothers and sisters. Let us make it our responsibility to ensure their well-being. Although we should encourage others to join us in our


cannot worship ourselves. Some modern music used at youth masses is essentially communal, as it excites a crowd and makes the work of the priest seem like a background show. If we are to renew our relationship with God on every Sunday, we need to embrace the real purpose of the Holy Mass (the worship of God through the receiving of the sacrament of Communion). We cannot transform the Mass into a feel-good rock session. I know that many proponents of Christian rock are hardworking and well-intentioned. But, for the good of every believer, may we please hear sacred music during Mass that does not remind us of what we hear frequently on the radio?

involving environmental degradation is the barriers government has constructed that prevent private property and the court system from doing their job. Government would like to supersede a jury of your peers and usurp the right to determine liability. In a world of private property, if you harm someone else’s property, you bear the liability. But who assesses damage to public property? Damage to the environment always occurs on public property because if everyone owns it, no one owns it. People dump in parks, pollute rivers, litter in oceans, and throw gaseous mixtures into the air. But if someone dumps trash in your front yard, you sue them. When BP dumps oil on your beach, you sue them.

Why Not Feel Sorry for BP? By Luke Chellis, Writer

Unfortunately, the federal government has severely restricted that process by placing a limit on federal liabilities of $75 million. There is a profound problem with limits of liabilities. Is it not conceivable that someone can do more than $75 million worth of damage? If you’d like to stop damage to the environment, the first step is to privatize public property so that someone has a private interest at stake to protect their property. Second, the liabilities for environmental damage should be 100%. Such a system would raise a company’s risk of doing to business to its actual cost. With artificially lower damage, the company has decreased incentives to be concerned about damages in the same way banks with a bailout guarantee face a moral hazard to be less efficient and make riskier investments then they would in a free market.

Because of the April 20 explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig, 11 people died, British Petroleum shares lost more than 16 percent, and BP continues to lose 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of crude oil each day as its Macondo well spews oil into the Gulf, Bloomberg reports. BP said in a statement today that it has spent $350 million, applied more than 315,000 gallons of dispersant to the spill, and used 275 tugs, barges and other ships so far responding to the disaster. Costs could reach $100 billion. Environmentalists and politicians have taken the chance to paint private corporations as the devil and government as the guardian angel of the innocent and pure “ecosystem.” Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that the Obama Administration intended to keep “its boot on BP’s neck.” Several of the most militant environmentalist groups have called for a complete ban on offshore drilling. Policy-makers hailed as pragmatic have cited this disaster as yet another justification for more regulation. Regulators should have more power, they argue, to prevent these tragedies before they occur.

There is no objective test to damages when bureaucrats or politicians are given subjective control over liabilities. Be suspicious of propagandists who stand to gain from BP’s, BP’s business partners’, and BP’s customers’ misfortune. BP did not intend for this massive loss of their investment and obviously stands to lose the most. The abstraction called the “ecosystem”—which never seems to include mankind or civilization— has done far less for us than the oil industry and all of the industries it fuels. The greatest tragedy here belongs to BP, its subsidiaries and subcontractors, and the private enterprises affected by the losses that no one intended. Be mournful, but also be mindful of demagogues’ attempts to use this

While I believe that as long as we have regulatory bureaucrats, they should do something useful instead of just collecting a salary, the real way to deal with the costs of damage is the process of adjudication. When one party, say a homeowner on the coast of the Gulf, is harmed by another party, say British Petroleum, the former sues the later for the amount of damages caused to the former by the later. The central issue in this as well as all issues


unhappy event to their advantage, namely the gain of more control over your lives and your property.

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SLUH Review 1.10  

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