Reflections at the Intersection of American History, Religion, Politics, and Academic Life
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
John Dilulio on Catholicism and Radical Libertarianism
John Dilulio was the first director of the White House Office dedicated to faith-based initiatives. (And helped the Obama administration restructure the office). Since then, he has worked at the University of Pennsylvania as the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society. In a recent speech at Catholic University, part of which was published at On Faith, Dilulio argues that a philosophy of individual rights without civic duty violated four Catholic social teachings: The Common Good, The Political Community, Love for the Poor, and Subsidiarity. Here is a taste of his speech:
Radical libertarians harbor no such conception of “the common good.” The “political community” is for them but an unavoidable evil. They are as dogmatically allergic to government action, not least by the national or central government, as radical socialists are dogmatically addicted to it. They violate the “subsidiarity” principle by de-legitimating government’s role in achieving the common good. They disfavor government-led efforts to reduce sinful inequalities or manifest “love for the poor.”
Thus, they favor health-care ministries but not Medicaid; they support church food pantries but not Food Stamps; and so forth. Where non-governmental assistance fails the needy, they would protect their “freedom” by leaving orphans free to build their own orphanages, homeless families free to live on the streets, third-world children threatened by malaria or HIV/AIDS free to suffer, and indigent senior citizens with curable diseases free to die. And, as I witnessed first-hand during my time as the first “faith czar,” though some may profess support for faith-based initiatives, they seek to practice it as radical libertarianism in religious drag.
In the aforementioned address, Pope Francis celebrated progress in reducing sinful inequalities but cautioned that these gains “are only consolidated by working to achieve even more” by attacking “the structural causes of poverty and hunger” and by challenging “all forms of injustice . . . which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.” Michael Sean Winters makes a similar case here.