Woodrow Wilson: Big Government Anti-Catholic

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One hundred years ago this week Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as president. He was elected with only a 41.8 percent plurality because the Republican Party split between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt.

Many historians believe that Wilson’s election was a defining moment in American history. The former political science professor’s views on government and human nature (and our relationship to the state) became the foundations of Democratic Party liberalism.  Historians also agree that Wilson had a dark side.  He had a strong dislike of immigrants, particularly Catholics and African-Americans.

Wilson was a student of Hegel and held that history is a story of inevitable progress.  To improve the human condition and to enhance progress, Wilson concluded that a “rational state” manned by expert “disinterested” public administrators was required. (That was in the innocent days before “public choice” theorists pointed out that administrators, like everyone else, always have their own special interests.)

Wilson argued for a “living constitution that “must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.”  Government for him was “not a machine but a living thing. . . .It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its task, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life.”

The citizen must “marry his interests to the state.”  Wilson, therefore, dismissed the Declaration’s assertion that rights are endowed by our Creator. Wilson lectured that, “If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.”  “The rhetorical introduction,” he declared, “is the least part of it.”

Wilson also rejected the Federalist Papers’ argument that checks and balances are needed because human nature is flawed and does not improve.

Political philosopher Ronald Pestritto has observed that for Wilson, “the separation of powers, and all other institutional remedies that the founders employed against the danger of faction stood in the way of government’s exercising its powers in accord with the dictates of progress.”

Wilson subscribed to the Social Darwinist view that survival was for the fittest races, and he supported the Eugenics movement. He believed there are “progressive races” such as Anglos and Aryans, who had superior and enlightened governments, and “stagnant nationalities” – Eastern and Southern Europeans – who needed authoritarian governments to control them.

Wilson despised post-Civil War Southern Reconstruction, which promoted African-American participation in public life. “The white men of the South,” he wrote in his History of America, “were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant Negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.” As president, Wilson resegregated the federal government.

         The Wilsonian Zeitgeist

As for the Catholic Church, Wilson described it as “an organization which, whenever and wherever it dares, prefers and enforces obedience to its own laws rather than to those of the state.”

Wilson objected to the new wave of Catholic immigrants coming through the gates of Ellis Island. He wrote that there was “an alteration in stock which students of affairs marked with an uneasiness.” The sturdy European stocks, according to Wilson, were being replaced by “men of the lowest class from the south of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence.”

During the 1912 campaign, the American Association of Foreign Language newspapers struck a blow at Wilson: “No man who has an iron heart like Woodrow Wilson, and who slanders his fellowmen, because they are poor and many of them without friends when they come to this country seeking honest work and wishing to become good citizens, is fit to be President of the United States.”

These charges appeared to have had an effect. A poll of 2,300 Catholic priests in major inner-city Catholic strongholds revealed that 90 percent of the Italian and 70 percent of Polish priests intended to vote for Bull Moose candidate Theodore Roosevelt.

Throughout his presidency Wilson had rocky relations with Roman Catholics. When Wilson recognized the Mexican government of President Venustiano Carranza, many Catholics were livid.  The hierarchy forcefully complained that the United States should not support a government that restricted the public practice of Catholicism.  The Jesuit magazine America condemned Wilson and described Carranza “as a villain, destroyer, liar and murderer.”

Catholic historian Theodore Maynard reported that Wilson was also rude to members of the hierarchy:

It was a distinct shock to the eighty-three-year-old Cardinal [Gibbons] when he called upon the President to be dismissed in a few minutes without even being asked to sit down.  When [Archbishop] Ireland, who had heard of this, was about to call at the White House he said, “Well, he won’t treat me in that way” – but he got just the same treatment.

When President Wilson left for Europe in 1919 to establish a new world order at the 1919 Versailles Conference, European Catholics were justifiably concerned about the treatment their former homelands would receive from the victorious allies.

The hopes and dreams of Catholics, however, were soon dashed. To save his precious League of Nations, Wilson abandoned his mighty rhetoric and ideals at Versailles and managed to alienate almost every Catholic by surrendering to the demands of the crafty, vengeful leaders of the victorious allies.  He planted the seeds of World War II when he rearranged the boundaries of Eastern Europe without regard for the ethnic or religious origins of millions of people.

A century ago Woodrow Wilson laid the foundations for a nanny state that has no use for God and uses “every means. . .by which society may be perfected.”  And today Wilson’s ideological heir, Barack Obama, is carrying out his grandiose plan that declares the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution relics of the distant eighteenth century and seeks to bring everyone and everything, including religious groups, under control of the state.


George J. Marlin

George J. Marlin

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter, Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative, and Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy. His new book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner, will be published on St. Patrick's Day.

  • fleshman

    Well it started out strongly. Alot of good information about the terrible presidency of Woodrow Wilson–some of which was new to me.

    But then it degenerated into the standard-issue anti-Obama screed. What is the evidence, Mr. Marlin, that Obama wishes to bring “everyone and everything, under control of the state?” Because he extended subsidized private insurance and Medicaid to cover people without health insurance?

    Do conservatives actually need facts anymore before making such outlandish claims which assume the worst possible motives on the part their opponents?

    Can we wonder why conservatism is dying as a political force in America?

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Anyone with a brain and some ordinary common sense can discern that Obama hates what America stands for and is clearly out to destroy our system of government and impose his own perverted notions about the role of government in our lives.

    Unfortunately, Americans begin with the erroneous premise that because a man is elected president (through give-away bribes and an indoctrinated press) he is motivated by wanting the best for the country. All of Obama’s actions thus far do not support this assumption. He clearly is more interested in his own power, sees himself as above the law, and has no respect for the constitution. Don’t believe what I am saying, then read Alinsky as he was Obama’s model. Some assume patriotic and honorable motives on the part of the man; I do not. But that’s what you get with “progressivism.”

  • Joe

    Wilson was mostly wrong about everything but Africa. All you have to do is look at Zimbabwe, South Africa, and many other countries in the sub-continent (and Haiti in the West) to see how traditions there make them nearly incapable of governing themselves or anyone else. Now we have an African-American in the White House, the same notion equally applies.

  • Bangwell Putt

    This piece provides reassurance to those who yesterday read Peter Berkowitz’ commentary on The New Republic cover story by New York Times book editor, Sam Tanenhaus.

    Mr. Tanenhaus’ title, “Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people” is, first, racist in its condemnation of a group of people because of their skin color and, second, because his “is and will continue to be” is based on no premise other than his arrogant assumption that he is all-seeing and all-knowing about the motives of millions of his fellow citizens. His third error derives from his apparent conclusion that an entire political philosophy once misused is contaminated forever. Past errors in Mr. Tanenhaus’ opinion cannot be and will not be corrected.

    George Marlin’s article helps readers to understand that human frailty and narrow-mindedness are not in fact confined to Republicans. Further that the great heroes of American history having clay feet are not all heroic after all and are certainly not confined to conservatives. That in fact there are no perfect human works or human persons.

    It seems essential that Mr. Tanenhaus’ be publically confronted by persons with the necessary academic, professional, and spiritual qualities to defend against his ideology. I hope that George Marlin will be one of those persons.

  • Manfred

    @Fleshman: In your comments regarding this article you conveniently forget that Pres. Obama is the most pro-active president we have ever had on the subjects of abortion/infanticide and aberrosexual marriage. He has gone so far as to have his Justice Department file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court which is presently considering DOMA and Prop.8, which goes so far as to insist that a child does not need a mother! His whole thrust for the next two years is to retake the House by Democrats so that he will have a green light to advance his entire progressive agenda in his last two years. By any standards this man is a dangerous ideologue who must be monitored and limited as much as possible. Europeans of 70 uears ago were gnashing their teeth and exclaiming “If we had only read Mein Kampf!”

  • Achilles

    Fleshman, your name eerily foreshadows your vantage point. Because someone of the world says something does not make it so. Obama’s ideology is almost on full display, it would take a monumental blindness to not see it, the blindness of an ideologue. Catholics are not supposed to be ideologues, because we don’t worship ideas, we worship the Absolute Person, our Creator. Your comments are troublesome to say the least.

  • Rob

    But there are other heirs to Wilson’s legacy as well–fighting to make the world safe for democracy. Despite the warnings of John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI, too many Catholics put the GOP ahead of God. A decade after we invaded Iraq….John Paul and Benedict look correct while the Beltway Catholics like Novack and Weigel look like fools. The Democrats are clearly bad. The Republicans are too despite the attempts of the Beltway Catholics. They need more More as they are God’s good servants–but the Republicans’ first!

  • Chris In Maryland

    Many Americans are afraid to oppose LEVIATHAN…the longstanding project of which Obama is the latest manifestation…LEVIATHAN offers people protection…from criticism.

  • Tony Esolen

    Wilson’s secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, once remarked on a trip to Haiti that it was astounding to see n—–s speaking French.

    I wonder how different the world would have been, had Teddy in 1912 not succumbed to a fit of pique and egotism, and stayed out of the race. The sane, sober, unassuming Taft would have won a second term … and then 1916 would have been up for grabs. I’m fond of Teddy as a human being, a little less so as a President, but his stabbing his old friend Taft was Teddy at his worst.

  • Howard Kainz

    “Wilson was a student of Hegel and held that history is a story of inevitable progress.” This is an oversimplification. Hegel believed that there is an inevitable progress in the world to freedom. Francis Fukuyama famously picked up on this “freedom” aspect in his book on the “End of History” celebrating liberalism. Hegel’s philosophy is complex, not easily amenable to incisive summaries.

  • Chris In Maryland


    Your point only goes half-way: it seems most Americans baptized Catholic are primarily political animals…seeing everything through the lens of LEVIATHAN. Indeed, when Caroline Kennedy and Sean Hannity both qualify their moral commentary with “I went to Catholic School, so….” they are evidencing an impoverished mind and heart… impoverished by the PSYCHOLOGICAL machinery of LEVIATHAN. It is an escape from Catholic fidelity…the Magisterium of the herd of independent minds.

  • fleshman


    no…only an ideologue with a hint of paranoia (marlin is the “street corner conservative” remember ) would think that expanding health care coverage to the poor– modeling a plan after a Republican governor of Massachusetts, which in turn was designed by the Heritage foundation–after the manner of every other industrialized country in the world–constitutes the first step in a plan to have the state control everything.

    And sorry @Manfred…many states already have some sort of birth control mandate. Obama went too far with this one and I expect he will lose in court, but what he did was not some unprecedented encroachment. And please for the love of God, leave Hitler out of the discussion.

    Listen to Rob people..you’re allowing your own ideological partisanship to color the way you look at the world. Everyone does this to an extent, but a little more self-awareness would be good.

    @Chris—I think you meant the Leviathan post for the Glenn Beck website.

  • Manfred

    To All: Let me state that I am neither Democrat nor Republican. I am conservative in that I want to preserve EVERYONEs God given right to life. I also wish to preserve the institution of Marriage which comes from God-“From the beginning He made them, both male and female…” I know that terrible things happen to people who violate the Will of God, either in this world or the next, and to those nations which permit these obscenities to flourish. When the U.S. Justice Dep’t. appears before the Supreme Court to argue that a child does NOT NEED a MOTHER and has NO RIGHT to a MOTHER, it is time for the populace to take action, and it will. @Fleshman: If my allusion to Hitler offends you, perhaps you would be more comfortable if I cite Stalin, Mao, Ho, Castro, Chavez, Carranza, Mugabe, Amin…

  • Chris In Maryland

    and btw Fleshman – you don’t address my point, but change the subject to your ‘counter-intelligence’ messaging. I believe you took a nip at the worm.

  • jerry

    I’m shocked! Shocked! that Wilson(along with the majority of the U.S at that time )was so anti-Catholic-just as many 2nd and 3rd generation Catholics of that time were against the “undesirables (even if they were Catholics)” flooding into the U.S from Southern and Eastern Europe up to the nineteen-teens–and just think of the Jews joining them!
    It blows me away how so many here can leap to a time 100 years later to try to blame the last 100 years of progressivism on the present President. If many of you are Catholic, I wonder if you can hear yourself being so sour and uncharitable–in fact, reading some of the comments, I smell a wiff of racism.
    De Colores!

  • Thomas C. Coeman, Jr.

    @Howard Kainz: Sir, I think that you might been overstating the extent to which Dr. Marlin connected the complex ideas of Hegel to Wilson’s wordview. Suggesting that there is a link is not the same as suggesting either that Wilson really understood Hegel or that Hegel was his main ifluence. I think that it is fair to suggest that the so-called progessive mindset was influneced by the ideas of Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche. (Teddy R. was a big Nietzsche fan.) It would be a few years before the influence of Freud was thrown into the mix. It seems they all imbibed deeply from foreign streams and the rest of us got very sick.

  • DS

    Political commentary is certainly not out-of-bounds here. That being said, the history and conclusions presented here are grossly oversimplified.

    Wilson was certainly anti-Catholic. However, the US hierarchy (including Gibbons, despite the snub referenced here) avidly supported his war policy. Gibbons was more vocal and consistent in his support of Wilson than he was with Benedict XV’s peace plan. (A footnote: Wilson, the anti-Catholic, was the first US President to personally meet a Pope.)

    Fast forward to 2008 and 2012: a majority of Catholics voted for Obama, and in both years made the difference in the outcome. One can easily dismiss them as cafeteria, “C&E” Catholics, non-orthodox, etc. Perhaps applying such labels makes a black-and-white narrative easier to fashion, and makes it easier to portray the Church as a victim.

    The truth in both eras: American Catholics are not a monolithic voting block and do not reconcile their religious and political beliefs in a consistent manner. Catholic votes and support enabled both Wilson and Obama.

  • Chris In Maryland

    To Observers concerned of others’ lacking in AWARENESS…

    The Att’y General of the United States reportedly rents his property for use as an abortion mill.

    If that doesn’t give you pause, then its hard to imagine what would.

    One could find the cohort of the White House morally repulsive, even setting aside Christian eschatology.

    I appreciate your concerns about self-awareness, and return them to you in-kind.

  • Chris In Maryland

    Well, well Jerry…you have just taken the cake with that comment! Please read the rules about intelligent Catholic commentary. Or was that Paul Begala just surfing around?

  • fleshman


    Well your second “point” came up well after mine. I don’t get your obsession with LEVIATHAN or the argument you are making. I don’t take Hannity or Carolyn Kennedy very seriously but I’m not sure what LEVIATHAN has to do with that.

    Most Catholics like me support a strong central government and don’t see health care reform as the descent of the dark night of fascism. If you’d bother to consult Catholic social teaching, you’d find the Church almost always has good things to say about attempts by governments to ensure access to modern health care. I’m not sure what Magisterium you have in mind.

    Conservatives in America have let their fanatical anti-statism cloud their judgment of everything–including Church teaching. They ignore that the whole developed world has some sort of universal health program without becoming Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany in the process.

    Its just hard to take “arguments” like this seriously.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Obama is immune from criticism because he is black and to criticize a black man is racist. Isn’t race a convenient defense to roll out every other sentence?

    If 95% of whites had voted for Romney that would have been considered racist; when 95% of blacks actually voted for the black candidate that’s…what? Ah, progressives, they have a way of perverting just about everything.

  • Chris In Maryland

    Fleshman – favoring a strong central govt is a political position – it’s not a Catholc position…Caroline Kennedy notwithstanding…and no matter who political people count as “Catholic.”

  • Thomas C. Coeman, Jr.

    Please forgive me for double dipping. It occurs to me that noting a racial or relgious bias held by someone in the past ia a bit like scoffing at the pre-Copernican heliocentric belief. The bishop of Baltmore manumitted his own slaves in 1815. Bld Pius IX openly supported the Confederacy. At what point can we say with any intellecutally honesty that they should have known better? Please parson me, but I think that the revulsion evinced at the Bryan remmark cited above betrays a kind of naivete one ought to shed before peering into history.

  • fleshman


    Yep–nice way to duck the fact that the Magisterium which you wrap yourself around does not share your hatred of LEVIATHAN or George Marlin’s opposition to government. When you remind conservative Catholics how wildly off base they are on social teaching all they do is retreat to non-sequiturs on abortion. I don’t support abortion any more than you–but our discussion was about the government. Lose an argument change the subject.

    And I could point out that Nazi Germany generally forbade abortions (except for Jewish women)–but what would be the point. The whole Nazi/Communist trope is just another lazy slippery slope argument anyway

  • Chris In Maryland

    Fleshman – you keep your Magisterium, whatever it is. Yes, you do share the political preferences of many who walk the halls of the Vatican and the USCCB. But your political preferences aren’t articles of faith, nor are they conducive to respect for human rights. Except for abortion rights and free contraceptives for the herd.

    Hard to believe what you say about the Nazi’s…its surprising, isn’t it, since they favored so many other abominations now coming into vogue, like killing the mentally disabled, and other “non-productive” members of society. But maybe I was being unjust to them.

    Of course, you know do know that the communists love abortion. Its the law in China. And it is so ingrained in Russia that the former KGB like Putin now realize they are on the verge of national suicide. We can all read about the communist preference for abortion in WITNESS. But who cares, right?

  • fleshman

    @ Chris…my Magisterium from Rerum through Mater et Magistra, Pacem et Terra through Caritas etc. all of which praised governemtal attempts to ensure an adequate distribution of resources–some mentioning health care explicitly.

    Yes..of course this discussion is political. Read the article…and the title?!?! You are the one who introduced “leviathan” and the magisterium.

    You’re wrong on all three…and of course you’re reduced to complaining about legalized abortion which neither the article nor anyone else introduced. The piece was about “big government”. Try to riff off the article topic. You seem incapable of engaging any issue in a way that doesn’t end up discussing abortion. And this prevents you and many others from thinking clearly.

  • Grump


    A few “firsts” to ponder about Obama:

    • First President to have a Social Security number from a state he has never lived in.

    • First President to preside over a cut to the credit-rating of the United States

    • First President to violate the War Powers Act. .

    • First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico .

    • First President to defy a Federal Judge’s court order to cease implementing the Health Care Reform Law. (Made moot by Supreme Court)

    • First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.

    • First President to spend a trillion dollars on ‘shovel-ready’ jobs when there was no such thing as ‘shovel-ready’ jobs.

    • First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.

    • First President to bypass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.

    • First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.

    • First President to demand a company hand over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.

    • First President to terminate America’s ability to put a man in space.

    • First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present.

    • First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.

    • First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly spoke out on the reasons for their rate increases.

    • First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state it is allowed to locate a factory.

    • First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN).

    • First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.

    • First President to fire an inspector general of Ameri-corps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case.

    • First President to appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in his office.

    • First President to hide his medical, educational and travel records.

    • First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it.

    • First President to go on multiple global ‘apology tours’.

    • First President to have 22 personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife.

    • First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayer expense.

    • First President to repeat the Holy Qur’an tells us the early morning call of the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth.

    • First President to publicly support and advocate for same-sex marriage.

  • fleshman


    That’s a pretty impressive display of mostly junk and/or irrelevant information. But I’ll give you credit…you’ve mastered the right wing under-news system..breitbart, beck, newsmax Limbaugh et al… like a man with plenty of anger and time on his hands. But what any of it has to do with a substantive discussion of issues from a Catholic point of view is not clear.

    I repeat what I said initially…if this is the best Catholic conservatives can do to contribute to public discourse in the age of Obama (and I would add the article itself and most of the other comments)–they deserve to be an aging, angry, declining, and increasingly marginal force in American public life..which of course is what they are.

    Sad thing is, it didn’t use to be this way!

  • Layman Tom

    Go GRUMP!

    Let’s not forget a few other firsts:
    •First president to try to abrogate the 1st amendment right to free religion and force the Church, many other denominations as well as morally straight individuals and companies to either formally vacate their moral convictions, go out of business or be held liable by the govt.
    •First president to violate the 5th, 6th, 7th and possibly the 8th amendment rights of an American citizen by remotely killing him via drone aircraft
    •First president to not refute/refuse the veracity of using drones to attack his own citizenry.
    •First president to not refute/refuse the veracity of using said drones to monitor and surveil his own citizenry (which violates the 4th amendment if done sans warrant)
    •First president to almost double the debt of this nation. That is, in 230 some-odd years, the entirety of the debt racked up by our country was almost doubled in merely 4 years. What this money was spent on may never be accounted totally.
    •First President to appoint a Fed chairman and Secretary of the Treasury who were delinquent in paying their personal taxes.
    •First president to cover up his and his administration’s actions in the weeks leading up to, during and directly after a terrorist action that claimed his direct employees and our fellow Americans
    •First president to refuse to execute laws enacted by congress (DOMA, Immigration law, Federal Marijuana enforcement, etc.)
    •Unfortunately, not the first, but certainly the most aggressive president to try to abrogate American’s 2nd amendment rights.

    So just in this short list, he only lacks Quartering troops to complete his assault on the bill of rights. Before you chide me on the IX and X amendments, I believe there is ample evidence of his denying or disparaging non-enumerated rights as well as exercising powers not delegated by the constitution and not respecting those powers reserved to the states and the people. However these amendments are continually abused by Washington.

    The Bill of rights is often correctly identified as the protection of the people from the power of government. So, if in one tiny paragraph we can identify examples of regularly violating the BOR in it’s entirety (minus the quartering), then how can anyone claim that the president is not a proponent of a big, all-encompassing, nanny-state government?

    Face it, the man is a Fascist. I didn’t say a Nazi. Fascism was just the political framework for Nazism. He’s more of a Mussolini fascist. And he’s not alone. He’s just the latest and most powerful in a long line of fascist minded politicians, (starting with Wilson?) Many folks on the left believe unknowingly in the central tenants of fascism: All for the State, the State will take care of every aspect of your life. As long as you are of the state, you may be dependent on it. If you own a business, you may continue to “own” it as long as you run it according to the State and pay the required tribute. If you refuse, it will be taken from you and your management will be replaced with a compliant cadre (See GM).

    If you need, it will be provided as long as you are allegiant to the State AND promise to prove it, if necessary. If you are not in line with the State, you may be allowed to exist, but will not be free to access any services. Since services and companies will be aligned, you will be in the cold with “the others”. Try and smoke a cigarette in public nowadays. I don’t smoke, and don’t like cigarette smoke, but it is a legal product which cannot be used in the open because of the nanny state. Smokers are the others. They huddle together against public shunning and the Govt. has determined that discrimination to those non-aligned creatures is ok, so there is nowhere to go for them. If it is wrong and/or bad, outlaw it. However, the fascist would rather force compliance by financial means and public opinion blackmail and by restricting the ability to exercise the non-aligned behavior. Don’t for a second think that the HHS mandate was by accident or a political miscalculation. It was a purely fascistic approach to force compliance and alignment in the largest most visible faction of otherness, the Catholic Church. The church and her congregants are standing in the way. Their adherence to morality and belief in a power higher than man and his experts arrayed in government is an affront and an impediment to elevating the State to its proper position in the lives of the citizenry. The State must destroy the Faith, or they will be unable to become the focal point of dependence. If they can’t achieve that, they cannot fully lead.


  • fleshman

    No, Tony, with all due respect, you’ve not been reading those encyclicals “carefully.” You’ve zeroed in on one idea contained therein…subsidiarity… and absolutized this while relativizing or ignoring most else. “Subsidiarity” has been relegated to a talking point for conservative Catholics to justify their opposition to attempts to extend health care to lower income Americans. And it is profoundly disingenuous.

    Pacem in Terris affirmed the responsibility of governments to intervene to root out inequality. Then wrote this:

    “64. The public administration must therefore give considerable care and thought to the question of social as well as economic progress, and to the development of essential services in keeping with the expansion of the productive system. Such services include road-building, transportation, communications, drinking-water, housing, medical care, ample facilities for the practice of religion, and aids to recreation. The government must also see to the provision of insurance facilities, to obviate any likelihood of a citizen’s being unable to maintain a decent standard of living in the event of some misfortune, or greatly increased family responsibilities.”

    Catholic social teaching has always seen that subsidiarity demands that each individual have access to basic human needs and adequate productive property. This is because such access cannot be taken for granted, in the US or anywhere else and because man in his social condition does not flourish without it.

    You may not like Obama or think his health care reform was the best that could be done (i don’t myself in either case). You may have plenty of other reasons for disliking Obama (granted!) But it is simply wrong to claim (aside from the HHS mandate and the abortion controversy which are not at the heart of the law)that the law in its main goals violates the spirit of Catholic social teachings. Indeed, the law is a reasonable application of those teachings.

    Remind me again how expanding Medicaid (a state administered program) and providing subsidies for people to buy private insurance (at the heart of the Obamacare) violates the principle of subsidiarity?

    No, Tony, you George Marlin and others are trying hard to project your own reflexive hostility to governmental action onto the Church. And it’s not going to fly. No serious reading of these documents will allow it.

  • Achilles

    Fleshman, an avalanche of common sense would strike you as a snowflake of folly.

  • Standard Catholic


    Your seem determined to equate leftist folly to same Catholic doctrine.

    This includes too many Catholic “leaders” shilling from the pulpit, often in the harshest, most intolerant language imaginable, for socialism. Socialism in its various forms, from Soviet to National, has murdered more people and been more destructive to religion than anything in world history.

    Judging from the tone of your replies, your philosophy gives you no spiritual peace. And yet you claim to speak, if not for God Himself, for man’s nobler instincts.

  • James

    I would add to this article that many presidents are/were (unfortunately) adherers to Wilsonism. FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Reagan, Bush I & II, Clinton, and Obama – to be modest. Dr. Claes Ryn of CUA points out that Wilsonian political theory split into two camps, a ‘left’ and a ‘right’, the later we often call ‘neo-conservatism’, which emerged when many moderate Marxists and progressives switched to the Republican party out of disatisfation with LBJ’s failed policies.

    The overall effect abroad is that we continually commit national resources to adventurism overseas – Bosnia, Iraq, now Syria – and we praise the progress of our materialist economic system as a means of liberation from limits and tradition(progressives nowadays do not critique capitalism, but see it as a means of control – either through the state or through multi-national cartels). Do we really we really want to spread birth control and turn villages full of families into the fancy suburban ghettos of ‘enlightened’ America?

  • John Newell

    Dear Sirs,

    The disposition of Catholic church lands by the English
    King Henry the Eighth was the biggest asset transfer
    in the history of England and Britain. yet I can find
    little, if not nothing, anywhere. Would Catholic sources
    have more information than other sources and where could
    I get hold of this information?


    John Newell