Which issues are Church Doctrine and which are prudential judgement?

I’ve been told on this site that there is a difference between issues of Church Doctrine, and issues of prudential judgement. My question is, what issues fall under which?

Quite personally, I do not think I could ever support state sponsored health care because of the mere reality that it can (and evidently will) enforce abortion policies on its people. With this kind of precedence set, the sky is the limit for the government. It boggles my mind how the bishops can see what is going on right now and not retract their position on universal health care.

Universal health care is not intrinsically evil unless it becomes a part of, or subject to collectivism, which in principle is opposed by the Church. Its provision is a matter of prudential judgment. However, add evil to it, such as the HHS mandate does, and the picture changes radically.

CCC1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

Yeah I know, I know it’s not intrinsically evil I’m not trying to say it is. I’m saying I find it baffling that the bishops still approve of universal healthcare. And my main question is, can I oppose their opinion on the manner without jeopardizing my conscience? If anything, my question is whether or not it is inherently evil to OPPOSE universal healthcare and thus oppose the bishops, not whether or not it’s evil to support it (I know the answer to that already).

By the way I like your signature.

You may differ with the Bishops, as they are applying a Church teaching to a given situation, not defining it as the sole remedy. What they seek to accomplish may also be achieved by other means, and it is perfectly fine to support those other means. The problem with UHC is that it always rations what it seeks to make more available.

No one has shown me a single doctor, nurse, technician, clinic or hospital that will be provided by the bazillion dollar “health care bill.” Granting more access to the same services means shortages are guaranteed. More government control over the citizen is in its DNA. But, we know that now.


I believe that there’s probably a lot of discussion going on among the bishops just now about what is and isn’t the place of government, and what is and isn’t the place of the Church in public life. I expect that there will be corrections, if only because this whole business has been a huge shock to the Catholic establishment. They were double-crossed, and double-crossed big. Of course, anyone could have seen it coming. When the Church relies on the government to do their “works of charity” for them, then it’s the government’s agenda that gets satisfied, not the Church’s agenda.

And “works of charity” are not done for political power. Real works of charity are done, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta so eloquently showed us, for the love of God and for the love of His image in the faces of human beings he loves. This is the work of the Church. The federal government does none of what it does for these reasons. The federal government does what it does for power or to forestall uprisings among the populace. It is a huge error to mistake one for the other, ie. mistake the government’s fake works of charity done in the name of power for the Church’s true works of charity done in the name of God.

On determining authority of teaching, check the Catechism of the Catholic church and then you’ll know when you’re talking about Church doctrine and when you’re talking about someone’s opinion. The Church’s teachings are laid out pretty well there.

Oh certainly yes. I don’t believe that the Catechism says that we must have government-mandated health care. And in fact, I know it says that abortion is a grave evil. So any so-called health care that must include abortion is not even something that can be considered by a Catholic. You can certainly oppose a program like Obamacare with a clear conscience.

RE Subsidiarity as defined above in the CCC quote:

When the question of subsidiarity comes up, at issue is whether something should be handled by the individual, the family, the community or the various levels of government from the most local to the least local. The principle of subsidiarity says that the level that can do the job that’s the closest to the individual is the proper level to handle the job.

So no, national health care is nowhere near doctrine and in fact, should not be practiced unless no other more local option exists, which is false. Another reason to oppose it with a clear conscience.

Now, the bishops may have some reason why they’re saying what they are about national health care. I don’t know what that might be and I honestly hesitate to ask. But as for you and me, we can be opposed to Obamacare itself, yes. No problem. As the bishops so clearly said last week, the Church cannot teach that participation in abortion is wrong, and then participate in abortion by funding this insurance scheme Obamacare.

BTW, there are numerous places online where you can find the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s at www.vatican.va of course. But a great searchable version can be found at scborromeo.org/ccc.htm.

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