Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives encourages the work of charities, community groups, and faith-based institutions through government assistance. This vision has a sense of the Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity, which means the decision making should be made at the lowest level. The faith-based initiative does just that: It allows charities and other groups to make the decisions of where best to use the resources and government assistance provided. It makes sense and it integrates Catholic social teaching. The following statement from the BC'04 campaign's web site highlights this vision:
President Bush has taken bold steps to tear down the barriers that separate the poor from effective programs. Through an executive order, the President required equal treatment for faith-based and community organizations. As a result of this and other efforts to level the playing field in the Federal grants process, faith-based organizations received more than $1 billion in competitive, non-formula grants in FY 2003 to benefit the neediest of our society.
Beyond the faith-based initiative the President's vision closely reflects John Paul II in Centestimus Annus when he reminds us, the poor should not simply be looked at as a problem but as people with potential to be unleashed. Programs which increase access to effective drug treatment, mentor disadvantaged youth and children of prisoners, and help ex-offenders contribute to society answer this call to have the poor participate in networks of productivity and exchange.As well, the president's economic plan has created opportunities to reduce poverty. The two main reasons for poverty among children are, their parents do not work much and their fathers are absent from the home. The president signed the Jobs and Growth Act which has helped to get us out of the recession. 1.5 million news jobs have been created since last August and the unemployment rate is now at 5.5. The president's support for marriage also addresses this problem. From the BC'04 campaign web site:
President Bush's welfare plan would promote child well-being and healthy marriages. As part of this proposal, the President has requested $240 million in total funds in the FY 2005 Budget for a State-based competitive matching grant program to support healthy marriages, as well as $120 million for research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance. In addition, the President has requested $50 million to promote responsible fatherhood. Through this new initiative, faith-based and community organizations would receive competitive grants to support skill-based marriage and parenting education, job training, and other services that help fathers provide emotional and inancial support to their children.
These are little known programs which can go a long way to alleviating poverty in our nation. As well, the president's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment is well known. This amendment will help ensure children have mothers and fathers, the best, yes best, combination for raising children.
This is strong evidence that the president has a vision which, though likely not on purpose, follows Catholic social teachings. We must remember that the Church's social teachings are not uniquely Catholic. They speak to all peoples for they reflect the natural law. When those who criticize the president has ignored the poor or Senator Kerry follows Catholic social teachings more closely, remind them of the above vision. They are likely ignorant of it. Let us change that.