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Mother And Child Scheme
The Irish Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

Sir, - The basic dignity of each human person is derived from the possession of an immortal, rational soul. The reason we were put on earth was not to become Harvard graduates but to grow in holiness in the love and service of God and our neighbour for God's sake, unto eternal life.

Social justice will always be a pressing concern for Christians and others but the interests of both State and Church may often overlap in the matter of the common good.

In the class of post-graduate students in 1950 in UCD, a classfellow (later a meteorologist with RTE), was utterly bewildered at any objection by Archbishop McQuaid to the State's Mother and Child scheme, which seemed to be in the genuine interest of the common good.

It was excellent in intent, but its application indiscriminately to the entire Irish community was seriously flawed. It ignored the very important principle - that of the "subsidiarity of function."

This principle asserts that the superior legislative body (the State) may not intervene with lesser bodies, beginning with the basic unity of society, the family, and then with other organisations going upwards but beneath the State, if any of them can solve its own (financial) problems without needing help, total or partial, from the State's coffers.

Over-indulgence and mollycoddling of the haves would weaken their moral fibre and even undermine it if replicated when other areas of needs of the have-nots other than the specifically medical would again be disproportionally served. This provoked the Church to shout "stop" to "soft" totalitarianism.

It was such lopsidednes of the Mother and Child scheme that set a precedent, often repeated when State funding inequitably intervened in the personal development of both sides of the divide and particularly recently when State and Church were in full cry against an unrighteous budget.

Economics is not just about money; it must be about morals, since it is about human beings, who are ineluctably moral creatures. Thus, the Church has the moral right and duty is try to block proposed legislation that smacks of any excessive State paternalism.

Subsidiarity and solidarity are just two sides of the same coin. -

Is mise,

Fr Enda McCormack,
St Macartan's Home,
Co Tyrone.