Subsidiarity is the principle which states that freedoms and their inherent responsibilities are best managed by the smallest competent authority at the level most appropriate to the nature of the persons involved. For example, the family, not the state, is the “first teacher” of the family’s children. Governments may assist the family if parents are unable to exercise their subsidiarity, but the state should do so only as a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or personal level. In other words, the government and its administrative organs, such as a department of Education, must serve the family, and not the other way around.
I’ve been pondering recently, as I have so many times over the years,what Our Lady meant precisely in the messages of Fatima when she spokeabout the offences through the clothing fashions that would develop inthe years following the apparitions. Appearing to Blessed Jacinta Martobetween December, 1919 and February, 1920, she said, “Certain fashionswill be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” And “Woe towomen lacking in modesty.”