Pope calls for politicized laity

I was about to post on the exciting arrival in England of St Therese of Lisieux's relics, when I saw what Pope Benedict XVI yesterday told the Brazilian bishops. He said:

"The lay faithful must undertake to give expression in real life - also through political commitment - to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church."


The Vatican Information Service's headline, 'The role of priests is irreplaceable', is fine: the address is, indeed, mostly concerned to safeguard the priest-lay distinction, to prevent "the secularization of clergy and the clericalization of the laity" as Pope Benedict puts it. 

But my headline detects an easily-overlooked bit, which has greater news value because more surprising. Surprising, at least, if you haven't read Caritas in veritate where in para 7 he calls on "every Christian" to practise what he calls "the institutional path -- we might also call it the political path --of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the polis."

Just to make this absurdly clear, the Pope is calling on lay people to practise a politics of the common good in order to promote a Christian view of humanity and the social doctrine of the Church. He's saying: lay folks, this is your job.

That means (a quick summary of 110 years of papal teaching follows): defence of life in the womb as well as outside it -- that is, against abortion laws and the death penalty, and in favour of a pathway to citizenship for long-term undocumented migrants; it means just wages, regulation of the market, curbing usury, intervening to overcome the breach between rich and poor; and it means strengthening civil society to prevent its domination by the state and the economy.

We Catholic lay people believe in papal authority. We do not have the right to pick and choose. Roma locuta, causa finita.

We have been given our orders.


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9 years 3 months ago
Freedom of Religion means the right to worship God in a manner that does not interfer with people of other faiths or beliefs to live their own values.  A Theocracy is taking ones beliefs and fanatically forcing them on others... We do not need a politicized laity that mindlessly follow the orders. We need people who think for themselves,  love others and build bridges between people not walls.
9 years 4 months ago
As a conservative Republican, all I can say is "Amen!"  
I know conventional wisdom says the Catholic Right and the Catholic Left identify more with their respective political parties rather than their co-religious, but I have a lot hope that the division will break down soon.
Pope Benedict, who effortlessly unites the "conservative" and "liberal" consequences of the Faith, is forcing conservative Catholics to re-think many of the ideas animating the GOP.  Likewise, I sense that left-leaning Catholics are becoming more serious in their opposition to abortion & actually calling the Democratic leadership to task (e.g., Michael Sean Winters), rather than using a "seamless garment" rhetoric to justify inaction.
In any event, I'd like to see the "Catholic Vote" really mean something again.
9 years 4 months ago
As a liberal Democrat, I find myself agreeing with Guy Crouchback.  Lets bring forward a new Catholic Vote that builds the Kingdom, womb to tomb!
9 years 4 months ago
Great.  No more capitalism and a new socialistic society.  Higher taxes on everyone, including hopefully the Church.  I don't see any reason why the Church's money should be exempt from taxation in view of the pope's comments.  It should share and share alike with the State in promoting the common good.
9 years 4 months ago
I was afraid when I saw the headline I'd be smacked with some nonsense about the pope repudiating what he's been saying for all these years is the shortcoming of liberation theology, namely, that it reduces the sphere of what is human to the political. Instead, I got a post of balance and insight. Thank you.
9 years 4 months ago
Nice and positive reflections ,it is only really here in America where this non-ideological vision of our Faith in action is given room to breath and even then it is overcome by baptized Democratics .The implications are apparent to everyone.How can we be Pro-life and sleep easily knowing that the child who made it out of the womb died two months later due to a lack of medical assistance?As  a republican or Democrat I could see why I would be for  or against the proposal ,as an American afraid of Socialism and its consequences I would be against it.As a  Catholic,dependent on the mercy of God and living in a communion of Faith with a billion others and needing their witness the argument is closed.How could I offer the sign of peace to a fellow Christian at mass after having in some way voted against him or her being given medical assistance?I hope that the Church and all of its members in America take this issue by the scruff of the neck and make it theirs.
9 years 4 months ago
Another significant quote from the Holy Father's address:   ''...priests must distance themselves from politics in order to favor the unity and communion of all the faithful, thus becoming a point of reference for everyone.''
Benedict himself stands as example of being ''a point of reference for everyone''. He is not identifiable as conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, but rather as the shepherd of the universal Church, teacher of the Gospel in its fullness.


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