Saturday, October 29, 2011

Upholding the Ideals

   Over the past few days the Vatican has issued a statement regarding a restructuring of the way that business is done between nations and by the banks.  Also the pope gathered in Assisi with religious leaders of many different faiths from around the world to pray for peace, marking the 25th anniversary of a similar gathering by Pope John Paul II.  I have been surprised by some of the reaction to both the document and the papal gathering, though maybe I shouldn't be.

   Some folks have criticized the Pope for praying with non-Christians.   Granted that we need to be careful of a one religion is as good as another approach to things but what is so wrong about gathering with people of good will to pray.  If people believe in God and wish to pray that is a good thing, especially if they are praying for peace.    Remember the greeting of the angel at the birth of Christ--"Peace to people of good will", a line we repeat in the Gloria at Mass. The witness of a gathering like this also tells those who would distort religion to justify violence that they are wrong.  Also I have had several friends remark to me that war will probably always be with us.  This may unfortunately be true but I believe that Christians, and above all Franciscans, need to keep holding that ideal of peace before the world, and supporting efforts that do achieve some level of peace, or at least the cessation of violent hostility between peoples.

   As for the Vatican document on the economy I have heard two criticisms.  The first may be somewhat valid in that it cites the lack of a deeper understanding of economic principles.  Maybe (or maybe not) the Vatican needs to do more homework on the subject.  What I don't get are those who say that because it was issued by a Vatican office and not the pope it is not infallible and does not need to be taken seriously.  I'm sorry but the last time a pope spoke with infallibility was the 1950 declaration of the dogma of the Assumption.  Does that mean that everything that popes have said since then, or that Vatican officials have said since then, is not to be taken seriously.  I thought that as Catholics we should take it all seriously even when we disagree.  Critique the statement to be sure, but do not dismiss it.  I personally believe that while some parts of the document may be flawed from a technical point of view that it enunciates some important principles of Catholic social teaching that should not be ignored, and that indeed should be put into practice if we are to live in a more just and peaceful world.  What think ye of all of this?

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