Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Social Justice, Politics, Popes and the Church
Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Redemptor Hominis expounded at length on the meaning of the redemption that Christ came to bring. All Christians agree that on the cross He won victory over sin and death. We agree also that He gives us the grace to combat sin in our own lives and in the world.This is where working for social justice becomes a part of our Christian responsibility. It is not enough just to ask the Lord to help me overcome my personal sins, we must also work to combat all of the terrible evils in the world and to point out those political and economic system that contribute to poverty, injustice and other evils.
Here in the US people will claim separation of Church and state. Clearly the Church has no authority to control government policy, nor does the government have the authority to dictate to the Church. Likewise churches must stay away from endorsing any party or candidate. The churches, however, do have the right to speak up when we believe that something is wrong., whether it is on abortion, poverty, slavery, war and peace, etc. Several of our forefathers said that the churches must be the conscience of society. It was the churches that led the charge against slavery. May we continue to speak a prophetic message to our world.
Popes and other Church leaders are often criticized for not offering practical solutions That criticism is understandable, but it is also exactly where the dividing line is. As a general rule religious leaders denounce the evils. They say in effect, "There's a problem here. It needs to be fixed. This is not what God wants" The appropriate experts then hopefully take action. Pope Francis is saying that the current worldwide economic system needs to be fixed. There is too much greed, too much poverty and inequality.
The Church does not expect some sort of utopia. The world will always be imperfect until Christ comes again. Our task, in the meantime, is to work for a better, a more just, a more peaceful, a more equitable world. Can we all agree that we can do better?
Lastly, people often tell me that I am too idealistic, that there will always be war, poverty, etc. My answer to that is to say yes, that is true, but we must keep the ideal before others so that we don't lapse into cynicism and despair.