June 25, 2017
Not long ago a local pundit set pen to paper to demonstrate the narrowness of his education and the mind that absorbed it. He went on for about a thousand words in his regular opinion piece about the horrors that arise when religion gets involved in politics. He even used Imagine as the envoi for his piece! Significantly, he did not name a single contemporary CATHOLIC figure as one of the villains of his piece. Yet, without a single example from the largest religious body in the world, he proceeded on the basis of a few examples from very minority groups in the USA to generalize to the wrongness of religion at all. I want to use this omission on his part to be certain that we — Catholics — are clear about the place that Catholicism claims for itself in the world of politics both national and international.
The Catholic Church claims for itself the role of embodying and, thus, enabling the unity that God intends for the whole of humanity, all human individuals and all human groups.
Notice, first of all, that the Church’s interest is not partisan unity or worldwide domination; it is God’s plan for the whole of humanity. This supra-political role automatically prevents the Catholic Church from claiming or taking any direct involvement in politics as such. It is not partisan or nationalist in its inspiration or its goals
Indeed, the Catholic Church specifically and directly admits that the natural human dynamics of government and negotiation are the best and most effective ways to bring about certain authentically human goods. With this in mind, the Church actually encourages participation by her members in the normal processes and expediencies of human political life. That does not mean that the Church asks or urges her members to check their faith or conscience or Church membership at the door of the legislature or the polling booth.
Because all political parties are based on differences of opinion between one group and another about how a city, state or country should pursue its own interests, they recognize and, in some sense cling to the differences between them as right beyond qualification. They accept the non-unity of the larger social group as normative! The same is true in international affairs.
The Church recognizes the non-unity as real, but claims that God does not see it as normative. On the contrary God seeks to reconcile it and bring a disunited humanity from rallying around their various flags and slogans to embracing each other as members of his single graced creation.
Conflicts arise between religious leaders and political leaders only when the latter claim unquestioned moral allegiance as their due. Not even the Church has the nerve to claim this. Only God may do this. And, so, the Church claims for herself the right to point out to her members that the same self-seeking and self-serving that tears families apart will and does tear nations and continents and a whole globe apart. Such tearing, says the Church, is no part of Gods plan.
Really truly and not too politically correctly yours,