Why the Church speaks on social and political issues
WHY does the church speak on social and political matters? This question betrays the belief that the spiritual has nothing to do with the mundane, with the worldly. The church’s sphere is the spiritual, so they claimed, so it should keep silent and be aloft over such worldly matters as politics, business and society in general. This way of thinking, however, is foreign to the mission of Jesus, because he has come to save the world—to renew everything, including social realities! In fact the end game of the plan of salvation is “the New Heavens and the New Earth”.
The Holy Book tells us: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3:13) All things came from God and all things have to be brought back to him. So all reality, including the temporal order or the order of this world, will have to be permeated with the Spirit of God. “Our redemption has a social dimension because ‘God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between men’. To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds.” (Pope Francis’ EvangeliiGaudium, 178)
Therefore the Holy Father clearly teaches: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.” (Pope Francis’ EvangeliiGaudium, 183)
There are values that are needed in social life. These are truth, justice, peace and love. We need these in order to have a human society, that is, a society that is worthy of human beings. These virtues are to be implanted in all institutions in order that people can live and work together in harmony. These virtues are needed not only in the church and in families. They are also needed in politics and in business. Woe to us if there is no truth in politics. No business will prosper if there is no justice. There will not be peace if there is no justice. Love makes people at home not only in their homes but also in their workplaces. Not only are these virtues or values needed but they cannot exist alone. They all come together. The absence of one will not make the others effective. There can be no love if people are not truthful to each other. There is no justice if there is no love and vice versa.
These values—truth, justice, peace and love—are all kingdom values, that is, values of the kingdom of God that Jesus has come to bring about. All institutions therefore, including the Church have to strive to operate according these values.
In the light of this, we have the marching orders of Pope Francis: “The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being.” (Pope Francis’ EvangeliiGaudium, 182)
Religion has a role in political debate, not in providing concrete political solutions, which lies outside the competence of religion, but to recall to society the objective moral norms as the basis of justice, truth, peace and love.