Summary: To evangelize society, we must encourage leaders to promote the common good.
Thursday of Third Week in Lent 2016
Joy of the Gospel
We weak humans need continual reminders that things are not all rosy, that we are living in the midst of a struggle against the forces of evil. Yes, Christ has triumphed in the universal, but He still battles for individual souls with the weapons of the Spirit. We can work all we want on the political level for peace and justice in the world, but only on the level of the individual conscience and mind and will can God truly bring peace and justice to the world. You can’t impose peace from outside when there is war and violence in the human soul. That means we must always be willing to communicate our faith, hope and charity to those around us, and be also willing to listen to others when they cry out for assistance.
The Pope knows that this communication is essential to spreading the Gospel of peace: ‘Evangelization also involves the path of dialogue. For the Church today, three areas of dialogue stand out where she needs to be present in order to promote full human development and to pursue the common good: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – including dialogue with cultures and the sciences – and dialogue with other believers who are not part of the Catholic Church. In each case, “the Church speaks from the light which faith offers”,contributing her two thousand year experience and keeping ever in mind the life and sufferings of human beings. This light transcends human reason, yet it can also prove meaningful and enriching to those who are not believers and it stimulates reason to broaden its perspectives.
‘The Church proclaims “the Gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) and she wishes to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good. By preaching Jesus Christ, who is himself peace (cf. Eph 2:14), the new evangelization calls on every baptized person to be a peacemaker and a credible witness to a reconciled life. In a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter, it is time to devise a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society. The principal author, the historic subject of this process, is the people as a whole and their culture, and not a single class, minority, group or elite. We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact.
‘It is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and promote the common good of society. Based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, and fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building, it plays a fundamental role, one which cannot be delegated, in working for the integral development of all. This role, at present, calls for profound social humility.
‘In her dialogue with the State and with society, the Church does not have solutions for every particular issue. Together with the various sectors of society, she supports those programs which best respond to the dignity of each person and the common good. In doing this, she proposes in a clear way the fundamental values of human life and convictions which can then find expression in political activity.’
The primary responsibility of any political entity is “to safeguard and promote the common good of society.” That was recognized all the way back to and beyond Aristotle. For some time now–at least since Roe v Wade–this principle has been almost shunned by many political leaders. One cannot permit the destruction of innocent life at will and claim to promote the common good. The principle of subsidiarity demands that we solve problems at the most local political level. That’s why we have the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately, leaders on both sides of the aisle put that aside to promote their own power. As we decide whom we want to lead after our next election, let’s ask the tough questions: do you believe in the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity? Do you believe that nations must commit themselves to promote the common good? Do you even know what those questions mean?