Friday, August 29, 2014
Church and Problems of Justice
The second question: In our Catholic Catechism we are told that pastoral workers should not be involved in politics. Is this not the realm of the lay person? Number 2442 of the Catechism: "It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens. Social action can assume various concrete forms. It should always have the common good in view and be in conformity with the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. It is the role of the laity to animate temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice."
This paragraph does not prohibit the speaking about political matters but that the realm of politics is the mission of the lay person. The paragraph is often used wrongly. Public office, party politics or taking a leading role in labor unions is what is being noted as not the work of pastoral workers, but the work of the laity.
Canon law 285 # 3: Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices, which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. This is prohibiting the clerics from participation in political activity, although permission may be given. Expression of one's opinions is not prohibited. In this area, there is no difference from the rights of the lay person. "It is only right that at all times and in all places, the Church should have true freedom to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine, to exercise her role freely among men, and also to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls require it. In this, she should make use of all the means—but only those—which accord with the Gospel and which correspond to the general good according to the diversity of times and circumstances" (Pastoral Constitution #76).
In the Joy of the Gospel we hear: "Consequently, 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... An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home, and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed 'the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics', the Church 'cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice' All Christians, their pastors included, are called to show concern for the building of a better world." (#183)