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Getting Politically Real: Weekly Message for 08-11-2020
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, Pax Christi:
The election year is half-way over here in the USA. The political atmosphere is turbulent. We all know that as Catholics we are called to be responsible, engaged citizens – the Bible and the Catechism leave no room for doubt about that. But what does being a “responsible and engaged” citizen look like for us in these troubled – even weird – times?
I really wish there were a simple answer to that question. But there isn’t. That doesn’t mean there is no answer at all. There is an answer.
Here’s how we can summarize it: being a responsible and engaged citizen means doing one’s part to further the common good by practicing the virtue of solidarity and respecting the principles of subsidiarity and the universal destination of goods, while at the same time promoting human dignity, peace, social justice, and integral development.
There you have it. Pretty clear, right? Well…
Confusion and Contradiction
All the italicized words in that paragraph are critical, pivotal concepts in the wise and brilliant Catholic Social Teaching (or “Doctrine”) developed by the Church’s Magisterium over the course of centuries. The problem is, however, that every single one of those italicized words is also used by proponents of the various non- and anti-Christian world-views passionately attempting to influence the course of human events.
For example, some proponents of infanticide argue their shocking case by invoking the term “human dignity.” Some proponents of “social justice” argue for the abolition of private property. Both positions clearly contradict authentic morality, as built into human nature and as understood and disseminated by Catholic Social Teaching.
If we don’t know what the Church actual means by all those critical concepts, and if we don’t know how to interpret current political and social discourse in light of those concepts, how in the world can we “do our part” as we work towards being responsible and engaged citizens? We can’t. Period.
And yet, as the United States Bishops Conference has lamented, “…far too many Catholics are not familiar with the basic content of Catholic social teaching.”
Take One Step Forward
In this election year, we want to help all of our digital pilgrims fulfill their desire to be responsible and engaged citizens. To that end, I want to remind you of our online course entitled “Society and Spirituality: A Practical Overview of Catholic Social Teaching.” In this course, consisting of 14 short video lectures with incisive, do-it-yourself assignments, I introduce you in a clear, practical way to all the fundamental concepts of this great treasury of Catholic wisdom. As with all our resources, you can use this one by yourself, or you can sign up for the small group license and use it together with others.
None of us can solve all of society’s ills just by knowing more about Christ’s vision for a healthy society, but without a doubt, each one of us will be able to do our part much, much better if we take just a little bit of time to dig deeper into that vision.
Yours in Christ,
Fr John Bartunek, LC