Monday, March 12, 2012

The Catholic Church, a Changing World, and New Forms of Political Participation


More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

I'm still in a part of "Caritas in Veritate" that's reviewing what Pope Paul VI had to say in "Populorum Progressio"(1967), and what's happened since then.

Maybe there have been eras when 45 years wouldn't make much of a difference: There might be a new king, and a new set of village elders, but life went on pretty much the way it 'always had.'

The span of 45 years between 1967 and 2012 wasn't like that. Not even close.

That was then

"The world that Paul VI had before him ... was still far less integrated than today's world. ... Production took place predominantly within national boundaries, and financial investments had somewhat limited circulation outside the country, ... politics of many States could still determine the priorities of the economy and to some degree govern its performance.... Hence Populorum Progressio assigned a central, albeit not exclusive, role to 'public authorities'[59].
("Caritas in Veritate," 24)
Getting slightly off-topic, this is a presidential election year in America. Someone's probably going to try convincing folks that we can go back to the 'good old days,' when Americans could pretend that the world ended at this country's borders. In my considered opinion, that was a really bad idea back in 1967: and is simply daft today.

The world's bigger than the street I see outside my window, and what happens 'out there' affects me. That's not a bad thing - just a reality that we'll either accept, or be forced to accept by circumstances.

Moving on.

This is Now

"...In our own day, the State finds itself having to address the limitations to its sovereignty imposed by the new context of international trade and finance, which is characterized by increasing mobility both of financial capital and means of production, material and immaterial. This new context has altered the political power of States.

"Today, ... it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their [public authorities'] powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodelled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today's world. ... one could foresee an increase in the new forms of political participation, nationally and internationally, that have come about through the activity of organizations operating in civil society; in this way it is to be hoped that the citizens' interest and participation in the res publica will become more deeply rooted."
("Caritas in Veritate," 24) [emphasis mine]
No kidding: the Pope wrote about re-evaluating how governments work, and how folks can make things work better.

Working for a Better World

I think one reason some folks are convinced that the Catholic Church is run by hidebound, reactionary, obstinate, preservers of the status quo is that the Church won't change some basic policies. Like saying that evil isn't nice, and we shouldn't do it.

The Church also hasn't been run by folks who think something is a good idea merely because it's a new idea - and that's almost another topic.

I've been over this sort of thing before:I think the Catholic Church would be fine with maintaining the status quo, if everybody had enough to eat; if those who hold positions of authority acted with mercy and justice; and folks were not forced to chose between their conscience or their careers.

This world isn't like that. Not even close.

As a practicing Catholic, I can't just shrug my shoulders and figure that 'the government' will take care of whatever issues we've got. I've been over this before, too:
  • We've got a mandate to make society better
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1928-1942)
  • We're supposed to "contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom"
    (Catechism, 2239)
That emphatically is not the same as 'forcing you to believe what I do:'
  • Religious freedom is a must
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109)
    • For everybody
      (Catechism, 2106)
There's more - a lot more - about what we can do, what we should do, and how we should do it. But that's about as much as I've got time for right now.

Related posts:
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2 comments:

Brigid said...

Extra vowel: "what Popoe Paul VI had to say"

Stutter: "and 2012 wwasn't like"

And missing punctuation: "Not even close"

More missing punctuation: "Moving on"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Oops. Found, fixed, and thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.