Yesterday the Holy Father spoke to bishops from Brazil gathered in Rome for their ad limina visit.
Some of his comments pertain to the upcoming US midterm election next week and the role of the Church in shaping the consciences of the faithful as they weigh the merits of candidate when going to the polls.
Be sure to read the Holy Father’s comments on transcendence.
From VIS with my emphases and comments:
BRAZIL: CHURCH TEACHES MAN HIS DIGNITY AS CHILD OF GOD
VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2010 (VIS) – Prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast region 5) who have just complete their five- yearly “ad limina” visit were received this morning by the Holy Father.
“I wish to speak to you today”, the Pope told them, “about how the Church’s mission to serve as the leavening of human society through the Gospel teaches human beings their dignity as children of God, and their vocation to the unity of all mankind, whence derive the need for justice and social peace in accordance with divine wisdom”.
[he makes a distinction about the vocation of lay people and that of bishops.] “First, the duty of direct action to ensure a just ordering of society falls to the lay faithful who, as free and responsible citizens, strive to contribute to the just configuration of social life, while respecting legitimate autonomy and natural moral law“, the Holy Father explained. “Your duty as bishops, together with your clergy, is indirect because [NB] you must contribute to the purification of reason, and to the moral awakening of the forces necessary to build a just and fraternal society. Nonetheless, when required by the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls, pastors have the binding duty to emit moral judgments, even on political themes“.
“When forming these judgements, pastors must bear in mind the absolute value of those … precepts which make it morally unacceptable to chose a particular action which is intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity. [Such as promoting abortion or unnatural sexual relations.] This decision cannot be justified by the merit of some specific goal, intention, consequence or circumstance, Thus it would be completely false and illusory to defend, political, economic or social rights which do not comprehend a vigorous defence of the right to life from conception to natural end. When it comes to defending the weakest, who is more defenceless than an unborn child or a patient in a vegetative or comatose state?”
“When political projects openly or covertly contemplate the depenalisation of abortion or euthanasia, the democratic ideal (which is truly democratic when it recognises and protects the dignity of all human beings) is betrayed at its very foundations. For this reason, dear brothers in the episcopate, when defending life we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] rejecting all compromise and ambiguity which would conform us to the mentality of this world“. [An echo of St. Paul to the Romans.]
In order to help lay people live their Christian, social and political commitments in a unified and coherent fashion it is necessary, said the Holy Father, to ensure appropriate “social catechesis and an adequate formulation of Church Social Doctrine. … This also means that on some occasions, pastors must reminds all citizens of the right, which is also a duty, freely to use their vote to promote the common good“. [Imagine. The Holy Father is daring to say that people should use their vote well!]
“At this point politics and faith come together“, [But NCR catholics assert that politics and faith must not come together when it comes to abortion and unnatural relations. They should only intersect when it has to do, perhaps, when passing legislation for funding to community organizers, perhaps.] he went on. “The specific nature of faith certainly lies in the meeting with the living God, Who opens new horizons far beyond the sphere of reason. … Only by respecting, promoting and indefatigably teaching the transcendent nature of the human being can a just society be built. … ‘God has a place in the public realm, specifically in regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions‘”, said the Holy Father quoting his Encyclical “Caritas in veritate”. [One of the important things here is Benedict’s mention of the transcendent. This is where catholic liberals go off the rails, because they are for the most part modernists, stuck in the tar of immanentism. Because of the transcendent dimension, we Catholics know how precious a human being is. If you turn your focus away from the transcendent, you can justify setting aside the right to be born or the need for relations to be natural in favor of arguably important but logically secondary issues which, in truth, depend on a sound foundation for their trajectories to aim at the correct outcome.]
Benedict XVI concluded his discourse by joining the Brazilian bishops’ appeal for religious education and, “more specifically, for the pluralistic and confessional education of religion in State schools”. He also indicated that “the presence of religious symbols in public life is both a recollection of man’s transcendence and a guarantee of its respect. They have particular value in the case of Brazil where the Catholic religion is a component part of the country’s history”. [Again, Benedict refers to the transcendent.]
At the end, the Pope speaks again of the transcendent. At the end he does so through a reference to the Cross of the Lord.
Looking at the Cross is a way to remind us of the transcendent.
On the surface of it, it is a horrible image, all too earthly and cruel. But we Catholics learn to move from the outward sign to the deeper mystery.
This is why our orientation and the Cross is so important in our liturgical worship.
For a while now I have been thinking through the intersection of politics and worship. There is a connection.
In fact, the Holy Father here is aiming here at something I have been aiming at for a while, particularly after the Notre Dame Debacle.