Card. Rivera: Priests must work to transform society

From CNA:

Card. RiveraCardinal Rivera to priests: Transform society with the light of the Gospel

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 11, 2010 / 10:01 pm (CNA).- Mexican priests must resist growing efforts to build a society without the guidance of the Gospel, said Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.

“The Church exists to be the light of the world,” he told an Oct. 5-6 assembly of priests.

There is a temptation for priests to focus only on liturgical, sacramental and internal Church matters, Cardinal Rivera said. But the Church has a duty for the evangelization of all “temporal realities” of Mexican culture and society.

“We have a great responsibility to form others … to imbue our culture with Gospel values,” he said.

He added: “In many places there is no one to bear witness, to strongly defend or to explain with valid arguments so many issues that would help Mexico take a different direction,” he said.

The Church’s witness must include defending human rights and concrete works of charity and social development, Cardinal Rivera said. In addition, the Church must strive to illuminate and transform all areas of society with the “leaven” of the Gospel.

Certainly His Eminence is right.  At the same time, our liturgical worship remains the tip of the spear.

As I read this what came to mind was how after the Council the texts for the Mass for the Feast of Christ the King,  Solemnity in the new calendar, were radically changed.   The older texts are grounded in the belief that Christ is the Kind of this world and all structures of this world in the here and now.  The new texts stress an eschatological kingship.

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10 Responses to Card. Rivera: Priests must work to transform society

  1. Elizabeth D says:

    As a devotee of St John of the Cross, I wish I were better able to understand and apply his reasoning in Book III of _The Ascent of Mount Carmel_ about vain joy in created things (ie maniples, enjoyed for their own sake, perhaps with danger of “vainglory, presumption, pride, and disesteem of [maniple-less] neighbor”) vs appropriate joy in what serves God (ie maniples, enjoyed, with a certain detachment, precisely because the wearing of them tends to lead people to “immediately, at the first movement, direct their thoughts and the affection of their will to God, receiving more satisfaction in the thought of God than in the sensible object that caused it”). If the maniple does not tend to lead readily to loving God and neighbor, then St John of the Cross implies that it would be vain and harmful and a distraction to take joy in it. Obviously, this pertains a good deal more to the interior life, than the question of whether for priests to wear a maniple, which I take for granted St John of the Cross did, and I’m sure it did good because it was a matter of obedience.

  2. Clinton says:

    It is remarkable that His Eminence would make such a public statement, given the anti-Catholic
    nature of the Mexican constitution. For almost a century the government of Mexico’s ruling
    party has enacted legislation with the explicit intention of driving the Church from the public
    square.

    I’m not sure if Americans are aware of how anti-Catholic the constitution of Mexico actually is.
    All religious orders are suppressed. The Church may not own property. All confraternities are
    forbidden. Church officials may not act as directors, patrons or administrators of charities nor
    may they delegate others to do so for them. The government, I believe, has the final say on who
    may enter seminary. The Church may not own or operate schools, hospitals, asylums or
    charities. No one may be denied burial in a church’s cemetery. Clerical dress is forbidden
    outside of a church. All foreign-born religious were expelled from the country. Any religious orders that may be secretly established are considered unlawful assemblies which the
    authorities may dissolve should the members attempt to live in community. Etc., etc.

    Over the years the Mexican government has enforced these laws to varying degrees, as suits
    its purposes. For example, officials turn a blind eye to the operation of charities by the Church.
    However, should any Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico City get too uppity and forget his place,
    he’ll soon be reminded that those laws remain on the books.

  3. RichardT says:

    Perhaps things are different in Mexico, but the problem around here in the last few decades seems to have been that priests tended to focus too much on “defending human rights and concrete works of charity and social development” in a purely secular sense, without relating it to Christ (other than vague references to “Jesus loves you”).

    If priests were to give a little thought to “liturgical, sacramental” matters, we might get more evangalisation. And that might lead to more lay-run “concrete works of charity” that are properly rooted in God.

  4. TJerome says:

    I was a bit dumbfounded by His Eminence’s remarks. Maybe things are very different in Mexico, but I wish my pastor, who functions more like a glorified social worker , paid more attention to liturgical and sacramental matters. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to pose this as an “either or” situation.

  5. DHippolito says:

    Before the Church can transform society, the Church itself must be transformed. It must relinquish its monarchistic and political pretentions, its collective arrogance and its desire for social influence…and must humble itself before Christ. In a political, sociological and ecclesiastical sense, it must stop “lording it over others” and start adopting the attitude Christ described in John 13.

  6. Jason Keener says:

    Good to read these comments from Cardinal Rivera. We need more prelates to call for the clear-cut implementation of Christ’s social kingship over temporal affairs, as was taught by Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI. Unfortunately, the legitimate role of Christ the King in temporal affairs has been almost completely ignored in the post-conciliar era for a kingship of Christ that is purely eschatological and spiritual. We’ve witnessed theologians who, following in the footsteps of John Courtney Murray, opine that the secular governing authority, even in Catholic countries, should be religiously neutral and should express no explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ or the supernatural law. Baloney!

    As Pope Pius XI taught in Quas Primas:

    “18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: “His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.”[28] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.”[29] He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. “For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?”[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. “With God and Jesus Christ,” we said, “excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation.”

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    No, no and NO. It’s not a priest’s vocation to go out and “transform society.” It’s a priest’s vocation to say mass, provide the sacraments, maintain the church and pray for us– so WE LAYPEOPLE can go out and transform society. That’s OUR vocation.

  8. paulbailes says:

    The flaw in the good cardinal’s logic is immediately evident in <>, where he seems to equate <> (with duties for evangelisation of “temporal realities”) with <> (allegedly focussing too much on liturgy etc.).

    Echoing catholicmidwest I am sure, what this lay member of <> would like to see from priests (and bishops!) is sound liturgy, valid sacraments, teaching of the truth so that we laymen would have some more real Catholics to work with in reforming civil life. As long as we have priests and bishops of apparent good standing in the Church but whose views on abortion, contraception, gay “marriage”, divorce, etc are evidently heterodox, how can we be expected to make progress???

  9. paulbailes says:

    apologies for the mess in that last post of mine … here is the correction …

    The flaw in the good cardinal’s logic is immediately evident in this paragraph:
    ‘There is a temptation for priests to focus only on liturgical, sacramental and internal Church matters, Cardinal Rivera said. But the Church has a duty for the evangelization of all “temporal realities” of Mexican culture and society.’
    where he is given (I hope accurately) to equate ‘the Church’ (with duties for evangelisation of “temporal realities”) with ‘priests’ (allegedly focussing too much on liturgy etc.).

    Echoing catholicmidwest I am sure, what this lay member of the Church would like to see from priests (and bishops!) is sound liturgy, valid sacraments, teaching of the truth so that we laymen would have some more real Catholics to work with in reforming civil life. As long as we have priests and bishops of apparent good standing in the Church but whose views on abortion, contraception, gay “marriage”, divorce, etc are evidently heterodox, how can we be expected to make progress???

  10. Clinton says:

    The problem is that in Mexico, the Church is forbidden by law from both engaging in public
    witness and good works. That’s not to say that She doesn’t continue to do so “under the table”,
    but if She inconveniences the government, the anticlerical laws on the books will be invoked.
    I recall that several years ago a bishop spoke publicly, denouncing the rampant corruption
    of the government in the face of the drug trade. Then-president Salinas, I believe it was, issued
    a statement–not one agreeing with the bishop, but one reminding him that the laws regarding
    the Church remain in force. Translation: Shut up. Don’t make me use this.

    Paulbailes, I agree with you that here in the States we seem to have an episcopacy that relies
    too much on the biological solution to handle instances of open heterodoxy and scandal.
    But Cardinal Rivera Carrera was addressing the situation of his flock in Mexico, where the
    Church is by law driven from the public square. There, the socialist party that had until
    recently ruled Mexico for decades has the Church bound and gagged. There, it is the ACLU’s
    fondest dream come true.