Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Pope in Mexico: teach social justice, don't try and do the work of the laity


Pope Benedict XVI with the President of Mexico and his wife
Source: AP
The Pope has commenced his latest trip, a visit to Mexico and Cuba.

And on the plane trip he made some interesting comments on the social justice agenda many advocate for the Church, reinforcing the split of proper roles between hierarchy and laity. 

The role of the Church, he argues, is first and foremost to teach people the proper principles they should be implementing through their public life, not to try and do it all itself. 

Is the Church doing enough?

Asked if the Church does enough for social justice in Latin America, the Pope commented that:

"The Church must of course ask if she does enough for social justice on that great continent", the Pope replied. "It is a question of conscience which we must always pose ourselves. ... What must the Church do? What can she not do? What must she not do?

The Church is not a political power, she is not a party but a moral entity, a moral power. ... I reiterate what I have already said. The Church's first concern is to educate minds in both individual and public ethics, thus creating the necessary sense of responsibility.

Here perhaps there are some shortcomings. In Latin America, as elsewhere, no small number of Catholics show a kind of schizophrenia between individual and public morals. ... We must educate people to overcome this schizophrenia, educate them not only in ... individual morality, but also in public morality. This we must seek to do with the social doctrine of the Church because, of course, such public morality must be a reasonable morality, shared and shareable by non believers.

We, of course, in the light of faith can better see many things that are also visible to reason, but it is faith which serves to liberate reason from the false interests that cloud it. Thus we must use social doctrine to create fundamental policy models, and so ... overcome these divisions".

Talking about the problem of drug-smuggling in a country that is 80% Catholic he noted that:

"Therefore, one great responsibility the Church has is to educate people to moral responsibility and to unmask evil, to unmask the idolatry of money which enslaves man. ... We must remember that men and women need the infinite. If there is no God, they replace Him by creating their own heavens, a seeming infinity which is really only a lie. This is why it is so important for God to be present and accessible. ... In this way the Church can unmask evil, making people aware of God's goodness, His truth, authentic infinity. This is the great duty facing the Church".

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