The last two decades have seen a surge of religious, ethical and cultural controversies around the world. This necessitates exploring the intersection of globalization with contemporary issues including education, science and technology, and international relations.
Is religion a force for good or evil in world politics? How much influence does it have? Despite predictions of its decline, religion has resurged in political influence across the globe, helped by the very forces that were supposed to bury it: democracy, globalization, and technology. And despite recent claims that religion is exclusively irrational and violent, its political influence is in fact diverse, sometimes promoting civil war and terrorism but at other times fostering democracy, reconciliation, and peace.
We are at a time of a New Evangelization, precisely where the rubber hits the road — where people’s lives are lived.
The Synod on the Family is a very specific next step concerning evangelization. Echoing the words of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the present Holy Father describes the family as “the engine of the world and of history.”
The Second Vatican Council had called the family the “domestic church. In his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, on “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World,” John Paul talked about the family as the way in which civilization is passed on. Pope Benedict made similar points in his teaching. Now, Francis’ emphasis on the family and the synod will give a new impetus and clearer orientation. Faith enriches public life. Even though there have been bumps on the road, we can point to great examples of faith in action.
Familiaris Consortio was published in 1981, and it identified powerful cultural forces threatening family stability. There is a new urgency to the many trends addressed by Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio.
Pope Francis has highlighted two things. First, we need witnesses who are living their faith in such an attractive way they will invite others to imitate them. Second, he has called for a solid anthropology that offers a full vision of who a man is and who a woman is. In The Joy of the Gospel, he said very clearly, “Don’t make the mistake of defining the person as a consumer or as a producer. See the person first.”
The Church is duty bound to present the gift of sexuality as something that is not just to be used for recreation or simple relationships. We need to present a conjugal vision of the union of a man and woman for the bringing forth of children. The Church has to continue to find ways to effectively present our vision in the public square. At this point, it is not being heard and in some cases ridiculed. Families — husbands and wives, children — who are living that vision should be able to articulate it.
Even in his public life here on earth, Jesus, while in no unclear terms distinguishing between religion and politics, successfully intermingled faith and moral values with everyday public life. True faith and moral values should serve as a guiding beacon for the development and progress of social and humanitarian values. Personal faith (of whatever denomination) should walk hand in hand with one’s public life.