Faith, Values and Public Life

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.

3 thoughts on “Faith, Values and Public Life

  • Reply Ramon Casha 3rd February 2014 at 7:02 pm

    How influential is religion in politics? I think that depends on the place. I can think of no situation in which mixing religion with politics has left a positive result. In some areas, it’s practically absent. In others, its role is as strong as ever and, I’m afraid, its effect is usually horrific. Examples include Uganda’s new anti-gay laws which threaten gay people with life in prison (originally it mandated the death penalty). That law was created after intense lobbying by American Christians, such as pastor Scott Lively who went there for that very reason.

    In Malta the situation is nowhere near as extreme but the local churches are still waging a battle against LGBT people. Instead of threatening them with prison or death, the church tries to keep them marginalised, keep them from gaining acceptance, from being able to lead their lives as any other member of society.

    There are many things threatening marriages, and marriage stability. Same-sex marriage is not among them.

    • Reply Anton D'Amato 6th February 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Mixing religion with politics is one thing but that the Church speaks on issues and tries to make a point on certain issues regarding humanity is another issue. When the Church speaks in fora and gives its opinion on issues like civil unions is not mixing politics and religion, but according to its understanding of man it tries to put forward her understanding. The examples mentioned are truly horrendous and thankfully the situation in Malta is nowhere near; moreover I believe that the Church is not keeping gay persons marginalised at all and surely not waging no war against anyone.

  • Reply Marie Dean 8th February 2014 at 10:27 am

    The Catholic Church has never taught separation of Church and State. On the contrary, in the past 200 years, encyclicals from most of the popes have addressed political and social issues head on. Only those who have not read these state otherwise. Indeed, the CC has an entire corpus of teaching on political and social issues, such as the constant condemnation of socialisam from ALL popes from 1848 through the Pope Emeritus.

    The reason why the Church has always been involved is that she has a distinct role in the world as the world’s conscience. The moral code the Church gives to the world is that of God Himself, as the Church is the deposit of the Revelation and interpretation of both the Old and New Testaments. Such teaching is called Tradition.

    Those who want to push the Church to the side of having a say in the world are guilty of two heresies, condemned in the Church among the list of modernist heresies. The first is eirenism, which states that all religions are the same; and the second is indifferentism, which states that the Church has no say in the public sphere. As condemned heresies, a Catholic does not want to fall into these errors. Also, as the Pope Emeritus so clearly outlined in Dominus Iesus, false religious pluralism and relativism have undermined the teaching that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth in all matters. As previous popes have noted, it is actually the duty of the State to protect the Catholic Church, because it holds this fullness

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