What makes a politician Catholic?

Pope Francis says service, not party affiliation, makes a politician Catholic.

This involves dedication to promoting the common good, particularly through listening to and empowering people who are often overlooked.

The pope was speaking to a group of young Latin American leaders attending a course on politics and the social teaching of the church. The course was supported by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

“I invite you to live your faith with great freedom, never believing that there exists only one form of political commitment for Catholics, a Catholic party,” he told the group last week.

Francis explained present day politics in Latin America needs “a new presence of Catholics”.

This doesn’t mean just putting “new faces in the electoral campaigns, but mainly new methods that are simultaneously critical and constructive”.

Instead, Catholic politicians always look for “the possible good, even if it is modest,” he pointed out.

Quoting St Paul VI, Pope Francis explained:

“In concrete situations and taking account of solidarity in each person’s life, one must recognise a legitimate variety of possible options. The same Christian faith can lead to different commitments.”

This is why Catholic politicians will join different parties and will work with people of other faiths in pursuing the common good, he said.

“Being a Catholic in politics does not mean being a recruit from a group, an organization or a party,” but striving to serve others based on one’s baptismal calling and strengthened by regular participation in a faith community.

Otherwise, there is a risk of facing “the challenges of power, of strategies, of action” alone.

He defined true democracy for Catholic politicians as recognising that one belongs to a community, to listen to the community and to respond to the real needs of people in the community.

Francis said contemporary Latin America has three groups that need particular attention.

Listening to them offers real hope for finding concrete solutions to the region’s problems: women, the young and the poor.

Women, he said, are “a pillar in the building of the church and society,” young people have “the dissatisfaction and rebelliousness that are necessary to promote true changes and not merely cosmetic ones” and, through service to and with the poor, he said, “the church shows her fidelity” to Christ.

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News category: World.

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