Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/30/2014 (3 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is time to drop the loaded political language and recapture the heart of our mission.We need to be radically Christian

A new  movement should reject all the current political labels. If anything, it will be described as radical, if we consider the true meaning of that word. The word radical means returning to the root. That is what we must do, return to the root recognition that every single human person, at every age and stage of life, has human dignity because they are created in the Image of God. It is time to build a Radical Christian Action Movement.  

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/30/2014 (3 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: radical, social justice, planned parenthood, progressive, liberal, conservative, neo-conservative, Institute for human Dignity, Radical Christian Action, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Saturday, December 7, 2013, Pope Francis addressed a delegation from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute  gathered for a conference in Rome.  Their motto is Promoting Human Dignity Based on the recognition that man is made in the Image and Likeness of God.  The Institute was founded in 2008 and explains its global mission in these words:

The Dignitatis Humanae Institute (Institute for Human Dignity) is a think-tank founded in 2008 whose goal is to protect and promote human dignity based on the anthropological truth that man is born in the image and likeness of God. Our primary aim is to promote this vision of authentic human dignity mainly by supporting Christians in public life, assisting them in presenting effective and coherent responses to increasing efforts to silence the Christian voice in the public square. We do this by coordinating affiliated parliamentary working groups on human dignity throughout the world.

Each working group is based on the Institute's common philosophy: the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity . This enables such politicians to speak out more effectively in defense of the human person in all of life's stages. Like any other think-tank, the Institute also tries to keep others abreast of news and developments on human dignity issues through its own research, press releases, articles, and conferences. Furthermore, we are also building up a network of outreach partners - charities and non-governmental organizations offering practical help to the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

This think tank rejects the politicized rhetoric which limits the explanation and application of the Social teaching of the Catholic Church.They offer a source for Catholics and other Christians who are tired of the politicized language of left/right/liberal/conservative/neoconservative/neoliberal to form a new vocabulary and build a movement to effect change in the culture. It is time to drop the loaded political language and recapture the heart of our mission.We need to be radically Christian.

The Institute recognizes the assault on Christians in the cultures which have rejected the anthropological truth of the human dignity of every person as the foundation of society. Here, in their own words, DHI is a direct response to a growing secularist intolerance to Christians of all confessions that has led to a myriad of attacks on human dignity. Just as many secularist groups have mobilized to create effective advocacy groups across the world, so the Institute plans on doing the same, pushing back the tide of radical secularism which is threatening the dignity of increasing numbers of people, especially the vulnerable and the weak.

I invite you to read the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity and sign the declaration . I did. The Institute has established three working groups in the UK Parliament, the Lithuanian Parliament and the Romanian Parliament. They intend to keep building. What they affirm is that the only solid foundation upon which Christian social action can proceed is the dignity of every human person. The founder of the Institute, Benjamin Harwell, offers a welcome on the Institute's Web Site which is well written. 

In addressing the representatives of the Institute, Pope Francis said, Your institute proposes to promote human dignity on the basis of the fundamental truth about man, who is created in the image and likeness of God. So, there is an originary dignity of every man and woman that cannot be suppressed, that cannot be touched by any power or ideology. Unfortunately, in our epoch, so rich in many accomplishments and hopes, there is no lack of powers and forces that end up producing a throwaway culture (cultura di scarto); and this threatens to become the dominant mentality.

The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings - the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people... who are in danger of being "thrown out," expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness" (cf. Genesis 1:26).

Instead, if we let ourselves be interrogated by this Word of God, we let it question our personal and social conscience, if we let it shake up our discussions, our ways of thinking and acting, the criteria, the priorities and choices, then things can change. The force of this Word poses limits on whoever wants to rule by abusing the rights and dignity of others. At the same time, it gives hope and consolation to those who are not able to defend themselves, to those who do not have access to the intellectual and practical means to affirm the value of their suffering, of their rights, of their life.

The Church's social doctrine, with its integral vision of man, as a personal and social being, is our "compass." Here there is a fruit that is of particular significance to the long journal of the People of God in modern and contemporary history: there is the defense of religious liberty, of life in all its phases, of the right to work and to decent work, of the family, of education. All initiatives such as your own are, therefore, welcome, initiatives that aim to help people, communities and institutions to rediscover the ethical and social importance of the principle of human dignity, which is the root of liberty and justice. In view of this purpose efforts at raising awareness and formation are necessary.

These will assist the lay faithful of every walk of life, and especially those who work in politics, to think according to the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine and to act consistently, dialoguing and collaborating with those who, with sincerity and intellectual honesty, at least share - if not the faith - a similar vision of man and society and its ethical consequences. There are not a few Christians and non-believers, who are convinced that the human person must always be an end and never a means.

We need to learn from this Institute. We need to build a new form of Radical Christian action. A movement which rejects the current political labels entirely needs to be formed around true Christian Social Thought. The continued bantering over the recent Apostolic Exhortation entitled The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) from Pope Francis, demonstrates that such a movement is needed. I weighed in on this bantering in the early stages in an article entitled Rush Limbaugh is Wrong, Karen Finney of MSNBC is Nuts: Pope Francis and Capitalism.

The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church offers principles which can steer western culture away from self destruction. It is not only for Catholics, other Christians or even just religious people. It is for all people and all Nations. It is offered to those who seek to build a truly human and humane society and promote the real common good. The teaching is called social because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions.

Contrary to the relativism of our age which rejects any notion of objective moral truth, Catholic Social teaching insists that that there are unchangeable truths which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. They are revealed in the Natural Law (Catechism #1950-1960). This Natural Moral Law is present in the heart of each man and established by reason.This law is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties." (Catechism of the Catholic Church# 1956) 

It is here we find those foundational human rights which must be recognized by the civil or positive law as rightfully belonging to all men and women. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (paragraph 140) further explains: The exercise of freedom implies a reference to a natural moral law, of a universal character, that precedes and unites all rights and duties. The natural law "is nothing other than the light of intellect infused within us by God. Thanks to this, we know what must be done and what must be avoided. This light or this law has been given by God to creation. It consists in the participation in his eternal law, which is identified with God himself. This law is called natural because the reason that promulgates it is proper to human nature. It is universal; it extends to all people insofar as it is established by reason.
 
In its principal precepts, the divine and natural law is presented in the Decalogue and indicates the primary and essential norms regulating moral life. Its central focus is the act of aspiring and submitting to God, the source and judge of everything that is good, and also the act of seeing others as equal to oneself. The natural law expresses the dignity of the person and lays the foundations of the person's fundamental duties.

This Natural Moral Law is more fully revealed through faith and revelation. However, foundational truths such as the dignity of every human person at every age and stage, the nature and ends of real marriage, our obligations in solidarity to one another - are all knowable through the exercise of reason. These truths provide a framework for structuring our social life and building a common home. We should acknowledge them together, agree upon them and then build a movement rooted in them. The social teaching of the Catholic Church offers principles to be worked into the loaf of human culture. 

Christian social teaching challenges any notion of human freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. We are by nature and grace called to relationship. Only in communion can we become fully human and find human flourishing. This is the Christian vision of the human person which must inform a new movement.Human freedom must  be exercised within a moral constitution. We currently mouth the word freedom while we build our own shackles, engaging in dehumanizing behavior. There is a moral basis to a truly free society. Freedom is not only about having a right to choose but choosing what is right and embedding within the polity the safeguards of a robust vision of freedom; it is not only a freedom from, but a freedom for.

Freedom must be ordered toward choosing the good, respecting the truth about the human person,promoting marriage and the family and fostering the real common good. Our freedom must respect our obligation in solidarity to one another - because we are our brother and sisters keeper. This is the principle of solidarity or social charity.The Catholic Church rightly reminds all men and women of our obligation to give a love of preference to the poor. This is the kind of love which the Lord Himself shows in his identification with the poor. The implications of our response to this command are expounded upon in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew.

This means incorporating in the social order a concern for their well being. We can construct a system which includes them within its embrace and expands the promise of participation and advancement. Catholic social teaching does not propose a particular economic theory. Rather, it insists that every economic order must first be at the service of the dignity of the human person and the family and further the common good.  In recent encyclicals and magisterial teaching the market economy has been recognized as having a real potential for promoting all of these goods - when properly understood and morally structured.

The Catholic Church prophetically stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system.  She prophetically cautions Nations which have adopted a form of liberal capitalism that there are dangers in any form of economism or materialism which promotes the use of persons as products and fails to recognize the value of being over acquiring. She reminds consumerist western culture that the market economy must be at the service the human person, the family and the common good, lest 'capitalism' conflate its claims to offering freedom and become what Blessed John Paul II once referred to as savage in its application and encourage business practices which devolve into greed.

The Church warns against and rejects collectivism, whether of the left or the right on the political spectrum. The Church's social doctrine holds that authentically human social relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity can also be conducted within economic activity, and are not only outside it or after it. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in his 1999 encyclical letter Charity on Truth, "The economic sphere is neither ethically neutral, nor inherently inhuman and opposed to society. It is part and parcel of human activity and precisely because it is human, it must be structured and governed in an ethical manner.

Contrary to what some wrote after that letter was published, it neither endorsed nor rejected capitalism. As the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church consistently has done in the past it simply did not use the term, preferring the terms market economy or free economy. So it was with the Apostolic Exhortation entitled The Gospel of Joy recently released by Pope Francis. Markets can only be free when free people are engaged in them. Freedom is a good of the person. A free economy should also seek to continually expand by opening the way for the participation for as many people as possible, while promoting enterprise and initiative.

Also, though we are to give a love of preference to the poor, recognizing our solidarity with them, this call to solidarity is to be applied through the application of the principle of subsidiarity, rejecting all forms of dehumanizing collectivism, either of the left or the right. Subsidiarity in governance and economic participation rejects the usurping by a larger entity of participation which can be done at the lowest practicable level. The West, with all of its promise of freedom, flirts with an instrumentalist materialism devoid of any understanding that the market was made for man not man for the market. In this mistaken approach to a free market economic order the accumulation of capital can come to be viewed as prior to the flourishing of the person, the family and the common good. 

We cannot separate moral, social and economic issues in the body politic, just as we cannot separate the spirit, soul and body of a person. Human society is a form of corporate person. All of our political and economic concerns have some moral dimension because they concern the human person.  The reason we care about expanding economic opportunity is because we respect the dignity of every human person and want to expand participation to as many human persons as we can. 

The reason we should care for all of the poor, in all of their manifestations, is because they all have human dignity, having all been created in the Image of God. This is where the Institute for Human Dignity has done a great service in formulating their Declaration. This is at the heart of what Pope Francis not only writes about, but proclaims in prophetic word and deed.The Institute for Human Dignity is a resource for offering the material out of which we can shape a Radical Christian Action movement.

In the Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis wrote that among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care, with particular love and concern, are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church's effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.

Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.

Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, "every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or "modernizations". It is not "progressive" to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.(Par. 213,214)

He was absolutely correct. It is not "progressive" to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. A new  movement should reject all the current political labels. If anything, it will be described as radical, if we consider the true meaning of that word. The word radical means returning to the root. That is what we must do, return to the root recognition that every single human person, at every age and stage of life, has human dignity because they are created in the Image of God. It is time to build a Radical Christian Action Movement.  

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

U.S. Bishops say Obama's executive order 'implements discrimination' Watch

Image of Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, pictured, and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo in a statement noted that the executive order, which will impact a fifth of the U.S. workforce, discriminates against faithful Catholics.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new order by U.S. President Obama that forbids federal contractors from discriminating "on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," has been denounced by U.S. bishops as "unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed" and, in effect, ... continue reading


Israel harshly critical of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called 'an Alien' Watch

Image of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's apparent decision to use Qatar as a conduit through which to communicate with Hamas, effectively ditching an earlier Egyptian proposal which the group had rejected has stirred the pot.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States and Israel have been the staunchest of allies since Israel reached statehood following World War II - but this doesn't mean that the nations have always seen eye-to-eye. Indeed, the right-wing faction of the Israeli government are harshly ... continue reading


President Obama is 'mailing it in', bought the farm - spending lots of time golfing and goofing off Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Lackadaisical. That word is used to define "lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy." Lackadaisical appears to described U.S. President Barack Obama as of late. The president is pending an awful lot of time playing golf while the nation and the ... continue reading


In President Obama's war on religious freedom the people suffer another loss Watch

Image of A July 21 executive order has dealt a huge blow to the cause of freedom of religion in the United States.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's July 21 executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual-self-identification has lead to strong criticism from several prominent U.S. bishops, calling the executive order "unprecedented and extreme." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Efforts against female genital mutilation could be thwarted by population growth Watch

Image of Due partly to community activism and legislation, the prevalence of FGM, which involves the cutting away of the external female genitalia, and the marriage of girls under the age of 18 has decreased slightly over the last 30 years, UNICEF said.

By Lisa Anderson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Advances in fighting female genital mutilation, or FGM and child marriage could be offset by population growth unless the rate of progress increases, according to new data released Tuesday by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


FREE SPEECH VIOLATED: Tea party groups' lawsuit against IRS proceeds Watch

Image of Among the individuals named in the lawsuit is Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status at that time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They're not going to take it - and they're taking their claims to court. A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit by 10 tea party groups to move forward against the Internal Revenue Service. The judge rejected a request by the federal government to dismiss all the ... continue reading


'Suing the president is the right path to go down here,' Boehner declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The House of Representatives has no plans to use its own constitutional authority to withhold funding from actions by President Obama. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that if the president takes actions that exceed his constitutional authority, ... continue reading


Federal government says state death penalties are 'unconstitutional' Watch

Image of A federal judge has called California's death penalty unconstitutional. Surprisingly though, this judge is a conservative republican, a party that has long opposed federal overreach into state rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A federal judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional on July 16, claiming that the state's system is arbitrary, unfair, and cruel and unusual because of a lengthy process that leaves prisoners in the dark about their actual death row status. ... continue reading


'American people have a right to know,' Issa proclaims Watch

Image of Darrel Issa says that Simas' testimony was

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were "absurd" and "deeply disturbing." Defying a subpoena, Issa has now set up a new high-profile fight ... continue reading


Cheat on your taxes? It just got a lot easier Watch

Image of If you still fear a knock at your door anytime soon, it must be noted that one's chances of getting audited vary greatly and are based on income.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you cheat on your taxes - or senselessly worry that some indiscretion in your recent past will have the Internal Revenue Service shortly breathing down your neck - things just got a little bit brighter. The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter