Religion's Role in International Politics
Observers Say Faith Has a Part to Play
ROME, JAN. 8, 2005 (Zenit) - John Paul II's message for the recent World Day of Peace contained a somber overview of the state of affairs today. "We cannot help but note the disturbing spread of various social and political manifestations of evil: from social disorders to anarchy and war, from injustice to acts of violence and killing," the Pope wrote in No. 3 of the message.
As a response, the Holy Father called for a renewal of the "common patrimony of moral values bestowed by God himself." The Pope recalled his 1995 U.N. speech in which he referred to a "grammar" of universal moral law that unites all humans despite their cultural differences. In this year's Day of Peace message John Paul II called for an "ever greater commitment and responsibility" to this grammar.
The role of moral values in today's world was also dealt with in a recently published collection of texts by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, titled "Justice and Peace: An Ever Present Challenge." Commenting on the role of the Church's social doctrine, the council's secretary, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, stressed a twofold way in which Christians can make their presence felt in society: personal witness, and planning for an authentic humanism.
Bishop Crepaldi explained that the Church's hope is that the teaching of social doctrine will "help to produce authentic believers and inspire them to be credible witnesses, capable of changing the mechanisms of modern society by their way of thinking and acting."
He also insisted on renewing those structures that paralyze or distort social development and justice. "The Gospel logic of love must be embodied in the human and rational logic of the economy, of politics and of society."
An important part of striving to implant this "logic of love" is the effort to ensure economic justice and to help the poor. The role of morality in the struggle against poverty was examined in a recent book, "Mind, Heart and Soul in the Fight Against Poverty." The work, edited and published by the World Bank, is based on the efforts of a team composed of people within and outside of the U.N. agency.
The book observes that faith-based organizations "are important players in many spheres of development," but it contends that their role has not been given sufficient attention in the past. In part this is because the primary concern of "faith leaders and institutions" is spiritual well-being, while development institutions focus on material concerns. Moreover, many public institutions function on the underlying assumption of a separation between church and state.
This divide has been reduced in recent years, due to a common concern over issues related to globalization and the problem of overcoming persistent poverty. An important event in bringing together the two sides was the role played by faith groups in the campaign for international debt relief prior to the Jubilee Year of 2000. Nevertheless, the book acknowledges that there exist "sharp differences" between faith and development institutions over certain issues.
Referring to the title of the book, the opening chapter explains that apart from bringing the resources of the mind to bear in the fight against poverty, there is also need for the heart, source of the passion and commitment that drives both faith and development institutions. The soul, a dimension not often considered by secular institutions, can be of use because of the religious teachings and traditions that offer a new perspective. The World Bank also noted that many of the values in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are contained in religious teachings.
While faith groups have many values in common when it comes to putting ideas into practice, there are also multiple points of view on how to deal with the problem, the book explains. The experience of faith groups also varies widely from country to country, particularly with regard to their relations with government authorities.
Part of the book looks at efforts by faith organizations to deal with the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa. The World Bank acknowledged that most religious-based groups are opposed to condom use, but also recognized that the groups played a vital role through their care of the sick and the promotion of abstinence and faithfulness.
The study concludes that achieving the development goals set for coming years is a complex and arduous process. "Enormous progress on these goals is possible, but we must mobilize faith-based energy and moral authority on the world stage if we hope to make them a reality," the book states.
A much-debated theme in recent times is the relationship between faith and foreign policy. This subject was covered in another recent book, "Liberty and Power: A Dialogue on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy in an Unjust World." The introduction notes that opposition to religion's role in international affairs stems from a twofold fear: that introducing faith will only obfuscate the debate; and that religion has been, and still is, used sometimes as an excuse for violence.
But in his contribution to the volume, Father J. Bryan Hehir, former president of Catholic Charities USA and currently a professor at Harvard University, argues that there is a growing consensus that excluding religion from the political order only "yields a distorted conception of contemporary world politics." The public and social significance of religion, he continues, must be given its due attention and weight.
Father Hehir explains that the religious tradition has much to offer to the current debates over such matters as when military intervention is justified and how to deal with humanitarian problems. Be it the human rights perspective contained in recent encyclicals, or the centuries-old ideas contained in the just war ethic, religion has a worthy point of view, he says.
By contrast, Michael Walzer, a professor at Princeton University and author of many writings on just war and political theory, prefers to talk about morality in foreign policy. He affirmed that a foreign policy based on faith would be a bad idea because faith often leads to dogma and certainty, which can in turn override morality.
A moral foreign policy, continued Walzer, should be based on four propositions:
-- protect the lives of citizens.
-- not to inflict harm on the citizens of other states.
-- help the citizens of other states, when possible, to avoid or escape "the crimes and disasters of collective life."
-- help the citizens of other states, when they want to be helped, to build decent and non-repressive political systems.
In her contribution, Louise Richardson of Harvard University looked at the role religion plays in terrorist groups. She warned that it is crucial to avoid classifying religious terrorists as "an undifferentiated mass of religious fanatics." Understanding and combating these groups requires a detailed understanding of who they are and what their motivations are.
To fight terrorism, Richardson argued in favor of following ethical principles and concentrating on mobilizing people of all religious traditions in an effort to deny terrorists any effective base of support among the population.
The theme of this year's message for the World Day of Peace is taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). A useful reminder of the positive role moral values can play in international affairs.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Politics, Religion, Peace, Evil, Catholic
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- All governments must work harder to stop human trafficking
- Cardinal Pell accused of 'historic sex offenses' looks forward to ...
- Pope Francis appoints five new cardinals
- St. Veronica HD Video
- Daily Readings for Thursday, June 29, 2017
- Daily Reading for Friday, June 30th, 2017 HD Video
- St. Peter: Saint of the Day for Thursday, June 29, 2017
- Mafia responds to Pope Francis' suggestion they be excommunicated HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, June 29th, 2017 HD
- Terrorists using Christians as sex slaves and human shields in the Philippines HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 HD
Fast Burning Virtual Prayer Candle
Your contribution helps to maintain this corner of Catholic ... @ $15.00