Pastor's Corner

My Dear Parishioners,

I found this article in America Magazine that is worth sharing with you especially in this time of pandemic authored by Blasé J. Cupich on “Politics and Pandemic: How Vatican II can help us navigate a moment of crisis”.

Our nation and our Church stand at a pivotal moment as we ponder the crucial issue of how religious communities can contribute to the Common Good in a time of pandemic and bitter partisan political division. For the Catholic community, the penetrating vision of the Second Vatican Council on religion, the state and the political order provides an unparalleled orientation, identifying a clear pathway of public engagement, conscience formation and authentic witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A New Vision of Church-State Relations

From the start, “Gaudium et Spes” (“The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”) offers a new approach toward the church’s activity in the public square. Referring to the “church in the modern world” rather than “and the modern world,” the title of the document signals that the church exists on its own terms, not because any agency gives permission or grants a right. As Vatican II’s decree on the church’s missionary activity puts it, “The pilgrim church is by its very nature missionary” (Ad Gentes.” No. 2). In other words, the church’s autonomy and freedom derive from the fact that it has been sent, that its very nature is missionary.

Moreover, while the church enjoys its autonomy to act in the world, it does not stand in competition with the world. Rather, being in the world means that the church journeys in solidarity with all of humanity. If the church is to preserve its identity as “a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of the whole human race” (“GS,” No. 42), there must be a proper balance between its autonomy and its solidarity with humanity.

Maintaining that balance means that while the church does not act as a direct agent in the political, economic and social order – not in the same way, say, as our elected officials do – its mission is to illuminate these dimensions of human life in order “to establish and consolidate the human community according to the law of God” (No. 42). As such, when the church engages the state, it should not limit itself to explicitly “religious” issues. Nor should it engage the state exclusively on issues of self-interest – for example, the protection of religious institutions.

Rather, it must speak about all that pertains to the common good, which “would include the promotion and defense of goods such as public order and peace, freedom and equality, respect for human life and for the environment, justice and solidarity (from the doctrinal note published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Nov. 21, 2002, “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life”). And the church’s proclamation of these values is not merely institutional but occurs primarily through the informed consciences of Catholics as citizens, who infuse Gospel values into the life of society and the state.

The church’s religious mission is best understood as one of service. The church offers its teachings with no pretense of having all the answers but recognizes that it will make mistakes and “will attain its full perfection only in the glory of heaven” (“Lumen Gentium,” No. 48). In Fact, the church respects human knowledge and “desires to add the light of revealed truth to mankind’s store of experience” (“GS,” No. 33, and “Evangelii Gaudium,” No. 241). This conciliar teaching corrects a mistaken attitude toward the world found in some pre-conciliar societas perfecta ecclesiologies, which viewed the church as divided from and standing over the rest of humanity.

By virtue of the universality of the church’s mission, it is not bound to any particular form of human culture, nor to any political, economic or social system. On the contrary, the church’s “universality can be very close bond between diverse human communities and nations, provided these trust her and truly acknowledge her right to true freedom in fulfilling her mission” (“GS,” No. 42). It is in this spirit that the church “admonishes her own sons and daughters, but also humanity as a whole, to overcome all strife between nations and race in this family spirit of God’s children” (No. 42). By building relationships of trust in society, the church not only advances the cause of religious freedom but remains true to carrying out its universal mission.

As the church insists that its right of free exercise “must be recognized in the juridical order and sanctioned as a civil right,” it also recognizes that religious freedom “is not of itself and unlimited right. The just limits of the exercise of religious freedom must be determined in each social situation with political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority through legal norms consistent with the objective moral order” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” No. 422; see also  “Dignitatis Humanae,” No. 2). Here again, we have an example of striking a proper balance between the church’s rightful autonomy and its commitment to work in solidarity with others, including civic officials, for the benefit of the Human community.

What I take from reading this article is the assurance that the Faith Tradition that we belong to, which is the Catholic Church, will always lead us in the right direction as far as our participation in the life and activity of the world or in this case the state that we live in. The Bishops of United Sates have been very pro-active in giving their guidance to the law makers of this country to always consider the common good as well as the inalienable right of every person to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, with freedom and justice for all.

Let us pray for each other and let us also ask God to deliver us from the threat of this coronavirus. May those who have been infected by COVID-19 receive healing and strength from our loving God, and the motherly care of our Blessed Virgin Mary.

Peace,
Fr. Riz

P.S.

By all means, please be counted in the Census 2020! The process is very easy just call (844)330-2020 or go to www.2020census.gov and answer few questions that are asked of you. That is all it takes. Please do it now, I already did it very early on.

ABOUT THE 2020 CENSUS

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform how state, local, and federal lawmakers will allocate billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities every year for the next 10 years.