Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
December 16, 2007
Religion and Politics - Are They Compatible?
The popular notion that politics and religion don’t mix needs to be revisited. Where we got such a notion is not clear but it is not difficult to imagine. Religion, in essence, is considered to be moralistic and spiritually elevating. Politics, on the other hand, has earned a reputation for being almost totally immoral and has very little ability to lift us up on a spiritual plane. Is this the true picture?
Perhaps we can begin by examining the real purpose of politics and the political agenda as a whole. D. Christiansen, (editor in chief of the America Magazine), tells us that the prophet Isaiah has much to teach us about this topic. Isaiah is the Old Testament prophet that is probably best known for his prophecies regarding the Virgin Birth and the coming of a Messiah. The liturgies of Advent are replete with the writings of Isaiah. It is Isaiah who tells us that the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and leopard shall lie down with the kid. . .and a little child shall lead them. Is 11:6. In short, Isaiah is the great prophet of peace and justice, liberation and freedom.
Drew tells us that Isaiah speaks to us today both on a spiritual and a political level. ‘Isaiah is a political document’ he says. The aspirations Isaiah voices are ours, are they not? Just as the lion and the lamb lie down together in peace, so too must we meet one another, not in war but in peace. Isaiah was well aware that peace, although important, was not the only focus in people’s lives. If we did not know that Isaiah wrote thousands of years ago, we would have no problem believing that he wrote in the 21 st Century. As a matter of fact, if any of you have had the chance to visit the United Nations in New York City, you may have seen a depiction of Isaiah’s image, a farmer forging his sword into a ploughshare (2:4).
From another front, some forty years ago, Pope Paul VI wrote the encyclical Development of Peoples. In this encyclical he projected Christian charity into the world. He spoke of a civilization of love where we would need to experience an ‘enlargement of the heart’. “Man must meet man, nation meet nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God,” said Pope Paul. It is clear that the Pope was basing himself on the prophet Isaiah.
Are the writings of Isaiah and Paul VI simply a pipe dream? Do we believe that our world can be a place of peace and freedom, or justice and liberation for all? When we look at our politicians, are there any who exemplify this vision? If not, why not? Are we able to envision a nation and a world that embraces happiness for all. Do we have to reexamine our values and our priorities.
Catholic Social Teaching tells us that the key themes for political consideration are the very much in line with the writing of Isaiah and Pope Paul. We must be serious about our consideration for human dignity, our call to family and community and our option for the poor and vulnerable. We must take care to support the dignity of workers and take special care of our environment. These are all spiritually linked political issues. We cannot walk away from it. We must make an effort to reconnect our religion and our political aspirations. We are only one person after all. We cannot live as two separate beings whether we want to or not.
Lorette P. Nault