It’s not sufficient — or acceptable — to be cynical about politics. It’s absolutely true that politics won’t solve our problems and save our souls, but disengagement is not a moral option.
In his latest media interview, Pope Francis observes, when asked about the heads of state who have come to visit him during his first 15 months as pontiff:
Many have come and it’s an interesting variety. Each one has their personality. What has called my attention is the cross made between young politicians, whether they are from the center, the left or the right. Maybe they talk about the same problems but with a new music, and this I like, this gives me hope because politics is one of the more elevated forms of love, of charity. Why? Because it leads to the common good, and a person who, [despite] being able to do it, does not get involved in politics for the common good, is selfish; or that uses politics for their own good, is corrupt. Some fifteen years ago the French bishops wrote a pastoral letter reflecting on the theme “Restoring Politics.” This is a precious text that makes you realize all of these things.
(Translation via the Catholic News Agency.)
It’s our job to restore politics to that which elevates and works for the common good.
This is not a new view of Jorge Bergoglio’s. In a series of conversations with his good friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka (who recently traveled the Holy Land with him), he expressed: “The loss of credibility in the political arena must be reversed because politics is a very elevated form of social charity.” (I discussed that book-length exchange, On Heaven and on Earth with the translator, my friend Alejandro Bermudez, here.)
That newly canonized St. John Paul II is a good go-to saint for redeeming politics now, isn’t he?
St. John Paul II, pray for us.
And here’s a good prayer via The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities: “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”