The Church sees herself as an advocate for peace, social justice, solidarity and general ethics, but not as an entity who holds or seeks the power to implement or enforce any kind of political programs. The only power the Church retains in this time and age is the power of the “Word” – not the oppressive, coercive, manipulative word- but the humble and loving Word as was shown to us in Christ.
While on earth Christ did not seek power, instead He became the symbol of powerless, tortured mankind. But in His dying He overcame the power of sin (oppression) and death.
Christ sought the company of the outcasts and showed solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, the disdained strangers and even with those of the strange other religion (the Samaritans).
The Church sees herself as the Body Christ, a Body of a billion members living now on earth – united with those who came before us. She must follow the foot-steps of Christ to fulfill her purpose.
The Catholic Church is therefor not only a hierarchy or an institution of religious workers, from the Vatican to the dioceses and parishes . She is not only the Pope, the Cardinals, the bishops and priest, but she is all of us Catholics. She is the community of over one billion living people, who are members of the Catholic Church.
And in two millennia the Church has learned by painful experience, following Christ means to refrain from seeking political power, instead it means showing solidarity with the powerless, the poor and the oppressed.
And yes, I do realize that many non-Catholics cannot believe that the Church doesn´t seek any political power. They keep reminding me of the Church´s history during the Middle Ages until well into 18. century, the political and sometimes violent struggle between secular and religious authorities, the Catholic Church´s influence on oppressive law-giving, brutal military and ruthless colonial and imperialist powers, the intolerance often shown toward non-Catholics, non-Christians and non-religious groups, the Crusades.
But the dark parts of the Church´s history are exactly the reason why she nowadays keeps herself away from political power. “For power tends to corrupt,” and the more power the Church had in the past, the more she was weakened by inner corruption.
Vatican City with it´s tiny area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of just over 800 citizens is the only state, where Church clergy is allowed to hold political offices.
Ordinary lay Catholics are, of course, free to participate in democratic political processes on all levels. We Catholics are even encouraged to do so, hopefully taking with us the ethical principles we have learned.
This is called democracy not “infiltration” as some suggest.
As for the accusation, that Church is ultra-rich, “operates” in secret and on a secret agenda – it´s just not true.
The Church finances herself through the contributions of her membership. The earthly “wealth” of the Church are buildings, which need a lot of money in the upkeep, and some works of religious art. The money from member contributions is immediately spent on expenses and charity organizations, not on luxuries. It doesn´t enrich individuals or elite groups.
The agenda of the Church, her values and ethics are open and public. All Church archives have been opened to all researchers, Catholics and non-Catholics. And with the abuse scandal made very much public in the last few years, the Church has no more secrets, nothing to hide any more. (I´ll write about the abuse scandal and it´s causes in another post)
As you will see, the Catholic Church is not opposed to “globalization”. But the word has another meaning for her than for the political elites of the western world. For the Church the word means global solidarity, global respect for human life, civil rights and the dignity of the human person. It means fair trade and a sharing of information, knowledge, technology and development opportunities.
The Church´s view allows for profit on personal work and effort, but not at the expense of driving others into abstract poverty and deny them the opportunity to earn a reasonable living.
The Church is opposed to financial speculation and environmental destruction.
She is opposed to occupations and other forms of political oppression as well as economic war-fare.
She supports grass-root participation of ordinary people in the political processes of nations, as well as giving encreased poltical power to the communities and less to entities farther away from the individual and the family. This is called the susidiarity principle, where individual freedom and personal choices are respected, since they form the foundation of respect for human dignity.
The Church does support international cooperation and international institutions, if they are guided by democratic principles, but she opposes the violation of national sovereignty and the any kind of world-domination.
Having taken the time to look at the official Church position papers as well as at the practical social justice work done by Church organizations, I found no discrepancies between faith, word and action in general. Although I do realize that individuals within organizations are never free from weaknesses, often prone to making serious mistakes and in a few cases even ready to commit criminal acts.
And while we Catholics are far from perfect, we are also far away from the bad image painted of us in most mainline media outlets or on some anti-Catholic websites.
In my opinion, the painting of Catholic priests as altogether pedophiles and of Catholic lay people as supporters of sexual child-abuse, as well as the false rumors of secret agendas and secret wealth which are spread among (mainly American) Protestants, is being done to create an anti-Catholic paranoia and make cooperation between Catholics and non-Catholics for common goals more difficult.
Just as the media demonization of Muslims as prone to fanaticism and violence is an attempt to prevent wide-spread Christian-Muslim solidarity.
Both are attempts of divide and conquer. I pray that soon we will be able to stop falling for these old tricks for all of our sakes.
We do not have to agree on everything, we most likely never will. But our disagreements on certain aspects of politics and religion do not have to become unsurmountable obstacles which could prevent us from cooperating on those political and social issues which most of us agree upon.
Disagreements do not have to turn violent, and most definitely should not become the very opportunity those humanity-hating global elites seek out constantly in order to divide and conquer all the rest of us. These elites do that by setting us up so we will be constantly at one another´s throat. And while we are busy fighting among ourselves, they can protect and increase their powers over us and their unearned privileges.
At this moment in history we all are in grave danger. Every day we are witnessing further preparations for a new global war, one in which the worst kinds of weapons of mass-destruction will be directed against most of humanity. If these war-plans are executed, then I see dark times ahead, for us, our children and many future generations.
Working together in opposing those war-plans and stopping the current wars is the most important task for this generation. And only if we work together on it, all people of good will, only then, do have a chance of success.