Four of the seven heads of government at the G7 are Catholic. We know that Joe Biden bases his world vision on Catholic Social Teaching – how about the others and the other three leaders?
Should we expect these heads of government to follow Catholic teaching? Shall we condemn them if they don’t? Certainly, Biden knows that at the next meeting of the USA bishops a number of them want to excommunicate him (refuse him Holy Communion) for being pro-choice instead of being absolutely anti-abortion. There are two strong groups of USA bishops with different understanding of politics and religion, and they are public about it. A number of them and their priests preached at the recent presidential election in favour of Donald Trump because he professed himself anti-abortion – a powerful bloc of Catholics and other Christians voted for him led by their faith understanding.
Catholic social teaching starts at recognising the equality and unique place of every person in God’s world “from the womb to the tomb” as has been observed. A reverence for the life of everyone. The documents of Vatican II (1962-65) reflect this reverence. Here is a quote from ‘The Church Today’: “There is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to human beings, since they stand above all things and their rights and duties are universal and inviolable.
Therefore there must be made available to everyone everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing and shelter; the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one’s own conscience, to protection of privacy and to rightful freedom in matters religious.”
If you know that you think like that you are thinking with the Church. Sadly, you may look at many parts of the world and see hatreds, wars, injustice, prejudice where no such vision is manifest. God’s love is not seen, the dignity of every human being is not recognised, and the power and the desire for wealth and political domination ruin countries and societies where justice would see enough for everyone if we learned to share.
We pray and hope for the G7 that they bring something of that vision to a divided world, that we learn to look everywhere with love and longing to protect and nourish.
“Good news to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, setting the people free” was how Jesus introduced himself at the beginning of his ministry – a beautiful summary of love for a broken world. The Church, even with its many failures, wants to live that message. What horrible failings there have been and are, but what sublime witness by saints in the good people of everyday life.
We pray that we live Christ’s vision, in spite of the world’s and Church’s failings, inspiring and being inspired by those who love and serve.
Dear God, bless us and bless our elected leaders to help bring justice worldwide.
(13th June 2021)