Politics and political life are an integral part of every society, of civil life, and of community life. Political authority directs an ordered and upright community life in such a way as to assure citizens of their basic freedoms and rights as well as define their social and civil responsibilities, for the attainment of the common good. Such authority should be moral in nature and promote justice, peace, and healthy relationships between the political authority and the people.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states: “An authentic democracy is not merely the result of a formal observation of a set of rules but is the fruit of a convinced acceptance of the values that inspire democratic procedures: the dignity of every human person, the respect of human rights, commitment to the common good as the purpose and guiding criterion for political life. If there is no general consensus on these values, the deepest meaning of democracy is lost and its stability is compromised.”
With this statement the Church clearly tells us that moral values and morality are the foundation for a progressive and democratic society, and for its political leaders and institutions. More than economic formulas or dependence on electing a better group of leaders or change in system of government, if we are to realize a better national community, we must go back to basics – to fundamental Christian moral values. Political parties should not only enumerate their positions on national issues in their party platforms but should also reveal their respective value and morality standards, with each of their candidates aspiring for office living out these values in their personal and political lives.
We cannot change others by shouting in street rallies, or by angry criticisms leveled at our perceived opponents over radio or TV. We must begin with ourselves.
What comprises my value system?
Am I honest?
Am I just in my relationships?
Does my everyday life reflect Christian morality? Are my business dealings righteous and ethical?
Do I encourage honesty, morality, and goodness in my leaders?
Am I willing and courageous enough to stand up for my beliefs and Christian values?
We are called to be heroic Christians, especially in the political arena. We resonate with the Policy Statement of the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate in its “A Call to Heroic Citizenship.” In particular we are especially one with this paragraph.
“Now, more than ever, we are inspired by our dream of building a country where the values of Christ’s Kingdom – peace, justice, sustainable development, and love – are real and true, in our dream, our nation shall be a community of solidarity where abundance rather than scarcity is the rightful portion of every citizen. It shall be a society where no one is left out and everyone has a say, a stake and a share in the effective running of our public affairs. It shall be a world where nature’s gifts are treated not simply as resources to consume but as blessings from a caring mother who in turn also needs to be cared for.”
The bottom line here is that politics, political exercises, and political leaders are a reflection of the people they serve. If we sell our votes to the highest bidder, then we should not be surprised when those we voted for look for nefarious ways to recover their “investment”. It is said that there are no great leaders where there are no great followers. We could paraphrase this and say: there are no great moral leaders where there are no moral followers.
We are called to be heroically honest, heroically moral, heroically unselfish, and heroically responsible followers and set the example for our leaders. Where the situation warrants, we must also be heroically moral and responsible steward leaders who are, in turn, models for our followers!
Source: Evangelizing Presence — Living the Moral Life Today, by Fr. Pasquale Giordano, S.J., and Nancy Russell Catan. A BCBP Publication. Pages 131-132.