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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why the Church must not be afraid to speak out

(See also Vox populi, vox Dei? by the same priest.)

The world of public opinion

IF the Church really has to tackle the challenges of today more effectively, I think it has to be more active in the world of public opinion. That´s where a lot of action is taking place these days, action that both reflects the flowing signs of the times and helps to shape them.

Without leaving behind or neglecting, but rather enhancing and purifying the traditional means, the Church has to go beyond preaching to the choir.

She has to step into the more tricky and challenging waters of the secular world. I think this is what Pope Benedict has been saying when talking about communications.

True, we should not leave the pulpits, but neither should we get stuck there. We have to go to the modern Areopagi that are now the media, the Internet, the blogosphere, the social networks, etc.

It´s important that as we tighten always to our faith, we also know how to loosen ourselves and flow with the times.

We need to proclaim, explain and defend the faith there. My opinion is that we, priests, for example, should try to meet all kinds of people where they are—in the immense variety of human conditions— and try to bring them where they should be. But they have to be met first where they are. And that can mean to get ¨dirty¨ with them.

Of course, we have to clarify that when we say Church involvement in public opinion, it does not only mean the priests and bishops. In fact, they should play a more subsidiary role. The more prominent role should fall on the laity who should be more active here. They have to act not as longa manus of the clergy, but as citizens consistent to their faith.

My experiences in the school where I work and my exposure to the businesses of friends and relatives tell me how important it is to monitor developments continually and act promptly when prudence dictates some intervention is needed. Our fervent prayers and good intentions would not be enough if action is not taken.
For example, though I have not been involved in business since I became a priest 20 years ago, I somehow get to know the pulse of the market because my sister, who owns a chain of department and grocery stores, frequently informs me about her business developments.

I suspect she does it to fish out some ideas from me, since I had business experience before priesthood. Her info enriches me, since it expands my world, forcing me to go beyond my preferences, learn new things and enter somehow into the minds and hearts of people.

Market trends reflect people´s state of mind, among other things.

The world of public opinion nowadays precisely needs the presence of the Church, the indispensable contribution of faith and religion, since at the moment, it is becoming a metastasizing blob of views and positions that confuse people more than enlighten them.

The topics and issues discussed there are not anymore merely economic, social or political, but do have eminently spiritual and moral implications.

There´s a lot of ignorance, confusion, outright errors, and, yes, malice, insofar as the spiritual and moral dimensions are concerned.

In the current RH debate, for example, I realize how deep and extensive are the anti-Church and anti-religion sentiments of many people, including those who were educated by our so-called Catholic schools. It makes me wonder what these schools have been doing for years.

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