In his recently released exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis affirms the family as the foundational unit of society, the place where children are nurtured and formed in love and where spouses grow in self-giving. “The welfare of the family,” the Holy Father says, “is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church.”
When the bishops of Minnesota had breakfast with Gov. Mark Dayton and met with legislators at the State Capitol in mid-March, they weren’t just “keeping up appearances.” Beyond the pleasantries and the occasional photo-op, the day was a powerful encapsulation of the mission of the Minnesota Catholic Conference: to protect human dignity and advance the common good by living out the Church’s right and responsibility to participate in public conversation about laws and policies.
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has waged a war on the “throwaway culture,” in which anything can be commodified and given a dollar value, and where life itself can be, in his words, “considered a consumer good to be used and then discarded.”
When we hear the word “idolatry,” we probably think first of a golden calf and pagan worship. But idolatry, giving the reverence and devotion owed to God to something created instead, is actually a much more commonplace sin. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us that idolatry “remains a constant temptation of faith.”
The current Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis is an opportunity to reconsider how the creative force of mercy can be extended to the realm of public policy. Though the aim of law is to establish justice, it can be enriched by a life-giving mercy that seeks to restore and maintain right relationships — the true aim of justice. Otherwise, the execution of justice can become merely the impersonal application of commands.
Today, “patriotism,” a proper love of country or home, is often castigated as narrow-minded, bigoted or reactionary by the cosmopolitan elites who police our public discourse.