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.
For many Catholics, the most troubling aspect of the presidential campaign season is the feeling of political homelessness. Just when one of the candidates begins to sound sensible, something completely outrageous emerges out of his or her mouth. No single candidate seems to be addressing the many important policy questions of our day.
Pope Francis’ recent speeches to Congress and to the United Nations were models of Church engagement in the public arena. By re-framing the task of politics and anchoring policy debates to the natural law, both messages were radical critiques of the prevailing culture of each institution and should serve as an examination of conscience for public officials at all levels of government.
As people from around the world gather in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, it is important to take stock of one of the deepest challenges to the family today: moral relativism. Relativism is a powerful challenge to nurturing healthy families because it harms the moral ecology of society. It is hard for family life to flourish in a toxic moral, cultural and political ecosystem.
If a decline in the percentage of people who vote is any indication, people are disheartened with our political system. There seems to be a collective feeling that politics is nothing more than a partisan power struggle that serves special interests instead of the common good. People do not believe that their one voice makes a difference amidst a cacophony of competing voices.
Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” is a great gift to the Church and the world, calling everyone to an ecological conversion that embraces an ethic of right relationships with God, our bodies, our neighbors and all of creation. Recognizing, with St. Francis of Assisi, that the sun is a “brother” and the water a “sister” requires first embracing God as father.
School choice opponents often argue that creating more options for parents will allow non-public schools to skim the cream of students from public schools, leaving everyone else behind. But a recent study underwritten by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice shows that a majority of Minnesotans do not agree that school choice is an “us vs. them” issue. Rather, Minnesotans believe that everyone can benefit from more choice in education.