Monday, December 12, 2011

Church perspectives

IN the world of public opinion, there’s no doubt that a battle of perspectives is taking place.  Each party has their own platforms or set of principles from which they see events and make their judgments, and many times they clash.

Just take a look at the newspapers, the hard copy or online, and the ever growing number of blogs in the digital continent, and you would have no doubt that indeed there is some kind of war raging out there. 

Social and political observers have attempted to classify them as conservatives or liberals, leftists or rightists, partisan or independent, secular or religious, etc.  One can’t help but use these categories to more or less simplify our life, though we have to admit that these have their limits that we should always be aware of.

This is but normal, as long as we don’t forget that amid the flux of views and positions reflecting one’s attitudes and outlook in life, there is an unchanging core that should unite all of us together. 

This is normal, because we always see things differently, even if we come from the same family, same school, same city and province, etc. Even in our own individual selves, if the different parts of the body could just speak, they too would have different takes on any concern.

Human condition makes each one of an individual person, with a unique character and unrepeatable life and everything that goes with it. We should not be surprised that we have different backgrounds, experiences, attitudes, and therefore different views.

But the problem arises when we get mixed up—when in failing to distinguish between what is absolute and relative, we absolutize what is relative, and relativize what is absolute.

The Church, the “expert in humanity,” offers a perspective that sets the line between what is absolute and relative. That´s because the Church assumes the perspective of God who through Christ in the Holy Spirit has endowed her with powers to do so. ¨Whatever you bind here on earth is bound in heaven...¨

We have to listen to what the Church says, but, of course, we also have to make sure that the Church says something about issues, questions, challenges, etc. She always has or should always have something to say, because whatever affects man, even in his temporal affairs, affects God and therefore the Church.

This is her prophetic mission which is carried out in different ways by the different elements that comprise her. The clergy, starting with the Pope, the bishops down to the priests, have an official or authoritative character when carrying out this function. Thus they have to be suitably competent for the office they occupy.

The lay faithful also have their prophetic mission as they try to infuse the Christian spirit in the earthly affairs they are involved in. This does not mean that the Church can dogmatize on matters of opinion, but she will always have something to say about how these matters ought to be handled.

But because of her human dimension, she cannot but act also in a human way, that is, there is need for study, for consultation, for testing, for correcting, etc., especially when she has to comment on temporal and earthly issues like business, politics, culture, sports, entertainment, etc.

That´s why the social doctrine of the Church has been articulated so that there can be some ground rules to follow in pursuing our earthly business and politics. This is what the Church perspectives provide.

This is a crucial element in any given society, otherwise we will tend to chaos as differences and conflicts can lose their unitive basis and purpose, and their capacity to resolve themselves.

No comments: