Those of us who are members of Homeowners Associations periodically get together in an assembly to make decisions. Perhaps, we even serve as officers. We are willingly taking these responsibilities; because we care about the place we live and want it run in an orderly, fair and efficient manner.
Some of us go a step further and serve in the local School District, Township Council, or County Board. The motivation is the same: care for the place we live. While still a part time occupation, this is a bigger commitment, sometimes but not always, compensated. Some stay for one of two terms to see a project realized or a problem resolved. Some seek re-election repeatedly, enjoying challenges and interaction with people. It is a balance between continuity versus fresh ideas.
Being part of these processes is important, both as citizens and as Catholics. One of the basic principles of Catholic social teaching is “Family Community and Participation”. The US Bishops comment: “The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”
Seeking the Common Good is key for the quality of life in our local communities. However, these do not exist in isolation – decisions taken elsewhere impacts them. Most of us feel less comfortable with State and Federal governments. They appear distant, political and unable to compromise. The issues are complex and hard to grasp. Power and ideology seem to drive decisions, rather than the Common Good. Because of spin, it is not easy to get the real picture. Sometimes, we feel so disenfranchised and disgusted that we rather not get involved. But, not so fast…
"Politics is one of the highest forms of charity because it seeks the common good“-- is the answer that Pope Francis gave to a teacher, who asked a question about what kind of role Catholics should play in politics (June 7, 2013). The pope said that Catholics have "an obligation to get involved in politics. “ "We can't play the role of Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of it". He continued that those who complain that politics is "too dirty" should ask themselves why. Perhaps, it's "because Christians haven't gotten involved with an evangelical spirit. “ It is easy to blame others, but instead people need to ask themselves: "Me? What am I doing about it?’
So, do we leave the decisions that affect everyone up to the politicians?
Being involved with public life and serving the Common Good is considered a “virtue” by the Church. As Catholics, we have the advantage of a well-developed body of social teaching that clearly outline the positions that are consistent with our Faith and Scriptures. We stand for life and justice, far beyond any liberal or conservative positions and our involvement in public life has nothing to do with current partisan debates.
Voice of the Poor is the ministry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul that deals with public life. Voice of the Poor Vincentians analyze the issues, build expertise in advocacy and on influencing outcomes. Under their guidance, every Vincentian can be the Voice of the Poor.
For more information about Voice of the Poor, click on:
To get involved write to firstname.lastname@example.org