…and neither should Christians be.
Writing for Commonweal magazine, Paul Moses looks at the latest apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and be glad”) and the call to avoid surrendering the Gospel to narrow ideologies over an openness to Christ’s grace and what that calls Christians to care about.
Moses, starting with an example of how such a thing can arise in the life of the Church, observes that the contents of Gaudete et Exsultate reflect the experience of Francis himself, particularly:
… the life experience of a pope who came of age in the political cauldron of 1970s Argentina. Appointed as the Jesuit superior at age thirty-six, he was caught between conflicting ideologies as activist, leftist priests battled the right-wing military dictatorship’s reign of terror. His early experience with “ideologies,” with one-eyed activism, and with politicians’ murderous abuse of power echoes in his thoughts on holiness. He wants to prevent the faith from being shaped to suit political ideology. His solution is to call for an Ignatian combination of contemplation and holistic social engagement, rooted in what he sometimes refers to as the transcendent “centrality of the human person,” a phrase that Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II often used.
The Gospel is, by definition, a political document. It calls those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to live in particular ways, to care about particular things, to speak about certain truths. It does not, however, define how the political life of Christians is lived out in a partisan political world. The Gospel is about Values and Truth, not about party or ideology. The task of the Christian, as it always is, is to put the Gospel into practice in the contemporary world without reducing it to any particular ideology.
That task may be a difficult one, but it is one that the Gospel demands.