“These are the guiding principles that color what we say or do as a church,” Bishop Wester said. “Sometimes we see issues arise in the public square about which we would like to speak, but we cannot if it doesn’t have any bearing on these principles.
“But when these principles become involved,” he added, “then the church is obligated to speak out.”
This is especially true today, when Pope Francis is challenging the Catholic Church to be a church for the poor.
“The pope is calling for structural reform, trying to find a way to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” Bishop Wester said. “Millions of children die each year from disease and malnutrition. With the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the Holy Father is urging a transformation in the political conversation to enhance awareness of these concerns.”
And that, the bishop said, is the essence of the church’s role in public discourse.
“The church sees herself with other churches working with the body politic to promote responsibility for the common good,” he said. “Our church is compelled to speak in the public square to further the cause of a just society.
“And we are blessed,” Bishop Wester concluded, “to live in a free society that allows this to happen.”
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