A Message for Politicians  by Pope John Paul II


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  Fr. Joe Landi

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          At the beginning of the new century and the new millennium, those responsible for public life are faced with many demanding responsibilities. It is precisely with this in mind that, in the context of the Great Jubilee, I have wished, as you know, to offer you the support of a special patron:  the martyr Saint Thomas More.

                Thomas More's life is truly an example for all who are called to serve humanity and society in the civic and political sphere.  The eloquent testimony that he bore is as timely as ever at this historical moment that presents crucial challenges to the consciences of everyone involved in the field of governance.  As a statesman, he always placed himself at the service of the person, especially the weak and the poor.  Honor and wealth held no sway over him, guided as he was by an outstanding sense of fairness.  Above all, he never compromised his conscience, even to the point of making the supreme sacrifice so as not to disregard its voice.  Invoke him, follow him, and imitate him!  His intercession will not fail—even in the most difficult of situations—to bring you strength, good-naturedness, patience and perseverance.

.       “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This saying surely strikes a chord in your hearts, dear government leaders, and members of parliament, politicians and public administrators.  It poses a fundamental question:  How, in your delicate and demanding service to the State and to its citizens, can you carry out this commandment?  The answer is clear:  by living your involvement in politics as a service to others.  An approach as magnificent as it is demanding!   It cannot in fact be reduced to some generic restatement of principles or a declaration of good intentions. Political service is lived in a precise and daily commitment that calls for great competence in the fulfillment of one's duties and unswerving morality in the selfless and accountable exercise of power. 

                On the other hand, the personal integrity of the politician also needs to find expression in a correct conception of the social and political life that he or she is called to serve.  From this standpoint, Christian politicians need to make constant reference to those principles that the Church's social doctrine has developed in the course of time.  These principles, as we know, do not constitute an "ideology" and even less a "political program"; rather, they offer a fundamental approach to understanding the human person and society in the light of the universal ethical law present in the heart of every human being, a law which is clarified by the revelation of the Gospel.  You, dear brothers and sisters engaged in political life, must be eloquent and effective proponents of these principles
                Christians must guard against yielding to the temptation to violent conflicts, which often cause great suffering to the community.  Dialogue remains the irreplaceable instrument for every constructive confrontation, both within States and in international relations.  And who could better take on the "burden" of this dialogue than a Christian politician, who every day must measure up to what Christ has called "the first" of the commandments, the commandment of love? 

                All of this takes on particular importance in the present situation of profound change that has seen the emergence of a new dimension of politics.  The decline of ideologies has been accompanied by a crisis of partisan alliances, which in turn calls for a new way of understanding political representation and the role of institutions.  There is a need to rediscover the true meaning of participation and to involve more citizens in seeking suitable ways of advancing towards an ever more satisfactory attainment of the common good. 
                May the Lord help you to become politicians after his own heart, emulators of St. Thomas More, courageous witnesses of Christ and conscientious servants of the State.

Condensed from L’Osservatore Romano, 8 Nov 2000, as reported from the Holy Father’s 3 Nov 2000 Mass for Government Leaders


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