Cardinal Parolin: "Just as the Church needs you, you need the Church."
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who heads the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, shared a message on Friday with participants of the fifth annual conference of the International Catholic Legislators Network.
The Aug. 28-31 conference, held outside of Rome in Frascati, gathered Catholic parliamentarians from around the world to discuss the promotion of Christian values and morals in the political arena. His English-language message included a greeting from Pope Francis.
The network was founded in 2010 by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and British parliamentarian Lord David Alton.
Below is Cardinal Parolin’s complete message to the conference participants:
I am happy to be with you, lawmakers and associates, who are actively engaged in the public and political life of your countries and local communities, and whose professional work is nourished and guided by your Catholic faith. I wish to thank you for what you are doing to promote coherent Catholic witness in the world. I know that you are here because you are passionate about the “city on earth” which seeks to root Christian morals and virtues ever more authentically in communities around the world, so that together we may reach the “City of God.”
Just yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Augustine, to whom we owe the image of these two cities. History is not unambiguous nor of itself indifferent; it concerns the movement of two loves and the conflict between them. Two loves – he writes – give rise to two cities: the earthly one of love of self even to indifference towards God; and the heavenly one, of love of God even to indifference towards self (The City of God, XIV, 78). In difficult times of continual conflict and great uprising, as in the fall of Rome and the invasion of the Vandals who besieged Hippo at the very moment when Augustine was dying, he not only did not lose heart, but took up a heated dispute, calling upon the faith as the key to interpretation. He dedicates an entire work, The City of God, to learning how to understand the present circumstances and to establishing a new order for living in society. It is a reading according to the logic of wisdom, which places the heart of man at the centre and indicates the true nature of Christian hope. I believe that in our own difficult times, too, valuable indications emerge clearly from the experiences and teachings of Saint Augustine.
Dear friends, we can say without hesitation that the Church needs you in her universal mission, and in turn, you need the Church as mother and teacher of all.
In her diversity of service to the world, the Church has a single mission (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2): to restore all things in Christ. For this task, the Church needs you, active Catholic legislators, because your law-making is a vital part of the lay apostolate – to “have the Gospel spirit permeate and improve the temporal order.” As shapers of policy your role is not only to live “in the midst of the world,” but also to be “a leaven in the world” in favor of the family, the local community and your respective nations. The great challenge for you is to bring your faith to bear upon the pressing issues facing the world today, that is, to dialogue with society and culture, and to humbly speak from the light which our faith offers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238).
His Holiness Pope Francis has written that we are to strive to “light a fire in the heart of the world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 271). This means, by your words, by your witness and by your legislative and political actions informed by faith, you are called to foster a more just society, centred on the dignity of the human person.
The Church knows your work is not easy. She understands the many threats to family life, in the form of policies and laws that allow or even hasten the dissolving of the family. She is also fully aware of the urgent need to alleviate poverty and to support the integral development of society’s most neglected members. And so, just as the Church needs you, you need the Church. She places at your disposal her sacraments, her wise counsel and her commitment to the moral truths of the natural law. She supports your ongoing initiatives to serve the common good through sound lawmaking. For their part, the Holy Father and the bishops encourage your work to further Christ’s kingdom on earth, in unity with their mission as pastors.
Dear friends, I invite you to grow in holiness, deepening your own personal commitment to conversion so that your witness and dialogue with the world may bear lasting fruit. May you always strive to kindle the “fire in the heart of the world,” by your consistent and patient witness to the teachings of the Church.