.- Pope Benedict XVI addressed the role of the faithful in politics during an audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Laity on Friday. Not only are true Christian politicians needed for true societal and political change, he said, but a greater need exists for the laity to exercise their influence in the social and political realms.
The audience with the Pope took place with members of the council, led by its president Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko. They council is currently holding its 24th Plenary Assembly, which is focused on "Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community."
Developing on the theme of the three-day assembly, the Holy Father said that it's in the hands of the faithful to provide a concrete witness to the faith in the social, cultural and political spheres. They must witness to the fact "that the faith enables them to read reality in a new and profound way, and to transform it," he said.
The lay faithful participating in political life must act "in a manner coherent with the teaching of the Church," said the Holy Father, as they bring solid reasoning and "great ideals" into the democratic debate.
Their presence should be made known by their efforts to build a consensus among those who defend life and freedom, protect truth and good in families, assist those in need and seek the common good, the Pontiff explained.
It's a "demanding challenge," he noted, referring to the situation of present day democracy, which is weakened by "the spread of a confused cultural relativism, and of a utilitarian and hedonistic individualism" that "favors the dominance of strong powers."
In light of this, "There is a need for authentically Christian politicians but, even more so, for lay faithful who bear witness to Christ and the Gospel in the civil and political community."
The Pope further explained that, although the "technical formation of politicians" is not part of the Church's mission, she reserves the right to "pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls require it."
He invited the action of all Christians to "recover and reinvigorate authentic political wisdom, to be demanding in what concerns our own sphere of competency, to make discriminating use of scientific research, and to face reality in all its aspects, going beyond any kind of ideological reductionism or utopian dream."
We must "show we are open to true dialogue and collaboration ... never forgetting that the contribution of Christians can be decisive only if knowledge of faith becomes knowledge of reality, the key to judgment and transformation.
"What is needed is a true 'revolution of love,'" he remarked.
Pope Benedict concluded by inviting the new generations to take part in political life with "a commitment founded not on their ideologies or the interests of a few, but on their choice to service man and the common good, in the light of the Gospel."