Pope Francis: Through virtue, political life can be a form of charity

Pope Francis: Through virtue, political life can be a form of charity

Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on May 2, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on May 2, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

.- Pope Francis identified political virtues and vices in his 2019 peace message released Tuesday, offering examples from the “Beatitudes of a Politician.”

“If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity,” Pope Francis wrote in his message for the 2019 World Day of Peace, released Dec. 18.

The pope encouraged international leaders to “practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.”

“Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility. Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest … Blessed be the politician who works for unity,” Francis said, quoting the late Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận’s “Beatitudes of a Politician.”

Other blessed “political beatitudes” include working “to accomplish radical change” and being “capable of listening.”

Pope Francis warned that “politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions.”

“When political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction,” he said.

Francis stressed that “political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable,” adding that there is a “need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background.”

“We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power,” he said.

“To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile,” Francis continued.

The World Day of Peace --  instituted by St. Pope Paul VI in 1968 -- is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The pope provides a special message for the occasion, which is sent to all foreign ministers around the world.

In the 2019 message, signed on the Dec. 8 feast of the Immaculate Conception and published Dec. 18, Pope Francis described peace as being like “a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence.”

“Offering peace is at the heart of the mission of the disciples of Christ. And this offer is addressed to all those men and women who hope for peace amid the tragedies and violence of human history,” he said.

Pope Francis added, “One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”

Tags: Politics, Catholic News, Pope Francis, World Day of Peace