17 March 2009

Daily work of priests fundamental for humanity, says Pope

Father Giampiero Ialongo posed the fourth question of the day to His Holiness on 26 February 2009 during his meeting with the Clergy of the Diocese of Rome.

Father Ialongo's question concerned the global crisis of the economy in these days and how Pope Benedict thought best to address "the causes that have led to this widespread crisis."

The Holy Father said that it is the duty of the Church to denounce injustice and to also show the way forward. At the same time, however, "lofty moralizing does not help if it is not substantiated by knowledge of the facts, which also helps one understand what it is possible to do in practice to gradually change the situation." The Church, then, must speak competently on such issues so as not to lose credibility.

For Pope Benedict, the question boils down to original sin; does it really exist? His answer is worth quoting in full:

If it did not exist we could simply appeal to lucid reason, with arguments accessible and indisputable by all, and to the good will that exists in everyone. In this way we could make good headway and reform humanity. But it is not like this: reason including our own is obscured, we notice this every day. For selfishness, the root of avarice, lies in wanting above everything only for myself, in being concerned for the world only as far as it serves me. It exists in all of us. It clouds reason which can be very learned, the finest scientific arguments, yet still obscured by false premises. In this way we can move along with great intelligence, bounding ahead, but on the wrong road. The will too, as the Fathers say, is distorted, it is not simply inclined to do good, but can seek above all else itself or its own interests. To find the way of reason, of true reason, is therefore already something far from easy, and is developed only with difficulty in dialogue. Without the light of faith that penetrates the shadows of original sin, reason cannot progress. But faith itself then comes up against the resistance of our will. The latter does not want to take the path of self-denial and a correction of the individual will in favour of the other rather than for ourselves.

I would say, therefore, that these errors should be addressed with reasonable and reasoned arguments, not with high moralizing but with concrete reasons that are understandable by economics today.
The only way out of this situation is for just men to stand up, "for if there are no upright people ... justice will remain theoretical" and "and there cannot be just people without the humble, daily work of conversion of hearts, of creating justice in hearts," the daily work of priests. Consequently, "the work of the parish priest is so fundamental, not only for the parish but also for humanity."

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