The duty to participate in society
Like it or not, we Catholics are called to participate in civic life. We’re not supposed to sit at home and complain about life; we’re supposed to do something about it.
This is because the primary universal mission of all human beings is to seek the truth and live in accordance with it – which, for us Catholics, means looking for God and finding our way back to Him. Among other things, this means that, being social creatures, we have a duty to ensure that all of the social structures we build are configured enable and encourage each of us in that effort – and that we do nothing, individually or collectively, to hinder anyone who is sincerely engaged in it.
This can be seen in instructions that Christ himself gave us. First, he made it clear that our overriding task is not to worry about the things we own or want to own, but to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6: 33.) In the parable of the talents, he made it clear that we are meant by our Creator to use all of the gifts – all the talents, strengths, and passions – that have been granted to us not for our own selfish purposes, but for those of our Creator. (Matthew 25:14-30).
And in the same chapter of Matthew he pointed out that when this life is over we will be judged, at least in part, as nations as well as individuals:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Using all our gifts means using our voices to contribute to social decision-making processes, to the extent we are able. This is affirmed by § 1915 of the Catechism:
Those of us who live in participative democracies are able to participate in decision-making in numerous ways. We can join political parties, run as candidates, join non-profit organizations, work to raise awareness, correspond with candidates and incumbents, etc. At a bare minimum, we have an obligation to properly form our consciences and to prayerfully vote.
The process is iterative:
- Inform yourself
- The Social Teachings
- The News
- Must be approached responsibly
- Our primary source should not be Facebook or e-mail chains
- Find at least one Catholic and one balanced secular source, and support them