Pope Francis and the common good

Dear Editor, Suppose that Pope Francis had said in his now-famous interview that Catholics should stop obsessing about social justice issues, such as combating poverty and discrimination and war, and instead preach the Gospel of mercy. There would have been a fierce outcry. And rightly so. Does the Pope not realise, people would have said, that witnessing to a God of love is not credible if it leaves out of account the upholding of people’s rights and their well-being? Does he not realise that the Gospel includes at its heart a deep and genuine concern for the common good of all people, who are made in God’s image and who live in society as our neighbours and even our brothers and sisters? And this includes concern for the necessary political, legal, social and cultural structures to enable people to flourish in this world and in this life.

So what is so different about contraception, same-sex ‘marriage’, and abortion? Why does Francis gives the strong impression that he wants us to give up or postpone any focused and energetic preaching and work in these areas, and instead preach the Gospel of mercy? Does he not realise that one cannot witness credibly to a God of love, and preach a Gospel of mercy with integrity, if one does not also at the same time concern oneself with threats to innocent life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, namely children, both unborn and born? Does he not see that the true meaning of sex, the good of marriage, the distinctive and complementary roles of fatherhood and motherhood, and the good of family based on marriage, are seriously under threat in our society and need to be defended and promoted? These are all matters of justice and the common good. They are matter of the natural law illuminated by divine revelation.

Concern and action for them comes out of, and flows into, a deep love of Christ and the Gospel. They are not mere ‘add-ons’ or distractions from the Gospel and evangelisation.

Yours etc.,

Dr John Murray,

Mater Dei Institute of Education,