Pope Francis has said that “The Church must get involved in greater politics, because – and I quote Paul VI – politics is one of the highest forms of charity”.
This constitutes an authoritative affirmation that political activity is a not just legitimate but exalted part of charity. It is part and parcel of finding effective ways of expressing love of each and every neighbour (caritas) and of humanity.
The Pope was speaking at a Judges’ Summit on Human Trafficking and Organized Crime on Friday 3rd June 2016. He said that forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other modern forms of slavery must be seen by all regious and political leaders as “real crimes against humanity”.
This was an area where the Church should do more poltitics, not less, the Pope said.
The Church was fortunate to have allies in this fight at the UN, he said, and the unanimous ratification of the new Sustainable Development Goals – which included the target of eradicating slavery and trafficking – meant that every country had the “moral imperative” of joining the fight.
The Pope urged his audience of Judges to return to their home countries to raise awareness of slavery, use their powers to rescue slaves, and prosecute slavemasters. To achieve this, they must be careful to hold on to their freedom from governments and organised crime, he warned. (SOURCE: Church Times, 10 June 2016).
This is a very significant statement, not only about the scourge of modern forms of slavery, but about the nature of charity. It puts into perspective the sentiments of part of the UK’s political class that are hostile to charitable advocacy and recent statements from the Cabinet Office describing charitable lobbying as the antithesis of good causes.