Pope Tells Bishops to Be Realistic, Not too Political

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

While addressing prelates at the close of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI advised bishops to be realistic as far as politics is concerned, but to do so from the perspective of God and His Word.

According to a report by Zenit News, 33 cardinals, 79 archbishops and 156 bishops who attended the Synod listened to the Pope speak about the theme chosen for their gathering, “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”

This theme “implies a strong political dimension,” the Pope said, but noted that “reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of thought, a ‘metanoia’ (conversion), without a newness that must come precisely from the encounter with God.”

“But even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fundamental, the political dimension is also very real, because without political realizations, these new things of the Spirit are not commonly realized,” he continued. “Thus, the temptation could have been to politicize the theme, to speak less of pastoral work and more about politics, with a competence that is not ours.”

Benedict XVI pointed out another possible danger, that of “retreating into a purely spiritual world, into an abstract and beautiful but unrealistic world.”

“The discourse of a pastor must be realistic,” he said. “It must deal with reality, but from the perspective of God and his Word.”

“So this mediation involves, on one hand, being truly connected with reality, attentive to speak of what is, and, on the other hand, to not fall into technically political solutions; that means indicating a concrete but spiritual word,” he concluded.

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