The Church’s Role in the Modern World
From the 1960's there have been increasing indications that the world at large expects the Church to have something to contribute, not just on moral issues, but also on issues related to world affairs generally. For example, both Pope Paul VI and John Paul II have been invited to address the United Nations. The Church has responded in word and deed.
Many of the Encyclical Letters of the Popes have dealt with social and economic matters. Paul VI's speech at the United Nations advocated the admission of China to the Assembly, and this subsequently took place. From 1964 the Church has maintained a permanent observer at the United Nations.
The Church has provided many forms of aids through agencies such as Caritas. It has also offered mediation in various disputes. In the events leading to the collapse of Communism in 1989, Pope John Paul II was recognised by world leaders as a significant and powerful force.
Official Roman projects have been replicated throughout the particular Churches all over the world. The work of Religious (such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta) in many places, including our own Vicariate. The White Sisters working in Yemen were immensely appreciated by the government and the poor people they served medically. Though they were known to be Christian, they wore no habit, but served the non-Christian people in the spirit of Christ. Many lay associations have been set up to address specific social needs. Recently, the Church in our Vicariate has worked closely with the Red Crescent Society to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq. Basic communities everywhere have been concerned to promote the welfare of disadvantaged people, promote their welfare, and restore hope for the future. Politicians and local military governments have not always welcomed these Church-based initiatives. In central and south America in particular, Church social workers have been imprisoned, tortured, and even assassinated, as was Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador in 1980
From domination, withdrawal, detachment in the past, the Church has entered a phase of practical commitment to all human life, from the womb (in its pro-life work) to the tomb (in its stand against euthanasia), via the many joys and sorrows, the griefs and anxieties of life - because these are the joy, sorrows, griefs, and anxieties of the followers of Christ.
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