The Pope has lamented the “rosaries of insults and swear words, of rejections” to which politicians and prelates are subjected.
Driving the news
On Monday Francis returned to his practice of saying daily public Masses in the chapel of his residence, the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, after a three-month summer break.
The Pope devoted his homily in Monday’s Mass to explaining St. Paul’s instruction to Christians in his New Testament Letter to Timothy (2:1-8) to pray for all in positions of authority “without anger or argument”, “so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity”.
Paul “is talking about prayer for people in government, for politicians, and for the people responsible for political institutions, nations, and regions”, Francis explained.
But rather than prayers, politicians are often subject to insults, the Pope noted, as are priests and bishops.
Though “some deserve it”, hurling curse words at authority figures has become “like a habit”, Francis deplored.
Rather than praying for politicians “only if they are worth it”, as Catholics and citizens sometimes do, we must “pray for all of them”, Francis said.
“How can we leave them alone, without asking God to bless them?”
Why it matters
In this context of all-too-common political tension, the Pope recalled the recent political crisis in Italy.
In August, former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini withdrew his League party’s confidence in its governing coalition with the Five-Star Movement, hoping to capitalise on high poll numbers in early elections.
But the move backfired spectacularly after the Five-Star Movement reached a new agreement with the Democratic Party, and a new Government was sworn in early September.
“Who of us prayed for people in government? Who of us prayed for parliamentarians, so that they might reach an agreement and guide the nation forward?”, the Pope said about the crisis.
“It seems that the patriotic spirit doesn’t reach into prayer. Sure, criticism, hate, fighting, and it ends there. […]
“Discussion must happen, and this is the role of parliament. Discussion must occur, but without annihilating the other. Rather, each must pray for the other, for those who have a different opinion than I do”.
The Pope concluded his sermon insisting that politics is not a “dirty” business, even if citizens sometimes accuse Governments of being “too communist” or “corrupt”.
Rather, politics is “the highest form of charity”, as Pope Paul VI once said.
“It may be dirty, just like any profession can be dirty… We are the ones who dirty something but it is not so by nature. I believe that we must convert our hearts and pray for politicians of all stripes, all of them!”, Francis encouraged.
“Pray for people in government. This is what Paul asks of us. […]
“People in government are responsible for the life of their country. It is good to think that, if people pray for authorities, people in government will be capable of praying for their people”.