National Catholic Register


The Church’s Power

BY Father Owen Kearns


June 24-30, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/19/07 at 9:00 AM


“We don’t intend to exercise any political power — on the contrary. But we insist on human values, and that is the most important.”

That’s how Cardinal Pio Laghi sums up his service as the papal nuncio to the United States in our Inperson interview.

That’s also how the Church could sum up its approach to politics. The Church doesn’t have an interest in the parochial power concerns of a party or a nation. Wherever she has tried to take a lead in politics, she has been led astray.

What the Church does have an interest in, is human rights — and, ironically, this has given the Church a greater impact than she would have were she reduced to a mere political special interest.

In another article, we report on President Bush’s meeting with Pope Benedict.

“President Bush was deeply moved by the experience,” said Judith Ansley, special assistant to the president.

What makes a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI a profound experience isn’t the intelligence and personality of Joseph Ratzinger. It is the moral authority of the Catholic Church that he represents — an authority that, by God’s grace, he exercises as Vicar of Christ. 

As Raymond Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, puts it: “When the most important political leader meets with the most important moral leader, the meeting is always significant.”

It’s this moral authority of the magisterium that the Register wants to give readers access to each week. Whenever possible, we quote the words of the magisterium to shed light on issues of the day.

That’s because, for us, on questions of life and the fundamental character of our society — issues like war, immigration and marriage — politics isn’t the point. “Human values — that is what’s most important.”