Vatican City (AsiaNews) – While the Christian’s gaze is turned towards Heaven, he must not forget his obligations to society – including the more general duty of paying taxes – actually, he must pay even greater attention to them, in order to combine his activities in society and his religious commitments “in a vital synthesis”.
The commitment to coherence between faith and life, between following the Gospel and doing one’s civic duty was evoked by Benedict XVI today who traced the figure of IV century Saint, Maximus of Turin, to a crowd of over 30 thousand in his general audience, during which he also reflected on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and of John Paul II.
Speaking to the faithful who filled St Peter’s square with a carpet of multi coloured umbrellas, the Pope said that the bishop Maximus, who lived during the final years of the Roman Empire, found himself having to deal with an emerging power bent on substituting the waning power of civil authorities. This led him to “preach on the deepening relationship between the duties of a Christian and those of a citizens”, because “living a Christian life means observing one’s civic duties”.
In the Pope’s words “his homilies reflect a growing awareness of the responsibility of Christians to promote a just social order grounded in solidarity with the poor”, while the bishop warned that “one does not think of the needs of the other, in fact many Christians not only do not share their goods, they even steal those belonging to others”. And in the “growing awareness of political responsibility in the changed historical context” Maximus “proclaimed that it was each individual’s precise duty to pay taxes not matter how burdensome or unpleasant”.
“It’s obvious – commented the Pope – that today the historic, social and cultural context is completely different”, “today’s context was best described in the words of John Paul II in his encyclical ‘Ecclesia in Europa’, which offers us an articulated analysis of today’s challenger and its signs for hope” but though the circumstances may have changed “the duty of the faithful towards his or her city and nation remain, and they are entwined in the obligation to be a good Christian and an honest citizen”. In this sense Benedict XVI recalled that in Gaudium et Spes the council illuminates “one of the most aspects of unity of Christian life, that of coherency between faith and life, between the Gospel and culture”. “The Council – he added – urges the faithful to ‘carry out its earthly duties under the guidance of the Gospel spirit, and that those who neglect their earthly duties in the belief that their future citizenship belongs to the Kingdom of God are mistaken, and do not reflect the fact that the faith obliges them to always observe their duties”. Let us make the Councils hopes our own”, concluded the Pope “for a vital synthesis between human, technical and scientific efforts with “religious goods” for the good of society”.