The Corner

The Tweeting, Op-ed-Writing Pope

Well, if folks in media — and on social media — were looking for a little love this Christmas, how about a fully-engaged, interactive pontiff? Last week, of course, Pope Benedict XVI posted his first tweets on Twitter, in response to questions asked to his @pontifex account. Today he’s in the Financial Times on the topic of Christmas, the Incarnation, what should make every day different for Christians and really therefore for the world (if Christians really lived as Christians, that wouldn’t be a bad deal for everyone): 

The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience. At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?

Christmas can be the time in which we learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus not only as the child in the manger, but as the one in whom we recognise that God made man. It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs – be it in the Houses of Parliament or the stock exchange. Christians should not shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology.

Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. They work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that – as stewards of God’s creation – we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. The belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.

Because these goals are shared by so many, much fruitful co-operation is possible between Christians and others. Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God. Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the past century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God. When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated worldview. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.

The pope, in full, here. Not a bad deal for the Financial Times. I wonder how many people today are finally signing up for the free online registration after virtual, stubborn “nevermind” posture.

By the way, this week in my syndicated column (wherein I call the pope The Slowest Tweeter), I talk with a Vatican insider about the strategy of it all. 

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