Q. As a Christian is it good to have an interest in politics and science?

Both politics and science are very much a part of everyone’s life. From the beginning of Christianity, Christians have engaged in politics and science, both contributing to and learning from them. Often there has been the wrong notion that Christianity is against politics and science. Let us explore this further, learning from the history and the teaching of the Church, which would bring clarity to your relevant question.

Historically, Catholics are numbered among important scientists of all time like Rene Descartes, who discovered analytic geometry and the laws of refraction; Blaise Pascal, inventor of the adding machine and hydraulic press; Gregor Mendel (priest), who founded modern genetics; Louis Pasteur, founder of microbiology and creator of the first vaccine for rabies; and Nicolaus Copernicus who first developed scientifically the view that the earth rotated around the sun. Moreover, Catholics constitute a big number of Nobel Laureates in Physics, Medicine and Physiology like Erwin Schrodinger, John Eccles, and Alexis Carrel. Furthermore, the Catholic Church as an institution funds, sponsors and supports scientific research at the Pontifical Academy of Science, and at the departments of science to be found in every Catholic University across the world. This financial support of science by the Church began at the very birth of science in seventeenth-century Europe and continues today. The Catholic Church has long taught a harmony between faith and reason, evidenced by the pursuit of learning by monks and the founding of the original European universities by religious orders. Christian involvement in political life from the early centuries has been one of the many expressions of Christian commitment in the world. Christians, as one early Church writer stated, “play their full role as citizens” (CCC 2240). Moreover, Christians were exhorted to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all those who exercise authority (1 Tim 2:1-2). The Church venerates many men and women who served God through their generous commitment to politics and government. Among these St. Thomas More – venerated as the patron of statesmen and politicians, taught by his life and martyrdom that “man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly teaches that “citizens should take an active part in public life” (CCC 1915). Furthermore, it states that “By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will” (CCC 898).

In a Q&A with Student Missionary League on May 1 2015, Pope Francis said that ‘Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be “dirty, frustrating and fraught with failure”. He continued that “individual Catholics must get involved and embroiled” in politics, because it is one of the “highest forms of charity” since it seeks the common good. Yet it isn’t easy, especially when there is so much corruption, he said. “It’s a kind of martyrdom” where one carries the cross of the ideal of the common good every day “without letting oneself be corrupted” or discouraged in the midst of failure.

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Fr. Bitaju Mathew OSST ,Kerala,India
Fr. Bitaju Mathew OSST ,Kerala,India

Fr Bitaju Mathew, O.SS.T. belongs to the Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives (Trinitarians). He serves as the secretary Vice Provincial of the Order in India and is currently Chaplain of the Jesus Youth International Formation Team.