“How do I talk to my kids about the Church and politics?” Father Brooke offers parents ways to address the sticky subject, focusing on the big picture. He also gives families a “brick,” activities to help build an understanding of the integral part the Church is in societies around the world.
by Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.
“How do I talk to my kids about the Church and politics?”
Through Time and Place, and Regardless of Rulers, the Church is Still Survives
In this edition of Brick by Brick I don’t want to focus in on any one particular issue (maybe in future episodes), but rather to talk about the big picture of how the Church and state relate.
I’d like to suggest a vertical and horizontal approach to examining the question.
Vertically allow us to look through history. When Christ was born and walked the earth it was under the Roman Empire. Despite persecution, the Church grew and didn’t receive legal recognition until 313 A.D. Eventually, the empire fell, the Church survived. Then later we see the rise and fall of monarchies, the Church still stood. With the dawn of the modern states and countries, the Church continues. Communism rose, in some cases, persecuted believers, and fell too. The Church is still around to tell the story. The point is simple, the Church has managed to exist (albeit, not perfectly in every era) in a variety of societal and political structures.
Despite the Variety of Governments and Governing, the Church Still Survives
Now look horizontally, the Church currently maintains diplomatic relations with 193 countries. The Church to varying degrees exists and operates in those countries. There are men and women like you and I who profess the same faith. Yet, their political structures are radically different from ours. Once again despite the variety, the Church survives.
With this global and historical picture, Now let us examine the situation in our country. So often as Americans we forget that bigger picture. We begin to see our faith through an exclusively American lens. That is we allow our faith to be dictated by a two-party democratic system. I’ve seen this done on both ends of the spectrum. When the Church’s teachings agree with one’s political persuasions then there is outcries and demands that the leaders step up and speak out, however, when it’s the Church disagrees with one’s political party, then the Church is told to be quiet and that it has no business messing in such matters.
The question comes down to this for us as adults: Do we read the Bible & Church documents through Republican or Democratic glasses? Or rather, do we see the world with the eyes of faith? Seeking to build up the Kingdom of God and a just society on Earth as Christ commanded and not as our political party prefers?
Asking those questions can become an examination of conscience of sorts to help you as parents to realize how it is that you are then talking about these issues with your children.
Teach your children about how the Church interacts today around the world.
- As a family have everyone pick out a different country and learn about their government structure. Is it a democracy? How many parties operate in the country? How are the different functions and branches of government organized?
- Learn about the Church in that country. Is it thriving? Struggling? Has it undergone persecution?
- Consider having each member of the family pick out a different country. This will help your children broaden their horizons about the nature of the world and the Church.
Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr., is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City. He is currently completing an S.T.L. in fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Additionally, he contributes columns to Catholic News Service. He can be found on all social media platforms with the handle @PadreGeoffrey, and his website www.padregeoffrey.com