I have a small group of friends – I mean small, there are three of us – who meet regularly for dinner. These are very special occasions for me and the other two members as we share more than the meal. Conversation is, so often, tastier than the delicacies we eat and it truly serves us – at least for me, for sure! – of food for the days to come, to climb and win, in good times and bad.
At the last of these dinners, we commented on various topics. The week had been fertile in news related to Catholic values, with their experience (or not).
All three of us are active Catholics and we don't hide it. Therefore, the conversation took place, with our questions and doubts and with the more or less humorous or more serious analyzes that we were producing. So many subjects touched us, so many of them directly touching on what we believe…. So many people are concerned with what can be less neutral and more promoting equality, more revealing of a certain sense of justice….
We realized that we were at a peculiar moment of reflection on the topics of conversation: the return to the Assembly of the Republic, by President Marcelo, of the Euthanasia Law; the document of the European Union, prepared by the Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, in which it was foreseen that the communication of this institution would abandon the use of several expressions, among them “Christmas”, which should be replaced by “festivities”; the scandals related to sexuality within the Church, more precisely the recent resignation of the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit.
Regarding the European Union document, Pope Francis said that it was "a fashion for liquefied secularism, distilled water", "something that has not worked throughout history" and that the "European Union must take into hand the ideals of the Founding Fathers , which were ideals of unity, of greatness, and being careful not to give way to ideological colonizations».
Regarding the resignation of the Archbishop of Paris, Francis also said that it would be impossible for anyone to govern after there were doubts about his conduct, even if nothing had been proven and clarified and that, therefore, he had accepted the resignation, «not on the altar of truth , but on the altar of hypocrisy».
About euthanasia, the Pope had already said, that it and “assisted suicide are a defeat for everyone. The answer to which we are called is never to abandon those who are suffering, not to give up, but to care and love to restore hope».
In the words of Francisco that I reproduce here, the values in which the three of us believe and defend are eloquently expressed, I think. We had no doubts. And, suddenly, Diogneto joins the conversation.
A few days earlier, another media outlet in the Algarve (Folha do Domingo) had published an article by one of these friends, who, addressing relations between Catholics, recalled a letter addressed to this man of Roman origin, who must have lived in the second century. Little is known about the author and recipient, but the words of the epistle remain one of the most eloquent descriptions of the way of life of the first Christians.
So much ink wasted on endless articles published around the world on these matters; so much airtime on radios and televisions; as much comment paid or not, more or less reasoned, more or less intelligent; so many ill-spoken and ill-received words… And the truth has been written for nearly 20 centuries!
told the letter to Diognetus: "They [Christians] obey the established laws and overcome the laws with their own lives."
The concern of the present is worthy and fair. We must say who we are and what we believe, not least because, often, without clear and credible voices, such as Pope Francis, we do not look at the problems that overshadow our daily lives with a truly assertive perspective that allows us to avoid becoming hide the nature of institutions, civilizations, history.
Above all, without this expression of thought, the free, democratic exchange of thought would not be promoted, as is provided for in most constitutions in this Europe of ours and in many other countries. And it is the duty of Catholics and other believers to work for the construction of the common good, therefore, more just laws that are in accordance with the values they defend and absolutely respectful behavior.
However, beyond the voices, beyond the easy exchanges of the commonly called "pennants", there is the conduct, the way of being and acting, which, being individual, reveals itself socially and can have a force greater than all laws and decrees . And that, recalling a famous election campaign by a politician that we are beginning to forget, is the “crust” of the issue.
For those who are truly Catholic, Christians of other religious denominations, Buddhists, Muslims, what is really asked is to go beyond the laws with their own lives. Putting it more clearly and simply: putting into practice what you believe in, without doubts or margins for misunderstandings.
And that doesn't mean being radical! It means to be loyal, that is, to understand what is fundamental, to witness it, putting it into practice, coherently, on a day-to-day basis, in all the signs that we give outwardly about our most intimate way of seeing the world and of being in it.
Basically, returning to the letter to Diognetus, revealing that, as believers, we will be in the world "what the soul is in the body".
Author: Sandra Côrtes Moreira has a degree in Social Communication from the FCSH of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, a Master's in Educational Communication from the Faculties of Arts and Human and Social Sciences of the Un. from Lisbon and Algarve and Master in La Educación en la Sociedad Multicultural by the Universidad de Huelva. She is a doctoral candidate in Educomunicación y Alfabetización Mediática at the Universidad de Huelva.
Superior Language and Communication Technician at the Municipality of Faro, is also Advisor to the Information Office of the Diocese of Algarve, member of the Pastoral do Turismo and ONPT team.