Father Eugene Hemrick

In his address to the U.S. Congress, French President Emmanuel Macron reminded lawmakers to think about working to make the world greater and less about making America great.

World greatness is a laudable ideal, but how can this be accomplished realistically?

One answer is contained in four marks of the church as presented in the creed: “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.” Herein is a sound road map to a greater world.

Recently I conducted a priests’ retreat that exemplifies the power of oneness running through the Scriptures. Those attending represented Nigeria, Mexico, Poland, Somalia, India, Ireland and the U.S. As diverse as their cultures were, we were one in spirit in spreading God’s goodness. The retreatants demonstrated that the key to a greater world is the appreciation and respect of contributions diverse cultures make.

In Rome, St. Peter’s Square is surrounded by Bernini’s curved rows of colonnades symbolizing the universal embrace of the church and its desire to be one with the world. In preferring inclusion over exclusion, the Catholic Church’s universality points to another essential means for making world progress.

It is truly heartwarming to see the oneness of a mother embracing her child or witnessing people coming together in support of one another. These moments of togetherness in times of joy and sorrow show us the world at its best.

St. John Paul II often spoke of solidarity and putting ourselves in the shoes of others. Here we are reminded of the importance of sympathy and camaraderie in making the world greater.

When we think of an apostolic church, it reminds us of the apostles being sent out to the world. Not only did they travel to foreign countries; they also were met with hostility and hardships. Their apostolic mission was not for the fainthearted.

Whenever there is talk of making the world greater, there is always resistance. Why is this so?

Achieving greatness requires death to old ways and personal sacrifice. And too, apostolic courage is needed to resist naysayers and those locked in insularity.

In pointing to making the world greater, Macron raised the bar to great heights but not out of sight. The principles embedded in these four marks of the church — oneness, universality, holiness and apostolic courageousness — will help to create a greater world.