By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – The Christian call to love one another and to work for justice requires the active participation in the political process, Pope Benedict XVI said in his new encyclical.

“To desire the common good and strive toward it is a requirement of justice and charity,” the Pope said in his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”).

The encyclical, published July 7, said God’s love for all his creatures must be mirrored in the way they love and care for one another, engaging in acts of charity and solidarity with respect for the truth that every human life is sacred and that humanity forms one family.

“To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it,” the Pope said. “Besides the good of the inspanidual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good.”

Promoting the common good requires that inspaniduals get involved in the institutions that structure society and its laws, its civic and political life and its culture, he said.

“This is the institutional path – we might also call it the political path – of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbor directly,” he said.

Charity or love for others, the Pope said, gives a special quality to political efforts to promote the common good and helps ensure full respect for their dignity as inspaniduals whom God created and for whom he has a plan.

Religions have a vast influence over the attitudes and behaviors of their members and can mobilize people quickly to respond to emergency needs, so if faith is pushed out of the public sphere society loses a valuable partner for promoting the common good, Pope Benedict said.

When faith is excluded from public discussions or manipulated by religious fundamentalists, “public life is sapped of its motivation and politics takes on a domineering and aggressive character,” he said.