“My humanity is bound up in yours.” So writes Meghan Clark in an article that addresses the stark contrast between Catholicism and libertarianism and speaks to the underpinnings of so much of the Vincentian Family’s concern for those who are marginalized.
What does it mean to be a human person?
To understand what Pope Francis says on poverty, inequality and exclusion, you have to first understand this deep unity of the one human family, of our belonging to each other and our standing together before God. This is the foundation of Pope Francis’ key insights. The threat of libertarianism is not primarily political; it is theological. Libertarianism creates a barrier to seeing the other as neighbor, as brother or sister.
My humanity is bound up in yours. This is concrete, not abstract. In a visit to the Jesuit Refugee Center in Rome, Pope Francis addressed the refugees: “To serve means to work alongside the neediest, first of all to establish a close human relationship with them, based on solidarity. Solidarity, this word elicits fear in the developed world. They try not to say it. It’s almost a dirty word for them. But it’s our Word!”
This is the very heart of Christianity: Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God becoming human. Solidarity is our word rooted in the radical identification of Jesus with the poor, the marginalized, and the excluded in Matthew 25. The dignity of the person is inextricably tied to the common good. The Christian understanding of the person recognizes, as Martin Luther King Jr. poetically preached, that “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made.” This is the gift, challenge and duty of the one human family. For Catholicism, this is who we are, and this is fundamentally incompatible with libertarianism.
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[Meghan Clark is an assistant professor of moral theology at St. John’s University. She is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies and a writer for Millennial.]