This was an impromptu address given by then-Cardinal Bergoglio concerning the role of the human person in political and social policy and life from 2001. It was accessed at AICA and has been here translated by me.
Rehabilitating the Political
Address of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., improvised for the end of the 4th Archdiocesan Pastoral Social working-day meeting, completed in the college of the Sacred Heart, the 30th of June of 2001
This is a sphere [or area/place; span: ambito] of encounter, of dialogue; one without exclusions. This is a sphere where all we who responsible are located, in one way or another, in the aid of our peoples concerning social and political participation [activity].
There were things that you here said which made an impression of me and I would like to revisit them in a conclusive manner very briefly.
The political person. Another of those citizens who has the responsibility to not devalue the Political, and in that thought, today more than ever it is asked of us the work of rehabilitating the political [political life or policy]. Because at the hour to lower heads [perhaps a reference to prayer?] a politician is resisted [span: tirarse contra] and that is made widespread against the political, and the political is one of the highest forms of charity, because it points to the common good.
The political vocation is a vocation – here I twist the word a bit, I twist in order to indicate that which is noble – a vocation almost sacred because it is intended to aid the growing of a common good.
The politics of cross-cutting [span. here has trasversalidad which I am assuming is a typo of transversalidad, playing metaphorically on a mathematical concept. If anyone has a better translation please let me know.] I urge that this is the method. Not a method of social atomism, nor of reserved hunting leases. I would say that there is no transversality if there is no dialogue. If there is no confrontation of ideas in searching for the common good, we paralyze ourselves. This is a good path on which to reorient the political and that within the realm [lit. line] of creativity.
I make the remark that the political [exists] not only as a way to manage crises. That can be true momentarily, to get out of a crisis. But not to reduce itself to managing crises; as if we were to say: “Good, now that we have tranquilized the surroundings, we can now rest.”
Creativity, fecundity. That phrase: “The political does not exists to manage crises,” may we write it well within our hearts. Sometimes we have to put out a fire, but the vocation of the politician is not to be a fireman. The political vocation is to create, to fertilize [span: fecundar; there seems to be no intention of metaphor here].
In this state, uniting the political with the social, I would like to note a problem which is bothering me and which can be a temptation to the social crisis. That maintenance carries the State to decline [ignore] it’s responsibility to the promotion of social assistance. It is anti-human to privatize social advancement [span: promoción] and social assistance. On this point, the State has to assume the role of animator, integrator, responsible, auditor, delegator, but it cannot decline those responsibilities which is given to it [the State] by it’s own vocation: to care for the common good of the nation.
I said that this was a sphere of dialogue and of human participation. And it is distinct when one finds oneself through [span: a través de] a writing, an article, or from a distance, or from a bad confrontation, distinct [from] when one finds onself in a respectful [lit: relaxed] environment, knowing that we [each] think distinctly, we have point of view which are distinct but we participate respectfully, humanly, in search of the common good.
The human is like a key in the word of the politico-social, where the human person – every man and every woman – is the central preoccupation, the end of political activity and furthermore the subject of this activity. That is to say, we are going to create this human act if we intergrate ourselves, not as professionals alone but as men and women. Or as is said, to put the meat out on the grill [this metaphor means to do something risky without leaving oneself a way to get out.]
And that, the human – that is the value [think axiological value] – against the anti-value. The anti-value of today, in my opinion, is humans as commodity [lit. goods], or as is said, mercantilism of persons. Men and women become commodities over the projects which come to use from the other side, which commence in socity and which in some way run against our human dignity. That is anti-value; the human person as merchandise [a product] in the politico-economico-social system. And, in regards to this value, the human, and it’s anti-value, the human as commodity, I note two points in [human] life which should be a personal preoccupation:
Children today run the risk, because of poor nutrition, poor or insufficient education, of not being apt enough to intergrate themselves fully into society. It is possible to create a cast of minus-habens. A child who does not receive sufficient vitamins and minerals the first two years of his/her life is going to become mentally-handicapped. For this we must take responsibility and act.
Childhood today is treacherously delayed and depreciated. We rip our garments when we read in the dailies [newspapers] what little is done for enslaved children upon boats. That does not only occur there; this occurs each time there is not a political concern for childhood which regards the human person, at the center of the human person with value. I note this with great worry.
And the other point concerning life: the older adults, the elderly. With these two points in life it is not possible to experiment, nor should we experiment. It must be acted that children grow [in/and have] life so that they can give their rich contribution, to it’s large and full extent to their society. And in the elderly to make grow the wisdom which they have accumulated throughout the length of their life.
This is what it occurred to me to say to you and I thank you again for your participation.
Cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J.,