Pope John Paul II wrote in his papal encyclical Centesimus Annus, “Sacred
Scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbor
and demands of us a shared responsibility for all humanity. This duty
is not limited to one's own family, nation or state, but extends
progressively to all… so no one can consider himself extraneous
or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family.”
(CA no. 52) These words were not only given to the Catholic faithful,
but to all men and women of good will. When we are part of the human family,
our responsibility reaches out to the entire human family and its benefit.
We call this solidarity and it is the foundation in which all Christian
action is rooted.
When Christians call for an end to violence and war, it is because we are conscious through solidarity of the plight of suffering people who are victims. When Christians call for economic justice, fair trade and wages for workers, it is because we are conscious through solidarity of the plight of the poor. When we call for an end to abortion or the death penalty, it is because we are conscious through solidarity of the right that every human being has to life. When we call for chastity and responsibility in human sexual relations, it is because we are conscious through solidarity that our bodies deserve respect from one another. When Christians call for moral standards, scorning the practice of lying, stealing, cheating, hurting, abusing, or killing, it is because we are conscious of the effects these actions have on our brothers and sisters.
Solidarity is the basis of the Christian life. We are family, and that is why we can pray to God as “Our Father.” AD SODALITATEM is inspired by the teaching of the Catholic Church which explicitly states, “Catholic social teaching more than anything else insists that we are one family, it calls us to overcome barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and nationality. We are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28) – beyond our differences and boundaries.” (Communities of Salt and Light, 10)
The challenge for many of us, is that we are not aware of our own family, across the globe, and often across the street. AD SODALITATEM does not have the answer to war or disease, prostitution or drug abuse, lying or adultery. We are not politicians or social workers who have projected answers for particular problems. However, we understand the importance of solidarity in coming to realize the answer to these problems. For this reason, we believe it is vital to promote the Church’s teaching. If we can come to realize our common heritage as created by God, we can begin to act justly, in solidarity with all peoples of the world.
Unfortunately, there is a great sign of disunity in the Church today,
the separation of denominations that have grown in number over the last
several centuries. It is a pain in the Church that we pray will someday
be healed. We do not wish to minimize the important differences that exist
between these Churches by pretending they do not exist. This being said,
AD SODALITATEM literally means “toward solidarity” and we
earnestly pray for the great day when the denominations of churches in
the world will overcome our differences and once again celebrate together
as Christ called us to be. We join Jesus in his prayer found in John 17
in which he asks, “That all may be one.”
We believe, as the Church believes, this great day of reunification will come from dialogue shared between Catholics and members of all Christian denominations. It is for this reason that, although the One Body One Spirit Project will attend 365 Catholic Churches, we welcome denominations that will receive us to visit their church community and share in dialogue and prayer. If we are to reach the unity Christ calls us to, this sharing is important and necessary.
In addition to the unity we are called to share as Christians, AD SODALITATEM also recognizes there is great pain experienced by the use of religion to build hatred and distrust among people. The story of Noah and the Ark reminds us that when God saved Noah, he made a covenant with all people to protect them. Since the covenant with Noah, a uniform understanding of God’s continued revelation has divided the world. As we welcome dialogue and visitations with Christian churches, we also welcome the possibility of visiting the sacred places of other religions as well. Though we disagree on how God has revealed God’s self to the nations, we stand in solidarity with all peoples as created by God and living in his love. May these visitations and dialogues lead us to unity so “that all may be one.”
Links to other websites that promote solidarity
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic Relief Services