With the support of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Academy of Catholic Leaders aims to train people to assume political responsibilities anf fight political corrption in Latin America.
The year 2023 has marked a significant impact on the future of Latin American politics. The electoral calendar included general elections in Paraguay, Argentina and Guatemala, as well as legislative elections in Chile and Peru. In democratic countries, elections have major implications for the economy, security, social justice, and human rights of citizens. However, in many parts of the world, Christians avoid involvement in politics and are reluctant to engage politically and economically in society.
According to Jose Antonio Rosas, director-general of the Academy of Catholic Leaders, there is a misunderstanding of the Faith among many Catholics who tend to withdraw from the world because they see it as a source of problems and unsolvable challenges. This is, however, a matter of faith, he explained, during a visit to the headquarters of ACN.
“The idea that politics corrupts, has led to a situation where even countries with a high number of Catholics, such as in the American continent, are bereft of politicians who can reflect Christian values.”
“Of course, politics does sometimes corrupt, but that is why we need committed politicians, with a Christian sense of responsibility. If we want results we have to play, we have to get in the game”, says Rosas.
Nonetheless, says the 47-year-old Mexican, a good Christian needs to be a good citizen, and politics is the ideal tool to help further the common good of the whole community.
The challenge of the scarcity of Christian leaders
According to the director of the Academy, Latin America faces a number of problems. The many demonstrations held throughout the region reflect a deeper social crisis. Nonetheless, Christian leaders are few and far between. Rosas regrets this absence and points out that politicians of a more atheistic persuasion are often more successful during these social revolutions, which end up developing into anarchy.
The Academy of Catholic Leaders is trying to change this lack of commitment, by training people committed to Christian values and who are capable of having a positive influence on society. “Only with an active participation in politics can we achieve positive change in society”, he stresses.
Prayer and compassion as keys to political commitment
Training in Catholic Social Doctrine is crucial for Catholic leaders. Rosas stresses that this training is not limited to studying theory, but implies forming consciences, to turn people into Good Samaritans. “Manuals can be very useful tools, but you need compassion in the face of human suffering” says Rosas. This, in his opinion, is the key to change.
The Academy of Catholic Leaders tries to stress the consequences of having a personal relationship with Jesus, without imposing an ideology or a specific moral code: “Lay Catholics have to commit to politics with a strength that can only come from prayer. Only then will they be able to face the sacrifice of leaving their comfort zones, of giving their life for an ideal, for faith, without that faith being lost”, says Rosas. He adds, however, that because politics can lead to isolation, it is crucial to have the support of a community, to avoid being manipulated.
Rosas says he is grateful to ACN for the support it has given this project, more specifically by helping 12 training schools with the basic program: “This training is especially relevant for those who live in remote and peripheral areas, where we are trying to foster social involvement. Thanks to the Academy, many people have decided to enter politics and contribute to the greater good of the community.”