Charles Taylor: We Need To Reactivate Our Sense of Solidarity

Here are some quotes from a terrific new interview with the philosopher Charles Taylor in the NC Register:

  • I think in Benedict’s case, he was really one of those people who fully took on board the importance of Vatican II, and the freedom and the importance of our recognizing that we’re responsible for our faith and history, and that’s the standpoint from which we have to live the faith.
  • As for Pope Francis, he has gone a step further in his including that in his whole manner of acting, his whole stance to the gospel, which is reaching out, and not concerned above all about the prestige and not concerned above all about what people think of the Catholic Church, but acting out the Gospel by reaching out to people in need, and to causes in need like global warming and so on.
  • In the West, what we have is an immense growth in the number of people who are searching, who feel a real sense of spiritual need, though they wouldn’t define it by that term….And the opportunity is immense because there is a tremendous wealth of different spiritualities. We have in the Christian tradition and in particular in the Catholic tradition an immense wealth, if you look back at St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross or Mary of the Incarnation in Quebec and so on. We have to put together this immense richness for these young people who are searching for this spiritual path, and that is a tremendous opportunity which is really being acted on in places like Taizé, but was not always being acted on by the Church at the parochial level for instance.
  • I would say that the really big need we see in many Western societies today is for a sense of solidarity. We have drifted into an epoch in which there has been a floating towards individualism, in which people think they are on their own, that they have earned whatever they have managed to achieve and they don’t owe anything to anyone else, and that the very efficient economy will somehow take care of things if they just somehow leave it to the market. These are all very dangerous illusions and somehow we need to reactivate a sense of our solidarity, solidarity with our fellow citizens, and solidarity with the whole of humanity, and a solidarity that goes beyond that, with the planet, which I think has been brilliantly presented by Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical on the care of creation, Laudato Si.
  • Christianity in order to be a solution has to return to the original impulse of the Gospel. All of that nitpicking about this or that rule and about your sexual behavior, which is a way of making people miss the point of the Gospel, and it’s getting back to that which I think is so wonderful in the pontificate of Francis.
  • Now it will also be the case that people will come from different ethical and spiritual traditions, but they surely can come to some agreement on the basic principles of a modern democratic free egalitarian republic that respects everyone’s spiritual path.
  • I see no opposition between universalism and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a form of saying that if you are different from us, you are not excluded from being a citizen. That is true universalism.
  • Well, I do not see how Christianity can be weakened if people really behave like Christians are supposed to behave — if there were more people like Francis. In our Church we would not be losing ground at all, on the contrary. And you can see the response to the Pope by people who weren’t Christians at all; it is tremendously positive. He is making the faith appear in a very strong and positive light. So that’s what makes the difference between the faith being strong and the faith being weak.
  • We should be out there seeing that people’s needs are met, we should be thinking seriously about rearranging our cities in order to help people that are lost, desperate or having a crisis, all sorts of interventions we should have for them. And a lot of Christians are acting this way.