In 2008 Catholics worldwide will continue to feel the effects of the globalization of the world economy. The trend seems that the far-East and other Asian rim nations are economically beginning to thrive after years of political repression and social stagnation. How does this emergence of the former "Third World" then affect Catholics in the United States and Western Europe? Quite frankly…the development of a far-Eastern global market as the producer and utilizer of global resources makes the world all that much smaller when it comes to issues like human rights, environmental conservation and religious expression. While certain economies are experiencing a boom of activities and there is a marked increase in the quality of life in developing countries, we still as Catholics are presented with moral dilemmas and issues that focus on dealing with the intrinsic dignity of the human person, through all stages of human life. It is often noted that the late John-Paul the Great was an exceptional example for Catholics and indeed all peoples of how faithful Catholics should prepare for their inevitable deaths, however most importantly John Paul was a source of inspiration to all peoples that are mired in the modern consumerism and the effective marginalization that results from loosing the sacred sense of human life and responsibility through love and social actions.
Benedict XVI in Spes Salvi, offers to the modern Church insights of the dangers in store for mankind as a result of globalization, and the diminishing appreciation that is accorded to the essential dignity of the human person. For the most part, expanding consumerism permits things rather than individuals the opportunity to focus as a center point for human activity and aspirations. The real danger in this atmosphere of materialism and consumerism is really the fact that the importance of human "sacredness" is often times overlooked for the pursuit of accomplishments or the disproportionate rise of wealthier individuals at the expense of the common man. Perhaps as Catholics we need to focus most clearly on the message that God calls all mankind to the pursuit of holistic excellence and not just limited peoples and special cultures.
With the advent of emerging technologies and modern communications, actions that used to take days, are now accomplished in minutes, what used to take minutes now happens in seconds and so on. At the heart of this results orientated and accumulation centered society Catholics need to take time and space in their hearts and their lives to cultivate an appreciation of mankind's theological unity as well as mankind's universal call to pursue peace and global harmony. It seems with the disparate balance of the world's natural resources as the center of society's struggle, the gap between those who have and those who have not are increasingly going to widen. Strategic resources such as oil, water and grain are increasingly the manipulative pawns that dictate global preeminence and the situation seems only destined to get worse. How should Catholics view this global epidemic of shrinking resources? In effect, the Church is clearly showing through its global ministry and it's teachings that collectively, Catholics and all religions need to cooperate and participate in a cognitive campaign of conservation and redistribution of precious global resources that are incumbent for the future of the life and existence of all of God's people. This means, greater respect for the global environment, closer cooperation and harmonious relationships between religions and a universal appeal to mankind's common brotherhood and sisterhood with the highest dignity of human life as the supreme focus and goal.
We are after all a Church of "spes", of hope…of future anticipation of the development of the eschatological Kingdom of God. We hope everyday as faithful Catholics…we specifically proclaim in our creed our expectations of the life of the world to come! However, as concerned and global Catholics we need to realize that we are indeed living in a period of time in which God's salvation history…the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is already continuing to transform the world as we live our lives. Perhaps the most important thing for the Catholic of the 21st century is to not only the expectation of future glory, but know and realize that we are indeed living within sacred times…that require our daily prayers, inspirations and social actions to unfold the new Kingdom of God….
Perhaps the globalization movement will encourage the understanding of the world's religions, that we share not only a common humanity, but also a common sense of expectation and anticipation in the hopes and desires for a better human existence. The more I think about the matter, it becomes increasingly clear to me that global terrorism, global disharmony, human suffering and the increase of social and economic poverty are indications that as faithful Catholics we need to work harder, pray more keenly and put our faith into action more effectively if we are to work towards a society of religious, ethnic and political harmony.