“No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!”

Photo: Twitter @Pontifex

Pope Francis, a man known for putting aside prepared statements in favor of informal Q&A, did just that on April 30 when he met in Rome with members of two Catholic groups. (See coverage at Zenit and Catholic News Service.) Talk turned to the challenge of bringing faith in Christ to the arena of public policy. From the CNS coverage of the event:

Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be “dirty,” frustrating and fraught with failure, Pope Francis said. Given today’s “throwaway” culture and so many problems unfolding in the world, “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

Coverage of the same event by Carol Glatz for NCROnline:

One man asked how to keep strong the link between faith in Jesus and the responsibility of building a more just and caring world.

Christians have a duty to work for the common good in the world of politics, the pope said, adding that that does not mean forming a Catholic political party.

“That is not the way. The church is the community of Christians who adore the Father, follow the way of the Son and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not a political party,” he said.

However, individual Catholics must get involved and “embroiled” in politics, he said, because it is one of the “highest forms of charity” since it seeks the common good.

…”When you ask me these questions, the danger — danger for the pope, too, you know — is believing that I can answer all your questions. The only one who can answer every question is the Lord. My job is simply to listen and say what comes to me from within. But [it is] insufficient and too little,” he said.

Not an ex cathedra pronouncement, to be sure. Still, “you can’t watch from the balcony” strikes a chord.