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Conclusion: A Source of Meaning and Hope • 501

The Church is a community of human beings who are still subject

to sin, and so it is with humility that she offers herself as the meeting

place with the living God. Her existence for two thousand years dem-

onstrates the unceasing mercy and love of God in maintaining her in

his grace as a faithful and repentant people. In a world of passing fads

and transitory ambitions, she offers the substance of the wisdom of the

Gospel and her growing understanding of it through two millennia. She

offers the possibility of enriching the present moment with the gifts of a

tradition rooted in God’s self-revelation and with the hope and meaning

for human life that come from God himself. In a world torn by war and

injustice, she celebrates the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the

gift of himself made eternally present and effective, to make all peoples

one with him as head of a reconciled and healed community. In a world

of violence against human life, the Church mightily defends life by her

works of justice and charity as well as by her advocacy for the protection

of all human life.

Of her very nature, the Church is missionary. This means her mem-

bers are called by God to bring the Gospel by word and deed to all

peoples and to every situation of work, education, culture, and com-

munal life in which human beings find themselves. The members of

the Church seek to transform society not by power but by persuasion

and by example. Through participation in political life—either as vot-

ers or as holders of public office—they work for increasing conformity

of public policy to the law of God as known by human reason and

Divine Revelation. This they do especially by showing the coherence of

Catholic teaching with the fundamental yearnings and dignity of the

human person.

From its foundation, the United States has maintained the freedom

of its citizens to worship according to their consciences and has prohib-

ited infringement upon religious freedom by the government. For some,

this leads to the conclusion that religion is a purely private matter and

should not exercise a public voice in debates about moral issues. That

was not the intention of the founders of this nation. Catholics must

participate in political life and bring to bear upon it—by their voice and

their vote—what they have learned about human nature, human destiny,