Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis Visiting the US

As a Catholic, I LOVE seeing the response to Pope Francis!  Everywhere the guy goes, there are 10,000's of people!  On every street corner, from the top of trump tower, children, adults, the elderly are all there just wanting to catch a glimpse.  Every news agency is following each and every step whether they are Pro/Anti Catholic, whether liberal or conservative.  Whether they agree with this issue or that, everyone is captivated.

Here is the message I heard in much more elegant form that I'm going to break down and simplify...
KEEP IN MIND --- This is what I heard and how I'm translating.  Please read for yourself what the Pope said for your own commentary. 

1.  Creation is sacred - All of creation!  Not just you and me, but everything created has value and dignity and we should protect it.  This includes the environment.  He shared in his address to the UN - that when we destroy creation, it affects those of us in it maybe even to the point that we can't survive.  As he was speaking, I thought about polluted resources that those in adverse situations have to consume making them sick and spreading disease.  He shared how we need to eliminate nuclear weapons, and make a tireless effort to reach out to other countries diplomatically in order to resolve conflict rather than going to war as war destroys human life and the environment. 

2.  Life is sacred - all life!  The unborn, the unwanted, the elderly, the poor, the imprisoned, and every day folks like me and you.  He pleaded to end the death penalty - to give every person the right to make amends and reform from their past.  Sometimes it takes years for one to be rehabilitated and by ending their life, they may not be right with God yet and we limited their time to do so.  He didn't go into great detail, but there were several quick mentions about the care for the unborn.  I think everyone knows the church's stance on abortion, but he made an appoint to mention the care for the life of the unborn.  It's not about removing a woman's rights, but about caring for creation. 

3.  Immigration - Pope Francis shared:  "We see Christians in Africa, Sudan, Syria, the Middle East who are forced to witness destruction of churches, Land and property.  They're forced to either flee or pay the price with their life or enslavement."  He talked about those in South America who are heading north to start a better life for themselves. They shouldn't be seen as immigrants invading our space but people - searching for hope, reaching for their dreams.  Pope Francis said something along the lines of - You were all once immigrants... You have hopes... You have dreams - you don't want anyone stopping you from yours, so why stop that of others?  Do on to others as you want done to you - if our country was under attack, our freedoms were at risk, our children starving - where would we go?  What if no one accepted us? 

4.  The Family- He didn't mention gay marriage, but he did share how the human family is being threatened greater now than ever before.  He shared how the greatest damage is when it is done to children. Abuse, neglect, children raised without fathers or mothers, all forms of parental dysfunction affect children the rest of their life just perpetuating the cycle of dysfunction.  This says something to me - first - that he LOVES all people - including the gay and  transgendered.  He has seen their pain and their struggle and longs for them to find healing and acceptance in society while at the same time, shares his concern for the family unit and how it's being torn apart. 

5.  UNITY - He calls us all to the middle.  NO ONE is comfortable in the middle because it requires each of us to give up something.  The liberals love him for his care for the environment, the poor and immigration.  Conservatives love him for his stance on the life of the unborn and the natural family.  He's asking everyone to sacrifice for the good of all humanity - love doesn't come without sacrifice and I think anyone who has ever been truly loved or has truly loved another, understands what that means.  To love doesn't mean I get everything I want, but I desire the good of the other.  He says this powerful quote to the UN:  "If you fight amongst yourselves, you will be devoured by those outside."  I think this is a call for unity - to find common ground.  This could be applied to all Christian religions who bicker amongst themselves.  I too am guilty of trying to prove why it's better to be Catholic simply because I want to share in the celebration of the Eucharist - the whole substance of Christ.  I long to be in communion with other Christians and yet often see the spinning of our teachings out of context.  What if the whole world came into a universal truth - what would that look like?  Are Catholics willing to move in a way that draws in the other side?  Are protestants willing to come back to the church after choosing to be on the "other side" for so long?  How amazing it would be to bring all of our gifts, all of our Love for Jesus back into one universal faith in Jesus Christ. 

Lets stand together!  Lets be more inviting, more supportive to our enemies and those on the other side of party lines.  Let us stop the bickering between Catholics and Protestants and realize that we're in the same journey together.  Let us be compassionate and understanding asking questions rather than making judgments.  Most important, lets be open to dialog instead calling the other side "women haters" "baby killers" or other terms  that are intended to draw out the opponent with anger and defensiveness.  Let us be open to sharing our story, and more importantly, hearing the stories of others.  We're all on our own, pushing and fighting for our individual rights instead of fighting for the good of the other.  This is a challenge - are you up for it?

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