The Pope’s Visit and Right to Speak

September 22nd, 2015 Posted in writing

This week the Pope comes to the United States. According to him, he is coming because he wishes to get to know America and its people through his own experience, not through someone else’s impressions or interpretation. He wants to see with his eyes, listen with his ears and touch with his hands. He also wants to talk about Jesus, the Gospel and what they might mean for America and for the world.

Pope Francis will address the Congress and the United Nations. But at least one lawmaker says he will absent himself from the Pope’s speech before Congress saying that he has no intention of listening to someone who is speaking “outside of his area of competence.” This legislator has decided that the Pope has nothing to say when it comes to matters of freedom, human rights, economics, social issues or science because these aren’t religious things and the Pope ought not speak about non-religious things.

But Jesus taught his followers to beg that God’s Kingdom would come to this earth and that God’s will would be done here and now. And God’s Kingdom comes when people are in right relationships to themselves, others and God, living as God wants, which definitely involves caring for the marginalized and those denied their basic human rights, advocating for the poor and oppressed, insisting on a decent wage that enables people to support themselves and their families.

The Kingdom of God is about “non-religious” things like the dignity of all human beings, the need for fostering peace, even caring for all of nature (read the chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans, verses 19 and following, to see how far salvation extends).

Pope Francis will give a number of speeches and reflections during his time in the United States. He will talk about many things, but he will also communicate without words as he interacts with the poor, the sick, the hungry, the young, the aged or the hopeless. We owe it to ourselves to listen with our eyes as well as our ears. And, to close our ears even before the Pope speaks is, in my opinion, being extraordinarily rude to one who wishes to learn about America and talk about what the Gospel can mean for us today.

  1. One Response to “The Pope’s Visit and Right to Speak”

  2. By Laurel on Oct 16, 2015

    Thank you for these words. It brought a new awareness for me about the homeless men/women I pass on my way to MUHS.

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