Here’s my news prediction for 2018: The two dominant figures of 2017 will remain popular and each will gain ground in terms of achievement.
I’m talking about Pope Francis and President Donald Trump. I’m talking big strides for each over the next 12 months.
The pope and the president, each of whom has his detractors, have touched the masses in unique ways. They may seem like an odd couple because the differences between the two are pronounced and receive a lot of attention. But each in his own way has shaken the status quo and begun to steer his respective institution in a new direction.
Pope Francis has been working at reforming the Curia in unprecedented ways since he was chosen to lead the Church. He also has unleashed a new pastoral preference for tolerance and acceptance within the Church, especially with the publication of his papal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.” Instead of preaching the law to sinners – that’s all of us – he has emphasized mercy and the love of God for His creation. Instead of referring to tomes and pomp, he has taken to walking among the people. He is all about the human experience and closeness to the base of the Church.
President Trump has heard the cry of the American people and has shifted the ship of state to more traditional values and respect for individual freedoms. He believes in the inherent value of work and the right of individuals to have a say in how their resources are used. He believes power resides in individual households rather than in the White House and Capitol Hill.
Each newsmaker – pope and president – believes that every person has the right to self determination and personal dignity. Each wants individuals to be free while protecting the common good. How to get there is where these two strong personalities differ. But it’s not their differences that we should emphasize but rather look for the points where they intersect.
The two men have touched the times because people were beginning to feel like they had been swallowed up by institutions and demagogues and had little to say about their own futures.
Human beings are meant to be free and they will seek out that freedom as they walk through their own lives. They do not want to be controlled by abusive rules and overbearing laws and so they are responding positively when their leaders unleash their ability to chart their own courses.
The challenge for the future will be to recognize the similarities in what the pope and the president are saying. They both are speaking about the beauty of God’s creation, even if they differ on ways to achieve it. They each must show how their protection of the human person also leads to the common good.
The secular media and the comfortable establishment will continue to emphasize differences, but they will continue to erode their own credibility because they are so out of touch with their constituencies.
I see 2018 as a year of contention of contrasting ideas but I believe the pope and the president have the upper hand and will further their agendas as the year progresses.