Editorials

Pope’s Dignified Words

This past week was a major one for Pope Francis. To say that he was the focus in the news would be an understatement. His visit to Mexico was historical; his stop in Cuba was ground- breaking; and his comments on the airplane back, as well as his last Sunday’s Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square proved, once again, why he is the most important thinker in the world today.

In his meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, which took place at the Jose Marti Airport, the pope was able, in a gentle way, to solidify the bonds that exist with our sister Church. It is important to recall that Patriarch Kirill is not the leader of Orthodox Christianity. That title belongs to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is based in Constantinople and has met with Pope Francis. However, Patriarch Kirill leads the biggest branch of Orthodoxy.

Pope Francis stated: “We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world.”

What brings Catholicism and Orthodoxy together, in addition to the validity of their sacraments, is the persecution of Christians around the world. This true ecumenism is a model that can be followed for future dialogue with other ecclesial communions.

Later in the week, the pope was able to concretely address the problems faced by the Mexican people, and specifically addressed the issue of the criminal drug lords who have established themselves as quasi-kings. And yes, it is necessary to address the pope’s in-flight press conference on Feb. 18. A journalist asked the pope: “Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etc.”

And indeed, the pope did respond, saying, “As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.”

That, in turn, led to a flurry of tweets back and forth from Trump and the whole world weighing in on the issue. Pope Francis emphasized that he would not get involved in the question of for whom someone should vote: “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

To look at it objectively, the pope did not weigh in on Trump personally or his candidacy; he did not make a political statement. A voice of clarity comes from Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez who said on Feb. 19: “That’s what the pope was saying – that immigration is about people, not economics or politics. It’s about children and families who are suffering…The pope was obviously deeply moved by the human tragedy of millions of people suffering from the corruption of leaders, criminal gangs, human trafficking, violence and poverty, economic injustice…That’s what the pope is thinking about – not our election debates or candidates.”

And that’s what it’s all about really; that’s what the pope was really speaking about: the dignity of the human person, created in the image and the likeness of God Himself. Whether it was the Holy Father’s strongly worded comments against the horror of abortion or in his comments on the Zika virus or even in his Angelus address, calling for a worldwide abolition of the death penalty. He’s focused on the dignity of the human person. In the midst of all these debates, let’s not forget this.

 

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