At the UN, the Pope linked misuse of environment to “process of exclusion” of weak and the disadvantaged. He called it part of our “growing culture of waste,” a situation of “exclusion and inequality” with “baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labor, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism, and international organized crime.”
Of course, directed at world leaders who give in to greedy corporate development initiatives.
But Pope made me feel guilty for being an infrequent recycler and a non-composter.
Appealed to leaders to “ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.”
To do that, people must be allowed to be “dignified agents of their own destiny.” Education. For girls too, he said. And at absolute minimum, social development to support a family required “lodging, labor, and land; and one spiritual name, spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights.”
And he linked it all back, to the ecological crisis which can threaten the human species.
Complex speech because of multiple audiences of varying means.
But the church isn’t t called catholic for nothing. The pope is delivering a universal message, that correcting the world’s ills is going to take real action, and not just prayer.
But imagine what would happen if he really went radical and suggested that the women he thanked could be seen as equals to ordained priests?
Maybe he’s saving that for his second trip to America.
I’m still getting over the Pope’s Congressional speech and his reference to Dorothy Day of the Catholic worker movement, and Thomas Merton.
It indicates he’s serious about social justice by holding up Day as an example. And that he’s also hoping for more the openness and dialogue by pointing to Merton.
And delivering it all is the Pope in his soft spoken voice, alluring to all. There’s no “capitalism is the dung of the devil” rhetoric like he used in South America. But the message in the U.S. is both critical and loving at the same time.
Like a good, grandfatherly pastor. We sit back and listen with respect. And take it all to heart. And maybe going forward, we act.
The pope’s view of America after speaking to Congress.
While he spoke specifically on topics like economic inequality, the environment, prison reform, and the military, there was something more general that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, of whatever faith, should be able to agree on.
Pope Francis: “You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you…”
“Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.”
Moved by the pope as I live tweeted.
Francis mentioned four American icons: Lincoln, MLK, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
Congress cheered the first two–but seemed in the dark about the two Catholics mentioned. Day was a legendary journalist and activist for the poor. A lay person who is now being considered for sainthood, Day fought for social justice issues in a completely self-less way. In many ways, Francis in his ways, is much like Day. Merton was a Trappist monk who encouraged openness, dialogue. And that was the hopeful idea of Francis to Congress–that there is a way out of the divisive, polarizing politics of the day, that could lead us to a consensus for the common good.
Rep. Ted Lieu of California described the room as electric when the pope was introduced. Lieu, a climate change activist, was encouraged by the support the pope’s urging that something must be done to protect the earth, “our common home.”
Read my story on NBC News.com