The Pope delivered a message and was a prime example of humility to the Congress. Most of us were moved by his messages that pointed out we are each single human beings with responsibilities to find our highest values and act on them. All of the members of Congress could not help but put aside political considerations and seek a path to work together on the very special issues we are all facing. It is gratifying to see the Pope use his platform to highlight the worldwide dilemmas we face. As a human being, he is truly deserving of our admiration.
The humility he displayed was underscored by how he spent his time. His decision was that he would not spend his lunchtime with our legislators but rather have lunch with a group of homeless people served by a Catholic charity. This choice exemplified his priorities.
He stressed that as individuals we must protect other humans from adversity (or take care of people and realize what they are going through) whether they are refugees from Syria, Mexico or anywhere. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with the challenges they face. He changed subjects and stated we must protect the environment as the final shepherds of our planet’s wellbeing (or we must pool our collective efforts to deal with global warming).
While there are some areas that are still ripe for disagreement, the messages he gave were general enough to be inclusive of most of us. As an example he asked each of us to respect the sanctity of life, to protect life at every stage of its development. His remarks about the abolishment of the death penalty were consistent with his admonishment to respect the sanctity of life.
His remarks were also interpreted by some as a reference to abortion. Whether you are a supporter of a woman’s right to choose or believe that life begins at conception, his point was broad enough to include most of us.
He reminded people to reject their tendency to paint all peoples, including those who have our adversaries in their ranks, with a common brush. We must not extend our dislike of individual actions to an entire population (we should not blame all in a group, for instance Muslims or arms traders, for the violent or illegal actions of a few within that group). We should love all peoples irrespective of members within these groups whose actions we don’t support.
He reminded us to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world. He restated that we must become our brother’s keepers who truly care about the well being of all others no matter where they exist in the world.
His references to great examples of faith included Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) and Thomas Merton (an American Cistercian monk). These were pious Americans who lived the essence of these beliefs. We also appreciated his reminder for us of the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt: 712).
No matter who you are or which belief system you accept, his statements resonate at a very personal level as a single human being concerned about the future. He picked issues of concern to all of us to include in his statements. We all hope that the warm glow of his remarks continues beyond the time of his departure.
There are so many things that we, each of us, must do. Ours is a time for reflection where each of us must ask ourselves what are we doing to further these beliefs or solve humanity’s problems. We have a common cause with Catholic beliefs to act consistent with our highest values in how we conduct ourselves and which issues we support and to which we dedicate our lives.
Use the attached link to access the Pope’s message to Congress. The link accesses the text of the Pope’s speech.