Oct 1, 2015
At a time when there is much antagonism, polarization, pain, and inequity in the world, at a time when socially responsible leadership at all levels of society is lacking and there are "unrestrained ambitions and collective forms of selfishness," the visit of Pope Francis to the United States is a breath of fresh air. His touch is a light shining in darkness; his voice echoes with compassion, love, and wisdom.
Pope Francis' several speeches-especially in front of a joint session of the U.S. Congress, the United Nations General Assembly, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia-spell nothing short of a treatise on human politics. As head of the Holy See and of Vatican City State, he shifts the focus from the value of power to the power of values, thus enabling the humanization of politics, not the politicization of humanity.
Pope Francis' ideas, anchored in Catholic social teaching, have universal relevance. Each human being embodies "transcendent dignity" and is entitled to basic freedoms-religious, intellectual, and individual. Paramount is "peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity and rights of others," and the adherents of the various religions and others are urged to embody them and promote them.
For Pope Francis, the main goal of political activity is not to become all powerful or to aggrandize but to "serve and promote the good of the human person and be based in respect for his or her dignity." Each citizen and public official has "a mission" and "a personal and social responsibility." When addressing America's Hispanic population in Philadelphia, for example, Pope Francis called upon them "to be responsible citizens and to contribute, like others, with so much resilience before you-to contribute fruitfully to the life of the communities in which you live."