Pope Props

As Mark McGinnes said, indeed, the new Pope is a breath of fresh air!

Catholicism has a mixed legacy as you would expect from a church that hopes to be all inclusive, but the recent change in the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) bodes well for the poor and the planet. Pope Francis has made both the poor and the environment real priorities. In the past there have been many priests and entire orders within the RCC that labor for the poor and advocate for the environment. After all it is the poor who suffer the most from climate chaos. Until recently they had only tepid support from the Vatican.

One priest who worked for the poor was Father Oscar Romero. He was performing a Mass when he was gunned down for his opposition to the killing of the poor in El Salvador. Thanks to Pope Francis he is now on the path to well-earned sainthood.

Like Father Romero, the SVD [Society of the Divine Word] and the Jesuits work for the poor and the environment. Catholic means inclusive, and Catholic activism spans the range of philosophy to living on the world’s largest garbage pile.

Some “Christians” only concern themselves with the salvation of the soul and ignore the suffering of the body. At the beginning of two years as a missionary to assist the poor, when I stayed at the Catholic Trade Center, a hub for the Society of the Divine Word, I found social activists working in the shelter of Christian teachings to assist the poor. There is nothing false or tenuous about their interpretation of the gospel. Theirs seems the most literal interpretation. They labor in love of the poorest of the poor but strive to listen, recognize, and reflect back the unrealized potential of the poor, their gifts, talents, and power in community.

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