(Happy Thanksgiving to all those who live in the United States. If not, happy Thanksgiving anyways! 🙂 We hope you all have had a wonderful day!)
It has been about two months now since the Holy Father visited the United States. The hype surrounding his visit is dying down and the media has moved onto other stories. However, Pope Francis’ message was not meant to only be held onto for the duration of his trip but is something we must continue to reflect upon. With that said, what are the takeaways? Well if we were to talk about everything we can take away from his visit this blog post would be longer than any of you would care to read. So here we are just going to talk about one of them.
When the Pope addressed Congress he discussed a plethora of issues but there was also number of concerns that seem to have not been thoroughly addressed. For example, during his address to congress the word abortion was never used and the topic never directly discussed. Additionally the troubling redefinition of marriage was only briefly touched upon. Does this mean the Pope does not find these issues important? Of course not! It only shows the importance of finding common ground.
Pope Francis illustrated for us the importance of working not on what we disagree on but what brings us together. You will never win hearts and minds if you do not begin by discussing common goals. So instead of discussing divisive issues, upon which minds are set, he focused on issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis, the global arms trade and the dangers of excessive capitalism. Again, not because these are necessarily more important but because they are areas where people from different backgrounds, different political parties, and different beliefs can work together.
You see it is in this working together that we can witness to others and change hearts. To revisit the address to Congress even though he did not speak out against abortion he did speak about the importance of life itself saying:
“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”
It’s in these comments that Pope Francis, instead of admonishing the Congressmen, implicitly invited them to reflect on contradictions in their own values.
In short, an important question to reflect upon following the Papal visit is the manner in which we deal with those of different beliefs. Do we focus only on what is different, or do we grow together through common ground? It’s worth ending with another quote spoken by Pope Francis during his visit:
“In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”
In the same vain, to put it simply, if we want others to listen to us we have to listen to others and if we want others to work with us we have to work with them.