Pope Francis' agenda has become more defined: the poor, the marginalized and world peace top the list. As for any resolution in these areas, care for the unfortunate has always been one of the stronger guiding forces behind the churches' actions.
One awaited statement by the Pope about priests' misdeeds has been realized; victimization of children was not acceptable. Pope Francis did make that known by his public apology to the families who had been egregiously hurt by molestation. This year, Pope Francis showed leadership and courage to speak about this injustice during Lent, a time of reconciliation.
Along with this, in the midst of the church's holiest of seasons, Easter with Good Friday and Palm Sunday comes another tradition that is so equally endowed with enlightenment. The upgrading of Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter) has been creeping into the general liturgical celebration of Easter for over a decade. This emphasis of mercy has to be a joyous moment that spells forgiveness for all despite sin burden.
Then, what could be more exciting when Divine Mercy Sunday is coupled with the canonization of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII on April 27. Joy has been fleeting for the longest time with scandal. Having both of these esteemed popes canonized after Easter Sunday brings out an attitude of bliss for the Catholic faith and the world community, too.
Pope Francis has promoted the spirit of the Jesuits into the forefront of the emerging welcoming, open and more likely the "holy" universal church. Some quotes from the Pope:
"The perfect family does not exist .. nor a perfect husband or wife. ... It's just us sinners" (Feb. 14).
"Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person. ... But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness, and even poisons us." (Angelus, Feb. 16).
Again, this all resounds with reconciliation and forgiveness. One of the last acts/words that were repeated had to do with these two concepts. One of Jesus' last breaths recognized that even in dire moments, anyone's final hour can bring hope of forgiveness and everlasting life despite a life filled with poor/negative choices.
Pope Francis brings relevancy into the mix of his papacy. Unwilling to hitch his duty function to controversial issues exclusively, he has broadened the scope of God's love for all His people, God's promise to forgive, truth will set His children free and "heal the broken hearted" does make people more hopeful in today's challenging times.
In the Houston "Catholic Worker", publication of Casa Juan Diego House of Hospitality, Mark and Louise Zwick comment on this Biblical passage: "Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor." That directive would be very hard to do in light of current times. Many people feel that they are poor/not well off, therefore, this message does not pertain to them. And yet, how poor can people be, if you have shelter, food, love and security?
Insecure times have been problematic for too many countries; kidnapping of young school girls, sexual abuse of females in India plus human trafficking, ethnic cleansing, jailing of the poor, and significant policing/profiling of people to insure safety, just to name the more obvious.
Pope Francis emphasizes a call of: relief from persecution and peace to God's people. God's children warrant unconditional love, freedom from fear and taking care of one another. Relying on other forces does not cover much that makes for a happy, vibrant person that can use God's gift of free-will. In Pope John XXIII ("Peace on Earth" encyclical 1963), John longed for peace and strongly urged to heed his message to protect and promote human dignity and rights.
As Pope Francis models the peacemaker with his recent tour with a Muslim and Jew in the Middle East, how can anyone not understand that talking with one another does not bring about understanding and peace? Let's talk about truth, justice and well-being for all. Continuation of constant conflicts for power, profit and human degradation can only spell the demise for all in this world ... so "peace, be with you" and pass it on.
Jeanne Polisoto is a Forestville resident.