Pope Francis Encourages Activism and Condemns Exclusion

In class, we discussed the trend of an increasingly politically conservative attendance in America’s pews. As religious involvement has softened, those who have have remained headstrong in the practice of their official religion are often more conservative, and have a tendency to use the word of God as a justification for their political beliefs on controversial issues such as abortion.

Pope Francis seems to be an exception to this trend. Although the same is not necessarily the case for all Catholic congregations, Francis has consistently spoken against hateful, exclusive rhetoric, and has taken up a more liberal agenda. He has articulated concerns over President’s Trump behavior and platform, and has instead encouraged the world to be loving and accepting of all. Francis has recently released a new letter, which was read at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements in Modesto, California, encouraging people to be activists against populism. He said that the resolution of current and pressing issues in our world is dependent upon “people’s involvement and participation”. He noted that xenophobia is a danger to the success of our society, insinuating that we must hold our institutions accountable for loving behavior and practices.

Although Francis did not directly mention President Trump, his words are clearly motivated by Trump’s agenda. Francis said that we should not condone leaders that rely on “fear, insecurity, quarrels, and even people’s justified indignation, in order to shift the responsibility for all these ills on to a ‘non-neighbor.'” On the day of the inauguration, Francis spoke of Hitler’s strategies of manipulating a crowd, and again in this letter, he is seemingly warning our population to stay smart, active, and true to our values.

Francis has also recently alluded to the events in Standing Rock in regards to the Dakota Access Pipeline, defending a “right to prior and informed consent” as to what happens to one’s land. Francis also has also protested against “social walls” and “false prophets”. By doing this, he has reminded us that Christianity promotes values of peace, love and inclusion to all. Although he is not taking a direct political stand with a named platform, he has vocalized his values and his interpretation of God’s word in order to encourage good will in his following.