Gamaliel leaders reflect on Pope Francis visit

Posted by: Gordon on 10/1/2015
Capitol Building crowd listen to Pope Francis
Leaders from Asamblea de Derechos Civiles and Rev. Willie Brisco were in Washington, D.C. to hear Pope Francis speak last week, and Asamblea leaders traveled on to hear the Pope speak on immigration in Philadelphia. Below are reflections from them and from other leaders across the Gamaliel network, on the impact of Pope Francis' statements and what we can takeaway from his trip for our own work. (Photo by Walda Lanza of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles)

Pope Francis spoke for us and to us

We connected to Pope Francis at every message we heard him deliver during his week in the U.S., both in Congress and at the immigration speech in Philadelphia.

For example, when he spoke to Congress, he recalled the names of civil rights leaders and movements—exactly what I and the other Asamblea leaders talked about while visiting the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial the night before.

Every sentence was just what we were waiting for someone like the Pope to say. I did not have to have a one-to-one with the Pope to feel that he was talking about our struggles for justice to me personally.

--Pablo Tapia, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles

After visit, I want to be found not just worthy, but working
I must admit: I underestimated the historical affirmation Pope Francis' visit represented.

On issues from human rights, immigration, race, and worker rights, to the role of government in the best interest of all people, I am in awe of the impact of his visit and the privilege I had to be the guest of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to hear the pope’s address to Congress.

I expected Pope Francis to make people think twice about the equity issues that continue to haunt us and why in this day and age the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. I did not expect to be inspired by a message that was both so complex and so simple.

Pope Francis’s speech was complex in some of its social overtones, such as using the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Yet it was also simplistic in invoking of the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The most valuable takeaway for me was Pope Francis’ challenge to do more together, which affirmed the work of MICAH, Wisdom and Gamaliel. For me personally, the message affirmed that not only do I want to be found worthy when Christ returns; I also want to be found working.

-- Rev. Willie Brisco

Other comments and reflections from Gamaliel leaders: 

By quoting the golden rule, the Pope underscored the central dictum of all religions and faith traditions. Directing it at the U.S. Congress and their responsibilities was huge.

-- Father Joseph Mattern

I was thrilled to hear Pope Francis indicate that we should be happy with our differences and celebrate them. We are all of the same spirit, but we don't have to be identical. This was part of his message at the 9/11 memorial. The beauty of Pope Francis sharing the stage with leaders of all other religions moved me tremendously. After they had all spoken, he embraced each one warmly telling me that this was the way we should all be - embracing our diversity, accepting each others' ideas and beliefs, and loving each other for who we are.

-- Tamerin Hayward

Sometimes people joke that it will take a miracle for my dear neighbors to achieve a path to citizenship.  But throughout our journey to D.C. and Philadelphia, I was constantly reminded of the miracles we've seen in this relentless struggle. Fear is losing its hold despite every attack the system throws our way. We will never give up.  We are never going away. Our voices are sacred, and we will win!

--Ned Moore, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles

In his speech to Congress, [Pope Francis] used the words "inclusive" and "compassion" more times in 20 minutes than they have been used in that room in 20 years.

--Ray DeCarlo

During his five-day visit to the US last week, Pope Francis urged a humane response to migration from Central America and war-wracked countries such as Syria. What I took away from that was the need to prioritize and not be discouraged by obstacles to bring justice for persons stuck in fear and uncertaint. In Wisconsin this means to continue to push hard for "Driver Card" legislation and build from there.

-- Ron Alexander

Maybe more than any statements Papa Francisco made, his way of interacting and just "being" was most powerful to me. He presented himself as one member of humanity, a simple man talking about big problems that are facing the world, in a spirit of wanting to do something but not having all the answers. I take away from this that I should be reaching out to all in my community to work together in whatever way we can to improve our city, our state, our nation and our common home: the earth. And that priority should be given to the poor in everything we do.

Before political ideology, before social status, before economic status, we should reach out to each other as brothers and sisters who are all part of a family, the human family.

-- Deacon Greg Petro

To post a comment, you must be a registered user.

  |  Login

Tag Cloud