New Year’s resolutions: The Pope Francis list, continued…
5. Meet the poor ‘in the flesh.’
Sure, we donate to charity. But this is not enough for Francis. Commitment to the poor, he says, must be “person to person, in the flesh.” Known as pro-poor even when he was archbishop, he explains more in the book On Heaven and Earth, which was published 3 years before he became pontiff. “It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from our establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited.” He calls for long-term commitment. “Hospitality in itself isn’t enough. It’s not enough to give a sandwich if it isn’t accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn’t enough.”
6. Stop judging others.
In the same way he denounces gossip, Francis condemns prejudice. He reminds “intolerant” Catholics, for one, to respect atheists. “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.” He also says of gays: “If
someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” Francis urges us “to keep watch over ourselves.” “Let us not forget that hatred, envy, and pride defile our lives!”
7. Befriend those who disagree.
What can we do to our worst critics? We can take our cue from Francis. In November, Francis surprises Mario Palmaro, a traditionalist who wrote the article, ‘The Reason Why We Don’t Like This Pope.’” “He just wanted to tell me that he is praying for me,” says HYPERLINK “http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-calls-a-traditionalist-writer-who-criticized-him/” Palmaro,who is gravely ill, in an article by the Catholic News Agency. Francis does this in line with what he calls a “culture of encounter.”
He says in July: “When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice.”