Pope Francis has arrived in the United States, and true to his image, he is holding nothing back. Tired of hearing his critics call him “a left, leaning liberal or communist”, Pope Francis fired back: “[To call me left leaning] would be an error of interpretation. . . . I am certain I have never said anything more than what is in the social doctrine of the Church. I follow the Church and in this, I do not think I am wrong.” “It is I who follow the Church … my doctrine on all this … on economic imperialism, is that of the social doctrine of the Church.”
Pope Francis says the Catholic Church should be focused on helping the poor, rather than being focused on marriage and abortion. While in Cuba last week, he stated the following as a warning to capitalistic obsession: “Do not neglect (your brothers and sisters) for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person behind you.”
Recently, he even attacked Catholic churches that fail to care for the poor and take in refugees, but instead attempt to profit from assets they own. “Some religious orders say, ‘No, now that the convent is empty we are going to make a hotel and we can have guests and support ourselves that way, or make money. Well, if that is what you do, then pay taxes! A religious school is tax-exempt because it is religious, but if it is functioning as a hotel, then it should pay taxes just like its neighbor. Otherwise it is not fair business.”
In addition to economic inequality, Pope Francis is stressing the issue of global warming.
Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.
As Christians…we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.
Watch Ring of Fire Co-Founder Robert Kennedy (who met with Pope Francis today) talk about Climate Change with Thom Hartmann
For more on the Pope’s comments, click CBS News Pope Francis draws attention to climate change in remarks at White House, and Catholic Herald Aboard papal plane, Francis defends his teaching on social issues.