Respecting Life: Learning from Pope Francis – by Daniel S. Mulhall

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States seemed to capture the ears, eyes, hearts, and minds of millions of Americans. While one would expect Catholics to pay especially close attention to the Pope’s words, if news reports can be taken at face value, millions of others not of the Catholic faith were also enthralled by the Pope’s message.

I say message, and not messages, for a reason. The Pope’s comments seemed to be centered on one common theme: God made men and women in the divine image. For that reason alone, every person in the world has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Distilled to its essence, the Holy Father’s message was to respect life because it is sacred.

While it is impossible in a short essay to cover all of the Pope’s amazing words from his many talks, a look at his speech to members of the U.S. Senate, Congress, and the Supreme Court provides us with a series of action steps we can take in order to move respecting life to the top of our agendas. Here are a few of Francis’ marching orders:

  1. Defend and preserve the dignity of others, working tirelessly for the good of all, not only for our own private needs and desires.
  2. Care for the needs of all, helping them to grow for the good of society, especially those who are most vulnerable or at the greatest risk.
  3. Base every decision you make on the care of people other than yourself.
  4. Form bonds of unity across groups, forming communities of love wherever possible.
  5. Strive to lead people directly to God, the only thing greater than human dignity.
  6. Protect the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
  7. Engage people in conversation, listening carefully to their hopes and dreams, their sorrows and joys. Create a dialogue to help people grow in God’s love.
  8. Recognize and respect the wisdom and dignity of those who are elderly, and the aspirations and promise of the young.
  9. Look for ways to bring hope and healing to a divided community, a divided world.
  10. Work for justice and peace by restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of all.

Daniel S. Mulhall is a catechist. He is the Director of Strategic Markets for RCL Benziger.

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