Now in his third full day of this pastoral visit to the United States, our Holy Father is hitting all the right notes in his various homilies and addresses. He is not only the Chief Shepherd of the Church, but a beautiful presence of the Good Shepherd.
If there was any doubt about this Pope’s orthodoxy, he is expressing his clear fidelity and support of the long-standing teaching of the Church regarding life. In his address to Congress yesterday, he called for an end to the death penalty, strongly defended the sanctity of all life, including the unborn, and spoke clearly about the dignity of every human person. The dignity of the family also received some focus, as well as acknowledging the current threats to the family. He challenged the President in his morning visit to the White House to respect religious liberty as a foundation of a healthy society.
While championing the social doctrine of the Church, he also is modeling his own instruction to the bishops to avoid harsh and divisive language, and allow the lure of love to win the day. As a Pastor, he is modeling for us how to hit the right notes with the beauty of his ‘symphony’ of instruction and ‘encounter’ versus the less fruitful approach of a constant ‘drum corp.’ which can be solely focused on the culture wars.
At the same time, he continues to be a voice for the poor and immigrants. He challenges all of us to ‘go out of ourselves’ in service of one another; to work not only for peace, but in peace, not only for justice, but in a spirit of justice with one another. He has reminded us that we all have our role to play, but our true source of strength comes from the power of the Gospel, and our willingness to completely give our self away in the service of God’s holy, faithful people.
We are first to live in intimate union with Christ, who is the core of everything, and the One source of unity. Then, having committed ourselves to him, we are to build a culture of encounter by our willingness to be among God’s people. We are to promote and enter into dialogue with others in order to better understand them and their needs.
As another example of his ‘orchestrating’ this culture of encounter in order to build a society concerned with the common good, we now await his address to the UN today. Still to come, no doubt his support for marriage and family will be at the heart of his words while attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.