Pope Francis – Demanding Respect

Sometimes we get down. We see so many injustices in the world and in our own lives, that it is hard to keep hope alive in us. But, then things change. Often when we take little steps to help ourselves, little miracles show up. The universe helps you when you help yourself.

I have often questioned injustices in this country and around the world. I have wondered why countries, institutions, religious organizations, and governments sometimes seem to hurt, rather than help.

However, I believe that if you love your country, if you love what ever you believe in, you fight! You don’t give up. You engage and you exercise your rights in a free, democratic, free speech society and speak up! You use the power of your voice, your vote, and your purchase to let your thoughts be heard. You speak up on the internet, in social media, and in blogs. You vote for those who support you, and you buy from companies and people who authentically care about you and give back to our community. I always tell you, “Power is taken, not given!” So, that means we have to stand up over and over again, choose ourselves, and choose our beliefs. We have to let others know that we are part of this country and we are not afraid to question, to engage in dialogue, to be critical thinkers, and to use the power of our voice, our vote, and our purchase!

There is Always Hope

I have been touched by The Holy Father Pope Francis; his words and his actions. Can you imagine a Latino (who we know can’t speak English well) getting up in front of the United States Congress and speaking in English to all those people, and millions on TV? Can you imagine how afraid he must have been? But he did it anyway, and he managed to touch all of us. We don’t have to agree with everything he says or does, but the power of his conviction demands respect. Don’t you think he worries about being liked, about saying or doing the wrong thing, about representing his organization, the Catholic Church, correctly? Nonetheless, he stands up bravely and as a result he is a solid credible person. He is a role model for all of us, but particularly for Latinos, showing us that it can be done – that we can be brave, that we can stand up, and that we can demand to be heard.

How incredible to see him last week in Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, where I traveled to get a dose of his energy. He was like a wise but powerful “abuelito” speaking up for all immigrants in Spanish and in English, making us feel loved and embraced. How did this humble person from Argentina get propelled into a world forum as the Latino spiritual thought leader at a time when we really needed him? It’s miraculous, and yet when you read his biography you can see that he has been preparing for this role his whole life, and now we have someone who speaks up for us.

Sometimes we are working in our own small worlds and we don’t know, or can’t comprehend, that our mission is outside of our own little community. A bigger challenge awaits us when we are ready and will be called upon. We will be afraid, but we will have to embrace the challenge of going further, of participating in a bigger arena where we can bring the village with us and take ourselves, and them, to a higher place. That is why I tell you that we cannot marginalize ourselves. We need to include ourselves in the greater collective. Pope Francis is doing just that – he is authentically Latino while being global, taking us and our message with him on his journey, and all the while showing us the way.

Pope Francis always ends his speeches by saying, “Please don’t forget to pray for me, and if you are not Catholic, send me good wishes”. Holy Father, we will.

Pope Francis addresses Joint Session of Congress, September 24, 2015. Watch the video

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Pope Francis:

On democracy and the rights of immigrants:
“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.”

On immigration:
“On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).”

On entrepreneurship:
“Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”

On each other:
“You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”

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