Column: A Pope for the people

An unidentified child, who was carried out from the crowd to meet Pope Francis, reaches out to touch the Pontiff's face during a parade on his way to celebrate Sunday Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Sunday, Sept. 27 marks the final day of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Over the course of the last six days, he has struck a chord with a multitude of people from all backgrounds for his clear motives to improve the lives of the underprivileged and displaying how to truly be a leader for the people. In a speech he made to Congress, he highlighted that the chief aim of all politics should be to defend and preserve the dignity of a country’s citizens in the “tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”

During this increasingly politically heated period in our country, it is extremely admirable that this world’s humblest leader touches our ground and completely contradicts the current actions of presidential candidates, showing them what power can do and how to strive for improving a country’s quality of life. 

After the pope’s meeting with Congress on Thursday, skipping lunch with the political leaders in Washington D.C., he went to bless a meal and feed hundreds of homeless with Catholic Charities of the city. He spoke about how the lack of adequate shelter for the homeless is inexcusable, and highlighted the need for communities to show solidarity with each other.

At his appearance in Philadelphia on Friday, he did not delve into a political debate about lack of housing, health programs, and workers’ rights, but rather made unscripted remarks about family and love, and how without laws protecting families’ basic needs, a society is unhealthy. The legislation of this country falls outside the jurisdiction of the pope, and any attempt to inspire the will for meaningful change weakens if it is addressed directly. Alternatively, the pope chose to speak to the morals of the people rather than the policies of the government.

While Donald Trump calls immigrants “rapists,” and speaks of building a wall along the Mexican border, the pope embraces immigrants and says that they bring gifts that can help renew the United States, and that cultural diversity is something to be proud of rather than ashamed. After all, at one point everyone in this country was an immigrant. He detested religious discrimination and asked Christians to welcome people of all religions because it is important to have respect for all humans. 

There are people who will question the credibility of a man who comes into an institution that presides over one of the most blasphemous events of the postwar era – the sexual abuse of young people by Catholic priests. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia was accused of keeping more than three-dozen priests that were facing serious allegations of child abuse. With the pope’s words, he carries the burden of restoring the image of the Catholic Church and righting the wrongs of those who made the same vow he did in becoming one with the Church.

This Sunday he met with sexual abuse victims in Philadelphia and vowed to prosecute the American bishops who covered up the actions of priests rather than reporting it to the police in a new Vatican tribunal that will be held in the future. Pope Francis has undoubtedly demonstrated that he is not only a man of the church, but of the people. Although he cannot make up for the horrible offenses done to innocent children by these priests, he can help the victims heal and punish those who made them suffer.  

The pope’s visit has brought together people from all walks of life, hopefully igniting a fire to strengthen this country and help create cohesion among all cultures. 

It is refreshing to see the views on political issues from a man who seeks justice for all humans, without any ulterior selfish motives. All of those in Washington need to take a hard look at this man’s selfless character and ambitions in order to create meaningful change for this country.


Aly McTague is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at alyvia.mctague@uconn.edu.