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The pope and the golden rule

pope francis 2Pope Francis is in America! Alleluia!

Of course, what he has to say doesn’t sit well with everyone. Someone over at Fox has already decried him as a “false prophet,” because Francis chooses to talk about stewardship of the earth and refuses to withhold forgiveness to those whom a certain segment of inflexible Pharisees think ought to be punished for life. (Hint: The “guilty” are all women. And I put that word in quotes because who am I to judge?) Others, on the most liberal end, complain that Francis doesn’t say enough — about women in the Church, about abuse of children by priests. Poor Francis. The guy can’t win.

And yet he has won, by choosing his topics and sticking to them tenaciously. He cannot be everything to everyone, and he knows this. So he looks to Christ and chooses two places where we humans consistently fall down: In care of the poor and in care of our planet. In both cases, we allow greed to supersede the greater good. And, as anyone who listened to the Pope’s speech to Congress knows, Pope Francis stands for the greater good.

He also stands for the Golden Rule. “This Rule points us in a clear direction,” said Francis in his Congressional speech. “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.”

What does all this mean? It’s simple. If the United States were in terrible turmoil, was a place in which you could not make a living, a place where you were in daily danger of being killed by the government, how would you want the people of other countries to receive you?

If you were chosen as guardian of something that needed to endure for countless generations to come, how would you treat that thing? Would you exploit it for a quick buck now, or treat it with gentleness and care?

If you were a sinner — and we all are — would you want forgiveness? Is there anything that God cannot forgive?

What Francis speaks is Christ-centered, Gospel-centered common sense. Let us rejoice that we have a Pope who speaks for the poor, who challenges those in power, who will not be shut up by nay-sayers who call him a false prophet.

Because that’s just what they said about Jesus.

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Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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5 Comments

  1. Stephen on September 25, 2015 at 6:34 am

    I couldn’t agree more. How quickly the Pharisees go from asserting the absolute authority and infallibility of every utterance and written word the Pope when he seems to support their ideology to dismissive condemnation of him when he doesn’t. May God bless and protect good Pope Francis for having the integrity to stand firm on authentic gospel values and to think, speak, and act as Jesus did. May we all have the humility to listen and heed his message.

  2. S. Marsha Speth on September 25, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Thanks, Lori, for your wonderful comments!

  3. S. Jenny on September 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

    What a wonderful reflection to start the day! Thanks, Lori…

  4. Viv Dexter on September 25, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I couldn’t agree more with such a heartfelt and eloquent expression of thoughts.

  5. Joni on September 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Very well said Lori! Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt reflection.

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