Social Justice Contest Entry

April 3rd, 2017
Pope Francis
by Emma Wilson
SCHOOL: St. Francis of Assisi Technology College, Aldridge, England

As Catholics, we follow many role models who set an example of what makes a good Christian, prime examples of this includes key figures such as Jesus or, a more modern example, would be Pope Francis. An activist for social justice is someone who tries to change the world in a way so that it is more fair and equal, this can be achieved by supporting campaigns. As head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis actively uses his influence to encourage the support of charitable work as well as directly campaign for human rights around the world. Examples of this include ‘Red Wednesday’, an event organised by the charity ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ to raise awareness for the persecution of Christians worldwide. Despite being of the Catholic denomination of Christianity by supporting this event we are able to understand that he doesn’t care about a person’s appearance/beliefs even if he disagrees because “All life is sacred”-CCC thus, this has led to many people outside of Catholicism listening to his thoughts and often understanding and heeding his word. In mid-June 2016 Pope Francis raised awareness for the charity by creating a video of support to create unity in people, this was further backed up through various other notions where he said important quotes such as “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil”, and “It’s the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people”.

Not only does he campaign for the rights of individuals but for the rights of the planet by inspiring people to care for our God given creation through his tweets, e.g. “the earth is looking more and more like a great pile of filth” and “We have to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. The most recent Holy Year has been based entirely around mercy but that doesn’t just mean one another as “Laudato si” has been a key phrase throughout the year meaning ‘Care for our common home’. This means that it is the responsibility of every single one of us to look after our planet which Pope Francis has worked to achieve through his involvement in deciding the Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals outline a blueprint for development priorities, with about 169 targets, to be completed by 2030. They replaced the Millennium Development Goals as there were many worries that the original goals failed to listen to the cries of the people they were initially trying to help. The main goals include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education as well as aiming for sustainability amongst other things. Pope Francis initially viewed the goals and, using his authority, was able to apply suggestions. In many aspects, Pope Francis is considered the first ‘green’ pope because of his support in this situation as well as how honest he is in his beliefs about the necessity of supporting the situation but he is also more direct and repetitive in his points – “We still have time to make the change needed”-Pope Francis. This is a very important issue that Pope Francis has presented and one that not just Christians should heed. Through all this work Pope Francis is trying to remind us of what is important and how necessary it is that we start to make a change in our world because it is not the sole responsibility of our peers because we were all given the Earth to protect. “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination”-Jeremiah 2:7, This quote is key because as humans we were given the Earth as a gift from God to look after yet we did just as it said. We took what we have for granted and continually do and by doing so damage the Earth and our relationship with God but, fortunately for us, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”-1 Corinthians 13:7.

Pope Francis’ support for the Sustainable Development Goals also displays his support for human rights as many of the goals include giving people the education they deserve, allowing access for decent healthcare to everyone and allowing freedom of religion/beliefs along with many other basic human rights. Like many of his other points he repeatedly expresses the importance of supporting these goals through involvement with the charities and predominantly shows his support by following them himself. As part of the Divine Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has travelled the world meeting many world leaders and people of different cultures yet, throughout it all, he was still loving to everyone of any religion and was accepting as “We Christians are called to go out ourselves to bring mercy and tenderness of God to all”-Pope Francis. This aligns with the British value of mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. British values are the basic expectation of each British person that must be upheld but it shouldn’t just be expected of the British but to everyone – “Respect for the human person considers the other ‘another self’. It presupposes respect for the fundamental rights that flow from the dignity intrinsic of the person”-CCC.

With everything he has done, I believe that Pope Francis is an admirable man of many accomplishments who will continue to make a change throughout 2017 and the rest of his life. He is an excellent example of someone who wants to make a difference in any way he can that it is his power and I believe that he is a great example for Christians everywhere because of his dedication and passionate that is a result of his religion that is his ‘driving force’. From him we should be inspired to make our own difference in 2017 in whatever small way we can which could include volunteering for charity work.