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The Pope among nations

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, came to Cuba and the United States this week, and during the last leg spoke to world leaders and representatives at the United Nations.

The Pope began by recalling the visits of his predecessors to the UN, which he commended as helping “dispel the darkness of the disorder caused by unrestrained ambitions and collective forms of selfishness.”

Despite efforts and interventions of organizations like the UN, however, there remain many global issues that need a global solution. The Pope repeats what he said in a recent encyclical about the right of the environment, of which we humans are merely part. “Any harm done to the environment...is harm done to humanity.” An ensuing culture of waste gives rise to a situation of exclusion and inequality. The Pope expressed hope that the approaching climate change talks to be held in Paris would yield effective agreements.

After all, nowhere is global inequality more apparent than in the climate change debate: those most responsible for the accumulation of greenhouse gases over centuries of resource exploitation are decidedly not the ones suffering from extreme weather events and inability to mitigate and prevent such disasters, much less respond to and rehabilitate themselves when it strikes. 

The Pope also reminded the world’s leaders that the lives of human beings take precedence over partisan interests. In the context of war, for instance, people are not mere statistics that should be easily discarded.

Finally, Pope Francis talked about the war against drugs, which is taken for granted, poorly fought, and accompanied by other menaces.

In the end, the Pope said that only “a higher degree of wisdom, one which accepts transcendence, rejects the creation of an all-powerful elite and recognizes that the full meaning of individual and collective life is found in selfless service to others and in the sage and the respectful use of creating for the common good.”

The Pope has been criticized as too liberal by conservatives and still too conservative by those expecting him to take any other stand aside from the Church’s. Whatever he is to many, he raises global issues that both leaders and ordinary citizens must ponder. Francis is the leader of only one church, yes, but this church counts billions in members, and these billions swear they live by the teachings of peace and compassion to all.

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