By Father Luis Arriaga, S.J.
Jesuit Legal Fellow
Those who profess the Catholic faith are rejoicing! Not only is it rare for a pope to visit the U.S., never have we had a visit from a pope with an origin from the Americas. Now, Pope Francis is visiting several American cities.
At a time when religion is in crisis, the Church has a pope who is one of the most important leaders of the world. He is a man who has accepted that the love of God lives within him. He does not believe that the dogma of the Church is as important as that of being human, i.e., the freeing of the poor and those who suffer injustices in this world. Pope Francis has stated that poverty is not eradicated by assistance or charity, but by the public policy of governments that should return dignity to the oppressed and make their citizens autonomous and participatory. In other words, there should be a radical change from the logic of mere financial assistance to the poor to a philosophy that society should provide opportunities for social development for people of all economic levels.
In his own life, Pope Francis has chosen the option of supporting the poor and of living modestly in solidarity with them. He has said the poor are one of his primary concerns. He would very much like a Church whose leaders live modest lives and a Church that works with the poor. This option is not only an issue for discussion, but an option for solidarity as the mission of the church. His philosophy is grounded in the economical disparities of Latin America. It is an option that includes Pastoral attention to all people.
In his recent encyclical, he broke all paradigms of the Church that have separated it from science and from non-believers. He gives credibility to science. The earth belongs to everyone, especially the poor, because the poor have historically been excluded. He is an astute man who takes risks and is compassionate.
He addresses critical thought. He is a Latino pope who notices what goes on in the real world and in history. He has lived in Latin America, where the political process has resulted in social movements to improve the conditions of the poor. He not only thinks in terms of religious thought but also that of scientific and ethical thought.
His visit to the U.S. will lift up our hope, not only regarding ecology but even about issues crucial in the political agenda, such as immigration, education and exclusion. Pope Francis specifically presents himself as a pastor, and he speaks from an open heart to a globalized world in which the role of the United States is fundamental.
We at Loyola Law School are proud to carry forth the type of Jesuit mission that embraces brand of social justice so honored by Pope Francis and look forward to the dialogue his visit generates.