Pope Francis’ Dream To Change The World

Pope Francis’  ‘apostolic exhortation,’ Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel) has raised hopes for renewal in the Catholic Church as well as global change for the common good.

Having read the document, I think that most non-Catholic Christians will find much to agree with, particularly the statements on evangelism, missions and discipleship.  The suggestions for parish hospitality, optimism/hope and good preaching apply to churches everywhere.

Jews, Muslims, adherents of other world religions, even non-believers will likely welcome his invitation for dialogue based on mutual respect.

Catholic scholar George Weigel writes of Pope Francis the Revolutionary in his ‘Wall Street Journal’ column.

The “National Catholic Reporter” compares “Evangelii Gaudium” to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

Much of the media attention has been on the sections addressing “Some Challenges of Today’s World” and the “The Inclusion of the Poor.”

A few of his memorable statements:

“The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.”

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?”

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

I wonder whether “Evangelii Gaudium” will indeed initiate renewal in the Catholic Church and influence Catholic public policy initiatives, particularly in the U.S.   As well as addressing the Church’s internal problems the Pope offers some very strong statements challenging if not condemning economic inequality, globalization and ‘laissez faire’ capitalism as well as hoarded personal wealth in the presence of human need.

Will it prove to be revolutionary and as memorable as King’s “I Have A Dream Speech?”   Time will tell.

In addition to the substance of his treatise there are some valuable lessons to be learned from Pope Francis’ leadership style.

Jim Copple, in an email noted that he -

  • leads by example in his own service to the poor
  • speaks clearly about his objectives and,
  • is not afraid to admit his own failings or the failings of the organization he leads.

As a leader Pope Francis is being well received for -

  • his call for collaboration and,
  • the realization that “some may be offended” by his words.

Leaders today cannot succeed on their own nor expect all their followers to agree with them – not even the Pope.

He recognizes that “Evangelii Gaudium,” his ‘dream’ for a renewed Church and changed world will not happen unless leaders everywhere, both in and outside his Church have the courage and integrity to create a new community together.

4 Responses to “Pope Francis’ Dream To Change The World”

  1. Hal Chappelear Says:

    If our church leadership fails to lead their congregations in the way Pope Francis suggests, who will?

  2. Larry Dennis Says:

    Thanks Tom . . . Pope Francis would make a good Nazarene, better than most. Cardinal Dolan represented him well on Meet The Press. No bones about it, the Catholic Church is standing firm on their opposition to Obama Care’s pro-abortion stance and same sex marriage. He also spanked Republicans for their do nothing position on immigration. No plans to change my affiliation but think he right on that one too.

  3. Jess Middendorf Says:

    Excellent post. We have to take seriously the model and example of leadership that Pope Francis is providing all people of faith.

  4. Phil Stout Says:

    From the moment I saw that we had a Jesuit who took the name “Francis” I was excited to see what would happen. I have been thrilled at the example, authenticity and passion for justice that Francis continually exhibits.

    Thank you, Dr. Nees, for being a voice for justice among us!