(SNN) - From a report on a recent homily given by Pope Francis, journalist Kimberley Winston, of USA Today, writes that the pontiff has revealed his belief that ALL people, those who identify themselves as religious, together with those who do not, can effectively ban together to perform good works. This is a surprising departure from the position by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. According to Winston, Benedict was a vocal opponent of secularism. I believe that it takes great courage and comfort in his own skin for Francis, as the revered and holy leader of the largest Christian community in the world, to bring such a progressive view out in the public. And, it’s about time.
Media today is full of frightening news. It appears that our world is rapidly spiraling further down into an evil abyss. Never-ending wars, increasing occurrences of terrorism spreading further into first world countries, alarming environmental changes on an international scale, more frequent and highly destructive natural disasters...these are the reports that fill our flat screens and appear in our news feeds, 24/7. To hear good news about a major religious leader embracing people with widely differing views on life and religion and choosing to focus on their good works instead of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, is refreshing. It gives hope that there are still good human beings on Earth who can work side-by-side caring for others simply because they are all compasionate people who want to help those who suffer. Let’s drop the labels and just look at the person. Can we stop assuming that an atheist is doomed to an eternity of unbearable heat? Can we get past judging the neighbor who stays home on a Sunday morning to read the newspaper instead of joining the guy next door who hasn’t missed an early mass in 20 years?
Apparently, Pope Francis is a man who knows how to put these things into perspective. As quoted in Winston’s article, Dale McGowan, of Foundation Beyond Belief, an organization where secular volunteers use funding given by nonbelievers to help charities and relief groups do good works, stated that through his words, the pope is telling the secularist community, “I don’t fear you”, which McGowan expressed as “a beautiful thing”. Where can there be more power in people helping others than when all segments of the population come together to lift people out of devastation, poverty, and despair? Good works are good works, no matter if they are performed by a Baptist, a Muslim, or an Secularist. Just ask Pope Francis.
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