The Pope in DC Means Hope in DC
In case you don't follow the news and didn't see my first blog in three months yesterday, Pope Francis will visit the Untied States later this month. Though my church of the past 10 years is Episcopal (also called "Catholic Light"), I am all over this pope -- as are many non-Catholics. He epitomizes the anti-Capitalist principles of Christ -- which is surprising when you consider the fact that he comes from a country whose economic system is similar to ours. Then again, it's not so surprising when you consider the fact that Latin America has given us such saintly people as Oscar Romero and Hugo Chavez -- the latter being more of a revolutionary, and thus, more my type. I can appreciate the pope's penchant for confronting Capitalism -- even if he isn't calling for full-on revolution. That said, global Capitalism is the root of much social injustice and many other evils in the world.
I don't know what the pope will say to Congress or to the general public while here, though his every word is music to my ears. Maybe he'll point an accusatory finger at the U.S. Government for its imperialism and for being the chief promoter of global Capitalism. Let's hope. Maybe he's heard about our localized Fascism whereby city governments oppress the poor with laws that criminalize the life-sustaining activities of homeless people and outlaw feeding them -- the latter being in direct contrast with Galatians 5:22-23. Maybe the pope will hear about the HEARTH Act and the Obama administration's efforts to decrease homelessness. He'll feed the homeless and be briefed on the issue while at St. Patrick's cathedral on September 24th. St. Patrick's houses the offices of Catholic Charities for the archdiocese of Washington, DC. It also sits right across the road from a library where many of the city's homeless spend their days. Maybe he, like many visitors to the U.S., will be surprised and appalled to find that there are homeless people in the capital of the (second???) wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth.
It's safe to assume that Mayor Muriel Bowser will accompany the Obamas to Andrews Air Force Base to welcome the pontiff on the 22nd or she'll figure significantly into some part of the pope's schedule. Well my critique of her is, by all means, a mild one. She is keeping her promise to focus on ending homelessness and to decrease extreme poverty, even if her logic seems a bit skewed and her plan ill-advised. One might even question whether or not she is housing families so that she can build an Olympic village on the site of the DC General Family Shelter before 2028. Maybe the pope has gotten the pulse of the poor community in this country and will tell Ms. Bowser that the Black Lives Matter Movement, recent actions by the Black Panthers and DC's recent spike in violence are indicative of a revolution that is brewing within our borders. Maybe Bowser will replace her policy of increased policing with a full-on social justice agenda after Pope Francis helps her to see the light. Let's hope.
Maybe the pope will hear about Washington, DC's rich past in terms of fighting for social justice and about how the CCNV Shelter which stands as a testament to both the successes and unfinished work of that era has had its future called into question -- with the current mayor having been silent hereto now about her plans for the building (though media is rife with negative coverage of the city block where the shelter is located). Maybe pope Francis will get the sense that we're losing the fight against homelessness and the fighters. Maybe he'll inject a new sense of hope into the weary warriors who remain. Let's hope. After all, that's all we CAN do. Hope.