Congress

The floor of U.S. House of Representatives where Pope Francis will address Congress on September 24.

BY CHRIS KERRSeptember 21, 2015

Some people are more excited about Pope Francis’s address to Congress next week than others. Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-5), a Catholic and graduate of Creighton University, has published an op-ed stating that he will NOT attend Pope Francis’s address because he anticipates the text being focused on climate change, which he describes as a “fool’s errand.”

While many may be most disappointed by Congressman Gosar’s stance on climate change, a stance that 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists across the globe disagree with, what I find most troubling, as a fellow product of Jesuit education, is his lack of willingness to at least listen when Pope Francis comes to Congress this week.

Former ‪‎Jesuit‬ Superior General Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach described Jesuit education as an experience where students, “should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed.” [Kolvenbach, Santa Clara, 2000]

How can we come to understand the perspective of our Catholic faith, and its invitation to stand with the marginalized, if we are unwilling to at least listen? By choosing not to attend and at least hear Pope Francis’s message, Congressman Gosar will miss this opportunity to understand the Pope’s perspective grounded in his concern for others and his love of Christ. He will miss that invitation to solidarity that Fr. Kolvenbach described as paramount to the experience of Jesuit education.

As Pope Francis has said on numerous occasions, “It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue.”

Congressman Gosar, I hope you will reconsider your decision to boycott. Join us in the dialogue for a more peaceful and just world.

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