There are few people who can inspire hundreds of sleep-deprived college students to wake up at 2:30am, let alone make the long trek to Capitol Hill just to see them on a screen. But Pope Francis can. Millions of people around the globe tuned in just to hear him address Congress. His ideas about poverty, income inequality, and our obligation to help one another speak deeply to the mission here at Georgetown and our aim to create women and men for others.
Don’t get me wrong: Pope Francis is not a Democrat. He insists that “Some people might say some things sounded slightly more left-ish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation.” His actions towards homosexuals and women in the church, while welcome steps forwards from his predecessors, still at best send mixed messages about equality and love. Despite the very real problems with his social beliefs, however, the Pope’s far-sighted and inclusive economic policy speaks to the same values that our university champions.
So what exactly does he believe? Ever since his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in 2013, Pope Francis has set the tone for a Church mission to actively remind Christians around the world of the Christian responsibility to care for all. He debunked the theory of “trickle-down economics” and faulted the “idolatry of money.” Just last month, he called on Congress to save those “trapped in a cycle of poverty”, for “the fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.” This statement closely echoes St. Ignatius of Loyola’s belief that “if our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, we are guilty of heresy.”
Caring for others is deeply ingrained in the Jesuit philosophy. It is the culture of Georgetown, an integral part of what makes this student body special. Pope Francis’ visit should serve as a reminder that we as humans have a duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves. It is a reminder that we, as Hoyas, can and must make a difference in this world. So Georgetown, as St. Ignatius of Loyola said: “Go and set the world on fire.”