By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
I haven’t heard the word much since the 1980s. But it certainly comes to mind while listening to the wisdom of Pope Francis. He’s steadfast in his adherence to the Gospel – and not hesitant in challenging us to the same.
In April, the Pope spoke at a TED conference on “The Future You.” His message was simple. We are all connected; we need each other. And life would be better for all if we lived in harmony with each other. Secondly, we need to live in solidarity with each other, a solidarity rooted in the belief that “life is a gift, that love is the source and meaning of life.”
The Pope ended with a call to revolution – a revolution of tenderness, which he sees as the path of solidarity, the path of humility. He noted it as the path of choice for the strongest and most courageous.
While it seems counter-intuitive, it certainly was true for Marietta Jaeger-Lane. Her seven-year-old daughter Susie was kidnapped and murdered in 1973. Her testimony outlining her struggles to forgive the man who murdered her daughter and her ultimate realization that God loved her daughter and her – and the man who murdered Susie. Her voice, of solidarity and humility, has been a powerful voice in the anti-death penalty movement.
Another example of the courageous Gospel stance is that of several US Catholic organizations which had attended a Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference in Rome, in April 2016. These groups, with their international counterparts issued an “Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence.” This May, they have started a national campaign,” Instruments of Reconciliation,” which urges American Catholics to send letters to their bishops during the month of May, asking for greater teaching and commitment to active and creative nonviolence. You are invited to take to part in this campaign; information can be found at https://paxchristiusa.org/programs/disarmament-demilitarization-and-reconciliation-with-justice/amplify-active-nonviolence-in-the-church/
May we, like Pope Francis, Marietta Jaeger-Lane and the Catholic peace organizations have the courage to face our world, a world embroiled in hatred, division, distrust and violence, and see it as God sees it – with profound love and hope. May we, too, develop strong and tender hearts.