Leaven Blog

Pope Francis is calling us to walk our talk

by Anita McSorley

I’m always amused to see our congressmen and senators interviewed in front of the statue of Will Rogers in our nation’s capitol, but perhaps not for the kindest of reasons.

A better judge of character never walked the earth, and the famous humorist made a living off of his good-natured skewering of pomposity wherever he saw it.

A few of my favorite quips of his should be enough to give you a clue.

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for,” he’d often say.

And “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

And the perennial favorite, “It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.”

I was reminded of Rogers when I heard there was a relatively new group formed called the NoLabels.

In addition to others, our congressmen and women have all been invited to join this group and work across the aisle to bring attention to bear on — brace yourself — solving actual problems.

For my money, the group might as well have been named DoingWhatWe’reActuallyPaidToDo. But NoLabels will do. And whether this is the group that will be able to make some progress on solving our actual problems in Washington or not, I do think it is high time that we take it as our cue to actively seek to break out of our own politically affiliated boxes.

Tribalism, of course, is the new buzzword used to explain how divisive our politics have become. And it has even invaded our churches. It’s amusing when it winds up with memes of the First Family posing with Pope Francis with his “resting pope face” on display. It’s not so funny when we choose “sides” and feel free to argue — even publicly — against papal teaching.

That’s why I encourage everyone to look for a piece by our reporter Joe Bollig in the Aug. 4 edition of The Leaven. This article is on a very unusual convocation held in Orlando last month.

For this unprecedented event, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops convened a gathering of key leaders — clerical and lay — from across the country to assess the unique challenges and opportunities of our time, particularly in the context of the Catholic Church in the United States. 

Attendees told Joe they felt a remarkable sense of family at the event — and of equality. Although many cardinals were in attendance, it was your baptism and not your ordination that got you in the door of this family reunion.

But it was also a bit of an intervention — one that discussed what was and what was not working well for the health of the family.

As you will read in the piece, the 22 delegates from the archdiocese came back informed, inspired and intent on carrying the Gospel to the peripheries Pope Francis speaks so often about.

That will play out, no doubt, in many ways here in the archdiocese in the days and weeks to come, as the participants find ways to transform the “talk” into the “walk.”

Because as my buddy Will Rogers used to say, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”

Which sounds remarkable similar to something attributed to Pope Francis’ namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

“Preach the Gospel at all times,” he said, according to legend.

“If necessary, use words.”

About the author

Anita McSorley

Anita, managing editor of The Leaven, has over 30 years’ experience in book, magazine and newspaper editing, including stints as the assistant editor of the “Diplomatic Papers of Daniel Webster” at Dartmouth College and then in the public relations departments of Texaco, Inc., and the Rockefeller Group in New York. Anita made the move to newspaper editing when she came to The Leaven in 1988, where she has been ever since. Anita is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and in her spare time, she enjoys giving her long-suffering husband, her children and her staff good advice that they never take.

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