I am thankful to Pope Francis for speaking out in favor of justice, and lifting up of the oppressed. During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis, by his words and his deeds, showed caring and compassion for immigrants, prisoners, the homeless, and those in need.
For too long, those who care only about the rich and powerful have tried to claim that they own morality, scripture, and faith. And yet, a frequently repeated, central teaching of scripture is “do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
The prophet Isaiah, in Chapter 58, warns the people that God is not impressed by their prayers unless they are also clothing the naked and caring for the poor.
As the United States has moved toward ever-greater income inequality in recent decades, with more and more of the wealth concentrated in a small number of hands, millions continue to suffer in poverty. It is powerful and important to be reminded that considerations of morality and faith must include caring for “the least of these.”
For myself, it is also personally moving to see a Pope that I can respect and appreciate. As a Jew, who grew up attending religious school, and a descendant of those who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria, I grew up learning about the negative history between prior Popes and the Jewish community.
I never thought I would have the experience in my lifetime of seeing a Pope who embraces and welcomes all people.
For this too, I offer my deep thanks to Pope Francis.
And may we be inspired to continue to take action to manifest peace and justice on earth.
Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland City Councilmember at Large.