On April 16, Pope Francis, along with the patriarchs of the Orthodox Christian Church and the Church of Greece, visited Syrian refugees on the Greek Island of Lesbos in what was billed as an attempt to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees as the European Union plans to deport the refugees back to Turkey.
In a gesture to encourage, or perhaps embarrass, the nations of Europe, the pope returned to the Vatican with three Syrian Muslim families, whom the Vatican will support. He used a quotation from Mother Teresa when he described the motivation for his gesture as but a drop in the sea, which, however, would never be the same again.
I agree that this is a wonderful example for the nations of Europe to follow. However, as a lifelong Roman Catholic, I believe the pope’s gesture falls far short of the example the Holy See needs to set for the nations of the world when it comes to caring for the poor and oppressed.
I know how Jesus reacted to the “money-changers” in the temple. I can only guess how he would react to the wealth he would encounter if he walked through the Vatican today. Yes, Pope Francis, divest the church of its billions of dollars of art, treasure and gold, and use those resources to help the downtrodden of the world. I’m sure that is exactly what Jesus would do. You do not have to divest the church of its 15-20 percent ownership of the Italian stock market, which finances the operation of the Vatican and many of its important, charitable programs. Divest yourself of the opulence that makes the Vatican a museum and not the holy place it should be.
Before you ask the people of the world to take on the responsibility of being their brother’s and sister’s keepers, you must set the example for all of us to follow.
Franklin A. Hirth