BY JESSE JACKSON
Pope Francis is displaying an extraordinary style and passion that demands our attention. He addresses the needs of the poor, embraces outcasts, and loves those on the margins of society. In this recent “apostolic exhortation,” The Joy of the Gospel, the pope raises a moral challenge to both his church and the world. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Pope Francis calls upon people of faith to “go forth” to preach and practice their faith. “I prefer a church,” he writes, “which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy for being confined and from clinging to its own security.” Pope Francis raises a profound moral voice against “trickle-down theories,” which put a “crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” We have created “new idols,” he warns, in the worship of money and markets. The result is that “human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.” We have witnessed “a globalization of indifference,” in which the poor are dehumanized and ignored, he writes. Pope Francis’ exhortation, over 50,000 words long, deals broadly with the church, the papacy and matters of the faith. He is not a revolutionary. He states that the priesthood will remain open only to men, that the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion will continue. But he directs new focus and passion to the growing inequality between and within countries, the stark contrast between the wealth of our technology and invention and the poverty of our ethics.