To Mr. Rusthoven [How Pope Francis lost his way in Cuba, Oct. 12 IBJ] I simply say: Amen. Pope John Paul II understood how to facilitate change. In the U.S. and other western countries, an appeal to the Church’s moral code and ethics was enough to move people to action.
However, in communist countries and repressive/tyrannical regimes, he knew we had to fight them. Fight them, not with soldiers and bombs, but by pointing out their inherent flaws, their designed contradictions and intentionally repressed freedoms. John Paul II knew the harsh living conditions and failed results of both the Nazis and the Communists, which allowed him to use the church’s (Jesus’) teachings to juxtapose their iron fist. In order to beat the bully, you first have to stand up to them.
Enter Pope Francis who, to his credit, focuses on love. Love everyone. Love the poor. Love the prisoner. Love the migrant. Love your enemy. This is the teaching right from Jesus’ mouth. It is one of the most difficult teachings to follow, but Pope Francis is right—this is what we are all called to do.
Just remember that love is an action. Do you love your neighbor who beats his wife by talking to him or calling the cops? Do you love your 6-year-old child by yelling at them to stay out of the kitchen or allowing them to potentially burn their hand on the hot stove? Do you love Cubans by praying for all Cubans (dissidents and oppressors) or by calling for the oppressors to stop oppressing the people?