Opinion: A Pope for the Common Good


U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), second from the right, at the installation of Pope Francis on Tuesday.
By Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro
Special to CTLatinoNews.com
As a Catholic whose values of community and service were formed in the parish of St. Michaels in Wooster Square, it was a deep honor to attend the installation of Pope Francis. The spirit of hope that filled St. Peter’s Square and lifted up a diverse crowd from around the world is something I will never forget.
Yet beyond the festivities that surround the beginning of a new papacy, it was the words of the new Pope that left a profound and lasting impression. His message reminded me that faith can and should inform the moral responsibilities of government and influence our democracy.
In his homily, Francis said his charge was “to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.” He asked “all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life” to also “be protectors of the poor and the disabled.” And in a simple yet powerful statement he reminded us all the essence of our call. “Let us never forget,” he said, “that authentic power is service.”
Indeed, this extraordinary experience reaffirmed my faith and vocation as a public servant. As a Catholic Democrat in Congress, who came of age during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, I was proud to once again be part of the living Catholic tradition – one that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those in society who are most in need.
Pope Francis’ words remind me of the faith that informs my work as a legislator and inspire me to redouble my efforts to fight the devastating impact to working families of the budget passed this week by the House Majority. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget would get at least 66 percent of its non-defense budget cuts from services for those with limited income, decimating our social safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid, and turn Medicare into voucher program. On top of draconian cuts already in place it would devastate public school budgets, job training and health services across the nation while cutting taxes for the most affluent.
I believe communities and societies are judged by how we treat the least fortunate, and that goes for nations as well. The federal budget’s priorities should be informed by a moral obligation to alleviate pain and suffering wherever we may see it. The Ryan budget fails on this account and fails Pope Francis’ call to renew our commitment to the least amongst us
That is why attending the installation of Pope Francis was more than a blessing; it was a call to action — to continue to raise my voice for the common good; to work toward a more just society; and to advance the moral responsibilities of government. I will carry that vision of service with me and hope that all elected officials and people of good will heed Pope Francis’ words and work to ensure our service is truly a service to those in need.
(Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from New Haven, represents the Third Congressional District.)