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September 1. 2015

"Fight On Pope Man"

By Khalid Saeed

Few weeks ago Matt Rexroad, former Mayor of Woodland, who is currently Chair of County board of supervisors, made an interesting comment on a social media site,  “You know something. I like the Pope. If the faith community just hides inside the four walls of a church once a week... nothing happens. The faith community needs to be part of the debate and he's one of the leaders in the faith community. I may not agree with every one of his policies but I like the fact that he is out there. Fight On Pope Man.”

Ever since Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis on March 13, 2013 and I have seen him being very open and very vocal on issues which he feels are important and are close to heart.

In the Muslim Holy Book, The Quran,  God Almighty, the creator,  says:  “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity,” Chapter 3.104

Enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong is a very important concept of Islam. If we look around us in different social settings our likes and dislikes are very common. Sometimes times our approval of something is explicit: we argue for or against something. And then other times sometimes it is implicit: we show our approval or disapproval of something by showing interest or lack of interest. More often than not we realize, we are engaged in persuading others or are being persuaded by them about big and small things in life. It is a very powerful force also.

When it comes to Pope Francis, while the world’s media, specially the third world, fell in love with him.

However, there are conservative Catholic bishops who are not happy with Pope Francis and feel that new Pope’s  popular appeal is at the expense of carefully worked-out centuries old Church rituals and teachings.

Albert R. Hunt  in his recent article in Bloomberg wrote: ” Today's conservatives are apprehensive about Pope Francis, who has changed the tone and culture, not the doctrines, of the Catholic Church in less than two years as pontiff. He stresses, with passion and authenticity, a commitment to addressing poverty and income inequality more than the social issues that have dominated much of the Catholic debate in America.”

About Pope’s stands on divers’ issues Hunt says: “The pope helped broker the recent thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations, to the consternation of conservatives. Francis now is determined to make addressing climate change a moral imperative for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. This doesn't mean that Francis is the poster pope for liberal Democrats. He's challenging everybody." 

Hunt  emphasized, “Most Democrats haven't been talking about poverty."

It is my belief the Pope genuinely feels for the humanity and he is not afraid to be vocal about it. “Things have a price, and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than the things.” 

At the annual meeting of world economic forum in 2014 pope Francis’s message was, “I ask you to ensure that the humanity is served by wealth, and not ruled by it.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Almighty the creator of heaven and earth command the believers in holy Quran 4:135,"O you who believe! Stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do." 

I feel where ever we are in life, it is important to come out to raise our voices in support of racial justice, social justice and equity issues.

Khalid Saeed is the Director of the Woodland Islamic Center, Woodland CA.