"Pope Francis Gave the Deliberative Democracy Network a Gift..." - Reflections by Gregg Kaufman

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In the following essay, Rev. Gregg Kaufman, National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) member and retired Lutheran pastor and professor, reflects on Pope Francis' recent message to the United States Congress in which he empasized the importance of dialogue and engaging all people to help solve problems.

Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States reinforces the value of engaging one another in respectful conversation. The Pope used the word, “dialogue” eleven times throughout his address to Congress by expressing his desire to converse with “men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work,” “elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience,” and “all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations.”

Pope Francis used Thomas Merton, the Roman Catholic monk as a model. Dr. Gregory Hillis, Associate Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University attests to Merton’s capacity for dialogue in a column in September 25th Louisville Courier-Journal. Hillis paraphrased Merton by writing, “Our starting point must be respect for persons in their beauty and worth who merit being given a hearing even when their positions are opposed to our own.”

Pope Francis appealed to the United States, “the land of the free and home of the brave,” by noting democracy’s benefits and corresponding responsibility. Writing of “responsibility ethics,” Dr. Roger Willer distinguishes among three kinds of ethics. The first, an ethic of duty or determining what is right; second, goal-oriented or virtuous ethics to accomplish a public good or grow as a person; and third, responsibility ethics where we live as “dialogical creatures…human beings as answerers who live through response and interaction and struggle with the complex situations of contemporary life.”

Pope Francis gave the deliberative democracy network a gift by calling us to the noble work and common responsibility to engage all citizens in dialogue.


comments on Pope's admonition

karen's picture

Sounds like what Jesus had in mind...to listen to everyone....position or status

Too bad he needs such protection.....a inside look at how we are now

Thank you for sending it