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'Reclaim the dignity of every human being': Pope Francis, too, has a dream

The Pope's new book covers a wide range of social justice topics, consistent with his oeuvre and potentially indispensable for the oppressed around the world.

Among other topics, Pope Francis' new book—due December 1st and co-authored with his biographer Austen Ivereigh—tackles White racism head-on.

The book, formed from an interview between the Holy Father and Ivereigh, additionally covers racism worldwide and a range of other social justice topics, centering on oppressed groups in Asia and the Middle East.

Given Francis' meeting earlier today with prominent athlete activists, his seemingly strategic elevation of the first African-American cardinal during Black Catholic History Month, and his critiques of racism in "Fratelli Tutti", it would seem that African Americans are also squarely in his sights as a group mistreated at home and in need of the world's (and the Vatican's) support.

Contrasting anti-racism protesters with those who view masks as an oppressive imposition (the latter group including the demographic that often sees Francis as an obstacle to faithful Catholicism), the Pope notes that false "victims" will have a hard time resonating with most justice-oriented demonstration.

He seems to take particularly focused aim at those who deny the reality of the culture of death and yet call themselves "pro-life".

"My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life."

He goes so far as to note that such critics of social justice movements "are incapable of moving outside of their own little world of interests."

He includes masks themselves, and larger response to the pandemic, as elements of authentic concern for the poor and disadvantaged. In America, where COVID has had an outsize impact on Black Americans, one might even use the term 'historically oppressed'.

In a move that might shock some Americans, the Pope also called for an exploration of Universal Basic Income as a path forward for the globe's economies, reiterating a statement he made in April—that, like many statements from Francis, was later softened by Vatican officials.

Bound up in the discussion of environmental justice, which the Pope also covers in the book, alongside polarization and fundamentalism, is the issue of reparations—perhaps particularly for Black Americans, who have been awaiting them on a promise some 150 years old.

And indeed right on cue, Black Catholics are beginning to speak up on these topics more and more.

Nate Tinner-Williams. Co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger. Priesthood applicant with the Josephites. ThM student w/ the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA)

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