My Audience with Pope Francis a Reminder of Common Goal

  • Pope

My Audience with Pope Francis a Reminder of Common Goal
by Rep. French Hill
Arkansas Catholic
November 12, 2021

In August, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Rome with Catholic leaders and legislators from around the world. We discussed many of the tough issues that our families and communities currently face amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing pursuit of religious freedom in the face of threats from China, and the benefits of technology and its potential pitfalls.  

While in Rome, I spoke with like-minded individuals concerned with how the pandemic limited the right of religious liberty to many of our constituents. In America, I, alongside many other people of faith, complained "the liquor stores are open, but our churches are closed." This complaint epitomized the situation in many communities across our nation. The overly restrictive public health mandates separated the ability to visit the sick, the dying from last rites, and the faithful from the Holy Eucharist. Fortunately, in the United States, many leaders spoke up which resulted in some of these unreasonable restrictions being lifted. We have seen firsthand that it is possible to use common sense and recommendations from federal health agencies like the CDC to offer safe access to religious expression within our communities.

However, in other countries like Uganda, citizens have not been as fortunate. This sentiment was felt across the globe, with faithful Catholics in Uganda complaining about their churches being closed, yet their leaders simply suggesting that they turn to an online outlet for religious expression. In a country where only 15% of households have electricity and nearly no one has access to the Internet, this was almost impossible.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that Americans enjoy every day but that, sadly, is not respected by all governments and non-state actors around the world. Religious minorities of many different faiths suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence by their own governments and from their own citizens.

My colleagues and I also discussed the Chinese Communist Party and its threat to religious liberty and free expression. This is performed via predatory tactics including their neocolonial “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Across the globe, countries and their leaders are waking up to the malicious military and economic policies in China.  The United States should serve as a beacon of hope and freedom and continue to be a leader in fighting religious persecution wherever it occurs

Finally, global legislators partook in a fascinating discussion regarding the impact of science and technology on morality, our communities, and our faith. We had an audience with Pope Francis who addressed this topic head-on. The Pope described the administration of technology for the common good as one of the greatest policy challenges confronting us. He reminded us that in his Laudato si' that "it is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities that they continue to open up before us, for science and technology are wonderful products of a God-given human creativity." But the Holy Father urged us as legislators to always protect human dignity. He cited the examples of “the scourge of child pornography, the misuse of personal data, attacks on critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and the spread of false information on social media.”

He added that, “If we are to heal our world so harshly tried by the pandemic and build a more inclusive and sustainable future in which technology serves human needs without isolating us from one another, we need not only responsible citizens, but also capable leaders inspired by the principle of common good.”

As a Catholic, having an audience with Pope Francis was inspiring and emotional, and I believe it’s important we heed the advice of the Holy Father and strive to live our daily lives toward doing what’s best for the common good.


Keep In Touch

Please sign up below to receive my weekly newsletter and get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.