For the Poor?

FRANCIS2With the same kind of heart swelling romance that comes from the occasional promising moment in an otherwise bad relationship, I was ecstatic and naively optimistic with the announcement of our new Pope. I basked in the facts that he was from Latin America and he named himself after the peaceful St. Francis, whose legacy we have all been taught to love.

. . . but, I first winced when I realized that there may have been a relationship with The Dirty War in Argentina, because the Argentine Catholic hierarchy was known to play a role. At the very least, the once-called Bergoglia was likely morally complicit by remaining silent. And, of course, there is the continual frustration with the Church and our new Pope’s (really any new Pope would be the same) views and statements on gay marriage and contraception.

. . . and, I am pleased that Pope Francis has chosen to focus his rhetoric of the past week on global poverty — even extending this idea by juxtaposing it against the not-poor-at-all Catholic hierarchy. But, rhetoric and charity only go so far.

If Pope Francis really wants to take meaningful steps towards eradicating global poverty, he has the power to do it. I want more than rhetoric. I want to witness the power of strategic change that truly can transform the lives of those living on the losing end of our worldwide capitalist structure.

The first big step towards eradicating global poverty? Embracing contraception. There is a direct and powerful connection between a woman’s inability to control her own reproduction and her chances of living in poverty. Countless studies have shown the direct link between contraception and women’s wages . . . and, of course, the increase of women’s wages on the quality of life for an entire family — especially children.

Access to contraception without religious shame is life-affirming, decreases poverty and decreases abortion rates. Shame should be reserved for any Church leader who purposefully takes the name of St. Francis as a symbol of working for the poor while continuing to believe that controlling women’s sexuality is more important than moving families out of poverty.

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