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Caring For Migrants Is As Important As Opposing Abortion, Pope Says


Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to give special attention to the poor and the abandoned. He does so in a pronouncement called "Rejoice And Be Glad." Here's NPR's Tom Gjelten.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: Pope Francis has always been known for his common touch. He thinks of himself as a pastor, and that comes through in this new 46-page document. Father James Martin is a Jesuit priest like Francis, an editor of the Jesuit magazine America.

JAMES MARTIN: It's a roadmap for Christians on how to live a life of holiness.

GJELTEN: In his pronouncement, Francis speaks of the holiness he sees in parents who raise their children with immense love, in the men and women who work hard to support their families. He calls this the middle class of holiness. For those in positions of authority, holiness can simply mean working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. We are tempted, the pope says, to think that holiness is only for those who withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend time in prayer. But that is not the case. He warns highly educated Catholics against thinking that because we know something or are able to explain it we are superior to other members of the faithful. Father Martin sees the "Rejoice And Be Glad" pronouncement as a rebuke to conservatives who see themselves as defenders of Catholic orthodoxy.

J. MARTIN: Basically he's arguing against people who would say that they know it all, that they have the lock on what Catholic teaching is. And, frankly, that is in some measure a response to some of his critics who say that they know what it means to be Catholic and he doesn't.

GJELTEN: Francis says, for example, that caring about immigrants or the poor is no less important than caring about the unborn. Many conservative Catholics might disagree. In fact, Catholics are disagreeing about many things these days. On that point, Francis calls for more civility. Christians too, he warns, can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the Internet. Tom Gjelten, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Gjelten reports on religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.
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