by Mark Shriver
On Sunday, my family and I attended the Archdiocese of Washington’s annual White Mass, celebrating the gifts of people with special needs. During his homily, my friend Father John Enzler quoted Pope Francis, who was asked earlier this year what advice he’d give to a priest who was not willing to accept people with developmental or physical differences. The Pope’s response could not have been more clear: “Close the door of the church, please! Either everyone or no one.”
At a time when our country is deeply divided, that line struck a chord with me: Either everyone or no one.
We are facing some serious challenges and I wish I could say I had all the solutions. But I do know that the only way to bring about lasting change is by being inclusive.
Addressing a group of trash collectors, migrant farmers, slum dwellers and others, Pope Francis said, “Grassroots movements express the urgent need to revitalize our democracies . . . it is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of great majorities as protagonists.” And all of this, he said, must be done “with a constructive spirit, without resentment, with love.”
Over the last two and a half years, I have been working on a book called Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis. In that time, I have learned a lot about what the “least among us” can achieve by working together. I have reflected quite a bit on that and on the Pope’s words since Election Day, and they have reenergized me and given me hope.
Here at Save the Children Action Network, we are committed to continuing to fight to give all children around the world a fair start in life. Frankly, I believe this is the most pressing social justice issue of our time, and I am thankful that we have you and nearly 200,000 other people on our side.
Will change come quickly or be easy? No. But to paraphrase the Pope, it’s impossible to imagine how we will get there without the active participation of protagonists like you.
This Thanksgiving, I am more grateful than ever to live in a democracy, and to be a part of a grassroots movement with so many people who share our commitment to a world in which every child has the opportunity for a bright future. And I am hopeful that we will achieve that vision. As Margaret Mead so wisely put it, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”