Pope Francis has pulled off what some might call a miracle: The knitting together, at least for a moment, of a nation that has been split by some bitter rancor. This makes him the Magic Pope.
In his address before Congress, he called upon the best in all of us to "dialogue" and work together for the common good. In the Catholic tradition, "common good" means more than the collective interests of individuals, but something higher--the consideration of and the working for those whose collective interests are submerged by those who are working in their own interests and whose interests prevail.
The meaning can be construed to be subtle, so I'd invite you for further consideration on the concept. Here's one:
Pope John XXIII defined the common good as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily" (Pacem in Terris 55). This good is common because only together as a community, and not simply as isolated individuals, is it possible to enjoy, achieve, and spread this good. All people are obligated to work towards making the common good a greater and greater reality.
I don't know how long the feeling of bonhomie that Pope Francis brought into the House Chamber will last. I suspect that soon, if not already, politicians from both sides will parse the Pope's words to find support for their particular viewpoints and opposition to their antagonists. I don't exclude myself from this possible slide into partisanship. So, let's enjoy it while we can.
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