Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Pope Francis has captured the imagination of the whole world. He has certainly been a source of excitement for Roman Catholics. But he is more than just a religious leader. He is one of those “great souls” that transcends religion and nationality. He speaks of the dignity of every human person, and he reminds us that all of us in this world are connected to each other. He is a voice for people from every corner of the world, for people of faith and people of no faith, for immigrants, for workers, for all those in the world who suffer from a global economy that excludes and devalues millions of people. I believe he speaks to all of us at UNITE HERE and to our relationships and our values.
Recently in Bolivia Pope Francis said, “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of people and their ability to organize.” (Sta, Cruz, Bolivia, 2015) Isn’t this at the very heart of our union’s belief? He said on another occasion, “Solidarity, this is a word that frightens the developed world. People try to avoid saying it. Solidarity to them is almost a bad word. But it is our word.” (Rome, 2013) Isn’t he right on with that? Solidarity is our word.
And it’s not only what he says. Look at what he does. Pope Francis made the whole world pay attention to the plight of immigrants when he went to Lampedusa, an island in the Mediterranean near where thousands of immigrants have lost their lives seeking freedom and a chance to provide for their families. Another of his early visits was to a prison, reminding us of the high price of incarceration. On that same visit he washed the feet of prisoners, including men and women, Christians and non-Christians. He has visited with workers, with students, with families. Recently he greeted a Lesbian couple and extended his hands in blessing over them. These are our people. These are the people our union is committed to support and defend. He cares about the things we care about.
Many solidarity events, of course, are planned for Washington, New York and Philadelphia. But also across the country in many cities from September 23-25 there will be vigils of union workers, immigration advocates, environmental advocates, civic, community, and interfaith partners. These gatherings are an opportunity for UNITE HERE members to celebrate our values and show our support for Pope Francis.
I encourage you to join in local vigils and other gatherings. Check with your local advocacy partners to see what is already planned. I encourage those who can to participate in any way you can in the events in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. I hope UNITE HERE will show Pope Francis he has friends and allies here in America. Let’s stand in solidarity with Pope Francis and as he urges us, let us “never tire of working for a more just world.” (Brasil, 2013)
President D. Taylor