The Pope and Loving Unilaterally

Pope Francis

I was in Philadelphia for the weekend of the Pope’s visit. I didn’t know what to anticipate. Crowds can be scary.

On side streets in plain sight were military men with guns ready for anything. Policeman strutted up and down chatting with passersby. Streets were cleared of traffic for emergency vehicles. There was an orderly readiness.

When the Pope arrived, the city was transformed into love. It was palpable. There were throngs of people eagerly awaiting a chance to fill their eyes with this very special man – a man of God – a man of change. There was a possible count of 860,000 along the Parkway, pushed gently against each other. And, the operant word is “gently”. No one was shoving their way through the crowds. It was a sacred space of reverence. People stood in brother and sister – hood in this city of Brotherly Love.

A city full of human beings who have experienced every kind of pain imaginable to man and instead of anger, they came among themselves with their hearts open to this man of peace and to each other. It was a magnificent place to be.

And I thought of the Pope as he welcomed people – all kinds of people. He welcomed them with love. Judgment was no where to be felt. And, I asked myself, why is it so hard for us to meet each other everyday without judgment? There is no way for us to truly know what someone else has suffered, how someone else thinks, how someone else might need defenses against what he sees as a cold world. And, there we are passing judgment about everything and everyone.

Before him were a sea of human beings who have experienced every kind of pain and challenge; and, instead of anger and fear, they came and stood with their own hearts open to this man of peace – and to each other. It was a magnificent place to be.

I want to live in a kinder, gentler world where we greet each other with openness, where we accept the humanity in each other – the weaknesses, the strengths. We are all wounded warriors in a difficult lifetime, trying to do the best we can with who we are at any given moment.

The Pope was a reminder, his presence invited our humility. Why do we need a reminder? Why are we not in that space of welcome towards those who suffer and strive and succeed and fail – right along side of us? Our self-absorption, our greed, our individual needs and desires become an entitlement, when we should be united to create a world of peace and mutual respect.

Will it ever be possible to live in a world without fear and anger? Will it ever be possible for human beings to live what they preach? Could we just stop and notice the person next to us and know that they are living their challenges and their pain, just as we?

Like an old song: “Where is the love?” Why do we need to wait until the Pope comes to remind us?

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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on

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