Many Catholics pick and choose which issues they agree with, but one thing is clear, environmental and human rights problems continue to plague society, largely because too many politicians are afraid to resolve them.
Regardless of your position on important political issues, the moral voice and influence of the pope always elevates the discussion to a higher and more enlightened level. His message is neither partisan, petty, divisive nor contentious. The International Conference at the Vatican, where mayors and world leaders are discussing global climate change and human trafficking, is a clear example of the important mission that the Catholic Church plays in society today.
Many Catholics pick and choose which issues they agree with, but one thing is clear, environmental and human rights problems continue to plague society, largely because too many politicians are afraid to resolve them. They are intimidated by the opposition of powerful lobbies and special interest groups. After listening to Pope Francis talk July 21 about the poverty of human sexual trafficking and a declining environment, I wondered why world leaders and American political officials haven't had the courage to speak out before and enact laws to protect children from prostitution, sexual trafficking, abuse and pornography.
Another question which immediately comes to mind is, why have major corporations been allowed to destroy our environment and jeopardize the health and well-being of the public? What Pope Francis said is not new. We know the devastation of smuggling children into various countries for sexual exploitation. We also can see how the health of people who live near dirty factories, contaminated rivers and unhealthy neighborhoods often results in disease and high death rates.
But what is especially important about this Vatican conference is where it is being held and who has convened it. I was asked today on national television, how important is this Vatican conference and why was Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston invited? I responded, "I have participated in world conferences at the Vatican over the years, and whether it was on Adult Stem Cells, nutrition and medicine or the rights of workers, the issues received extraordinary attention which resulted in a greater public awareness. The issue could no longer be ignored. Mayor Walsh was invited because he has been in the forefront of the sexual exploitation issue and human trafficking, as well as efforts to protect our environment.
This is a proud day for our city and our mayor.
RAY FLYNN IS THE FORMER MAYOR OF BOSTON AND U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN.
Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and Mayor of Boston.