Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
In taking the name Pope Francis, the new pontiff made a conscious decision that reflects two different aspects of spirituality. He is a Jesuit, an order that embraces the intellect, but he also has invoked the Franciscan ideal of care for the poor. One is the head, the other the heart.
The two Catholic orders haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on things – but together they mirror qualities important to any successful faith tradition. Complexity and simplicity — attention to charity and selfless service as well as to doctrine and intellectual discernment.
With the formal start of his papacy on Tuesday, Pope Francis faces considerable challenges within the Catholic church. But as the leader of the world’s largest Christian church, with 1.2 billion members worldwide, the pope has influence beyond the boundaries of the church itself. How should he use it?
What is one piece of advice you would give the new pope? What single thing could he do to make a tangible difference to you and the people you know? If the pope asked, what would you tell him he should do?
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
I would advise the pope to teach a clear and definitive understanding of the self and teach how to act according to that understanding. Understanding the self/soul allows one to have proper discernment of where to put one’s compassion. For example, saving the coat of a drowning man is not as important as saving the man himself.
If we do not understand the difference between the body and the soul, or the difference between a living body and a dead body, our knowledge and actions will be quite limited.