Houstonians meet with Pope Francis

December 13, 2022

VATICAN — An interfaith delegation of 20 leaders and organizers from the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), including members of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) network of Houston, visited with Pope Francis at the Vatican in October. They met with him to share the collective work of broad-based organizing at a time when the pope is guiding the global Church in a historic Synod listening process.

The Holy Father met with the group in his residence for an engaging 90-minute conversation in Spanish. The encounter had many graced moments about both the joys and the struggles of the work of the organization and the work of the Church, past, present and future.
This invitation to meet was due to the recognition of TMO’s work by local bishops, in particular those involved with the “Recognizing the Stranger” effort, which is dedicated to the formation and leadership development of immigrant parishioners. TMO’s involvement in supporting the Synod process in multiple dioceses has helped to bring those in the margins to the center of the synodal dialogue.

IAF members noticed how carefully Pope Francis listened, asked questions and engaged with humor. He told the group: “You constantly use the words ‘to see’ and ‘to listen.’ I am impressed that none of you started with any theory. No one said, ‘I read a book, and that interested me.’ The danger is when you intellectualize a problem.”

He stressed the importance of being with people and paying attention to their reality, emphasizing Amor Concreto, love concretely in action, saying that he understood the organization’s work as seeing and hearing of injustice in the real lives of people, acting to change the situation, and being changed as a result. He expressed his appreciation for the focus on what the organization is doing rather than complaining about what is not being done or disparaging anyone.

Delegation members also met with leadership in the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. For more about the Metropolitan Organization of Houston, visit tmohouston.org.

(Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Organization of Houston)