NCR's new blog series "5 minutes with Francis" poses the question: If you managed to meet up with Pope Francis during his U.S. visit -- and you had his full, undivided attention for five minutes -- what would you say to him?
First, I'd express my gratitude for Francis' compassionate spirit and his care and concern for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.
Then I would beg him (probably down on my knees) to think seriously about the effect the church's ban on birth control has on the poorest of the poor.
All over our world there are Catholic married couples so poor they wake up every day not knowing if they will be able to get enough food to keep their children from starving. There may be no work. Or they are not paid enough to live. Or they have lost their land to those who wish to exploit it for gain.
Without effective birth control, these couples, who already suffer so much, cannot make love without great fear they will bring into the world another child who will suffer — and perhaps die — because they do not have the means to care for him or her. The result is that they are — in effect — deprived of the pleasure and closeness of sexual love. This is a tragedy, Holy Father, and it is one you personally can remedy.
I'd remind him that in 1966, Pope Paul VI's own birth control commission voted overwhelmingly to lift the prohibition on contraceptives. And that the pope, acting on his own, ignored the recommendation and reaffirmed the ban.
I would plead with Francis, perhaps even with tears, to think about those poor couples and make a new decision in line with the love and compassion of Christ.
Then, with his permission and the tender new understanding of conjugal love it would demonstrate, the wonderful international Catholic charitable organizations could provide poor women everywhere with the means to limit their family size, something most could not afford on their own.
Finally, I’ll ask him to think about how so many lives could be changed for the better with just the stroke of his pen.
It’s hard for me to imagine how Francis, with that big heart of his, will be able to ignore my plea.
What would you say during five minutes with Pope Francis? Pick one subject, and send us a brief note (300-400 words max) about the subject, and what you would say. Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.