The Daily Gamecock

In our opinion: Pope Francis inspires during American trip

Pope Francis' visit to America over the last few days has moved us to reflect on the intersection of faith, values and politics.

Two things come to mind when we discussed the pontiff's visit: the religious rally earlier this school year at the State House, and Pope John Paul II's visit to USC when he was the pope. 

The pope received a great deal of praise and criticism for mixing politics and religion by accepting an invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress. We believe he did his church a service by speaking out on the key political and moral issues of the time through the lens of his faith. While those who held the State House rally earlier this year claimed to be doing just that, their message was one of division and stood in contrast to the pontiff's theme of unity. Rather than focusing on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion that have the potential to tear people apart, the pope has striven to appeal to our common humanity while not shying away from controversy for the sake of political correctness.

Much like John Paul II before him, Pope Francis has pushed his church to be more welcoming and has changed public perception of Catholicism and Christianity, especially among our generation, for the better. John Paul told our campus in 1987 to "prepare yourselves to make your own contributions to society." As we strive to make those contributions, we are inspired by the current pontiff's example of leadership. He has worked for change while respecting tradition and has at every turn represented the best of his church.