Beliefs Institutions

‘Walk with Francis Pledge’ urges Washingtonians to do a good deed ahead of papal trip

Catholic Charities President and CEO Rev. Msgr. John Enzler speaks at the Walk with Francis Pledge Launch (July 22) in front of the Catholic Charities Headquarters.
Catholic Charities President and CEO Monsignor John Enzler speaks at the Walk with Francis Pledge Launch (July 22) in front of the Catholic Charities Headquarters. Photo by Sara Weissman.
Catholic Charities President and CEO Rev. Msgr. John Enzler speaks at the Walk with Francis Pledge Launch (July 22) in front of the Catholic Charities Headquarters.

Catholic Charities President and CEO Monsignor John Enzler speaks at the Walk with Francis Pledge Launch (July 22) in front of the Catholic Charities Headquarters. Photo by Sara Weissman.

WASHINGTON (RNS) Standing beside a statue called “Homeless Jesus,” Monsignor John Enzler pledged to spend a night with the city’s homeless before Pope Francis’ visit in September.

Enzler, who is president of Catholic Charities, made the vow as part of Wednesday’s (July 22) launch of the “Walk with Francis Pledge,” a campaign by the Washington archdiocese and Catholic Charities to get 100,000 people  to take on a good deed in preparation for the pope’s visit.


READ: 10 US mayors join Pope Francis in pledging to combat climate change, trafficking


While most of those attending the campaign’s launch were affiliated with Catholic Charities, the idea is to mobilize lay people in the D.C. area to take on prayers, social action projects or community service, building on the momentum of Francis’ first apostolic visit to the U.S.

“One of the beautiful gifts of Pope Francis is his ability to include everybody, and this effort to ‘Walk with Francis’ includes everyone who wants to be a part of it,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington. “Everybody can do a good deed for a brother or sister.”

As people make pledges on the campaign’s website and social media, they are encouraged to post photos and videos of their pledges in action, using the hashtag #WalkwithFrancis, then challenge a friend to do the same. The pledges will be collected in a book and presented to Pope Francis when he visits Catholic Charities on Sept. 24.

Among those excited by the pope’s upcoming arrival was Catholic Charities Corporate Controller Fred Sarran, whose bright blue yarmulke, or skullcap, stood out in the crowd of nearly 50. Sarran, who is Jewish, pledged to continue working with the homeless and, more specifically, to volunteer at a homeless shelter on Christmas so Christian volunteers can be with family, in honor of the pope’s visit.

“He’s wonderful,” said Sarran. “(His) outward-looking inclusiveness is wonderful. And I think more people, more religious leaders, more politicians should be that way and reach out.”

So far, seven organizations and 36 individuals, not including those who pledged publicly at the launch event, have made pledges, according to an ongoing tally on walkwithfrancis.org.

YS/MG END WEISSMAN

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Sara Weissman

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  • A non-believer as the corporate controller in a supposedly Christian charity? If that isn’t a red flag I’m not sure what is. If Francis really wants to make a difference, he should come to America and preach the truth he suppresses: that the grace of God is a free and unmerited gift, accessed and secured eternally by believing in the Son of God and His atoning sacrifice (Acts 16:31, John 3:16, Romans 10:9). Salvation isn’t about social justice, as important as that may be. It’s not about making people feel good about themselves. None of us is righteous (Romans 3:23) and doing good deeds for one another isn’t going to get people any closer to seeing the need to turn to the savior lest they die in their sin. Twenty years as a Catholic and that’s all they want to talk about on Sunday morning. Social justice. This charity. That charity. That’s great and all but guess how many times I heard I was a hell bound sinner who needed the truth? You guessed it…0.

  • My husband and I are members of Charles County Right to Life and pledge to volunteer at the Charles County Fair in the Right to LIfe booth to encourage people to respect life, especially of the unborn. We also are sitting our two year old grandson so our daughter and her husband (who are expecting a second child) can have some time to themselves before the big event.

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