By Cash Michaels of The Wilmington Journal
In an exclusive interview, Dr. William J. Barber, II, currently president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of “moral, workers’ rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates…” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.
Dr. Barber gave his permission Sunday for the news of his Vatican visit to be released now. He received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.
“[The Pope] wants to bless this movement and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Barber said then indicating that he would give his permission for it to be revealed in November.
Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down in October after 12 years as president of the NCNAACP, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.
It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign caught the attention of, not only national but international, social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world renowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.
Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1500 from Italy, Poland and France.
The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “a great sin.”
“It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it,” Pope Francis said. “God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation but whether we did some good.”
Dr. Barber’s organization, Repairers of the Breach, “…seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in the framework that uplifts our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country,” it says on its website.
“Our deepest moral traditions point to equal protection under the law, the desire for peace within and among nations, the dignity of all people, and the responsibility to care for our common home.”