Saturday, September 13, 2014
The other day I found myself re-reading Pope Francis’ recent exhortation, Evangelii Gaudiem. In light of last week’s news, the following excerpt jumped out at me where he discusses how we are all invited:
…to receive God’s love and to love him in return with the very love which is his gift, bring[ing] forth in our lives and actions a primary and fundamental response: to desire, seek and protect the good of others.
The message is one which we often take for granted, and can repeat almost mechanically, without necessarily ensuring that it has a real effect on our lives and in our communities. (Evangelii Gaudiem, para. 178)
Later in the document, when more specifically discussing this call to protect the most vulnerable in society, Pope Francis singles out victims of domestic violence. He writes “[d]oubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights.” (Evangelii Gaudiem, para. 212)
As I previously blogged, much of this last week has demonstrated how society has taken for granted, indeed, accepted a certain level of violence against women, thereby negatively “affecting our lives and communities.” However, Thursday also demonstrated how some women senators have engaged in the very actions Pope Francis exhorts us all to do.
A bipartisan group of 16 women senators wrote Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing dismay with the NFL’s “policy” regarding domestic violence. Central to this letter is this most basic but poignant observation:
We are deeply concerned that the NFL’s new policy, announced last month, would allow a player to commit a violent act against a woman and return after a short suspension. If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL.
The NFL is a major American business whose teams split $6 billion in revenue in 2013. I would hope that in most businesses if an employee (let alone a public figure) knocked a co-worker unconscious and was indicted, he would be severely disciplined. This certainly would be true if he beat unconscious a person because of his or her class, religion, or creed. But somehow it is not true if he beat unconscious a person because of her gender. That apparently is more acceptable.
I am pleased that these senators are seeking to help protect women. It is sad, however, that this business needs to be told this basic truth: “If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL.”
A full text of the letter can be found here.