What Do the Pope and Dr. Seuss Have in Common?

"True mercy, the mercy God gives to us and teaches us, demands justice; it demands that the poor find the way to be poor no longer." - Pope Francis in "The Church of Mercy"
In celebration of the release of Pope Francis’s book, The Church of Mercy, several of our dotMagis bloggers will be sharing reflections this month based on the words of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has shared with the world his own inner Dr. Seuss. It’s not that he is speaking in rhyme or teaching children to count, but he is using his words to paint images of a world previously beyond imagination, a world of belief in something not only beyond us, but within us—each and every one of us.

Pope Francis and Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) both believe in this fantastical world in which each person truly has unlimited potential. I can almost hear a homily from the papal balcony including the Dr. Seuss line, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Rich or poor it makes no difference. The world is waiting to be graced by your brilliance. In their view, every person has within him- or herself the capacity to thrive and gifts to share with the world.

But what if you really don’t have any shoes on your feet? What if you are living in a refugee camp with no school to engage that brain in your head?

Well, in Francis’ fantastical world, you see, there are other creatures too, who simply wouldn’t let this be.
The pope believes all people have within them the call to share the mercy of God. This mercy is not just about forgiving people or being compassionate and charitable. Mercy also means demanding justice for those whose potential is blocked, clearing that pathway for them to fully thrive. Through direct service, accompaniment of the poor, and defending human rights, this “fantastical” world of mercy can be realized. In the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Both Pope Francis and Dr. Seuss make us all want to believe not only in the sacredness of every life, but in our own capacity to serve it.

And so I ask you, Is this fantastical world really so odd? Or is it just another vision of the Kingdom of God?

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Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly is a wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate living in Omaha, Nebraska. She works to help organizations integrate spirituality into their planning and systems. She and her husband, Tom, completed the 19th Annotation in 2005, just prior to spending two years living in the Dominican Republic with their three young children, supporting the work of the Jesuit Institute for Latin American Concern. Additionally they have lived in El Salvador and Bolivia for extended periods.


  1. What a beautiful comparison. And true too. Thinking about Heaven being a ‘fantastical’ place which can be lived right here on our planet is mind-blowing – and a great challenge to offer to all: young and old alike. Thanks for sharing this!


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