Five years ago, in September 2015, Pope Francis visited our country and spoke to Congress, delivering a speech that recalled four “great” Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Each of them was animated by a dream—for equality, for justice, for care for the oppressed, and for a spirit of dialogue and peace. Francis tied these dreams to ongoing struggles for racial justice, care for the earth, welcoming the stranger at our borders, and global solidarity.
He could not have anticipated all that has transpired in the past years, nor how poignant his vision would appear today in the midst of a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and protests around the unfinished business of racial justice. And yet he spoke directly to the question of what makes a country “great”—precisely when it attends to the dreams and fundamental values of the Americans he invoked.
Four new books speak to those values. In Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation and the Common Good Sister Simone Campbell, best known for her work with “Nuns on the Bus,” describes the vision and spiritual practices—the “hunger for hope”--that can sustain us in our