As Portland remains under the political microscope because of race protests and federal officers, it’s instructive to ponder how Pope Francis might handle a mess like this. The Holy Father has a way of dressing down foes without getting nasty. We can learn from him:

Pope Francis recognizes his own shortcomings. “If I believe I do not have [defects], I cannot condemn or correct others,” the pope said last year. Self-awareness lends authenticity.

He uses short, memorable phrases. Field hospital. Our common home. Smell of the sheep.

Like Jesus with his parables, Pope Francis has called Catholics to be better via crisp and vivid imagery. He always keeps his message brief and he speaks the language of a pastor close to the people.

He knows actions speak loudly. Instead of long chiding encyclicals, the pope has washed the feet of inmates. He said Mass on the shores of Lampedusa with an altar that looks like a migrant’s humble boat. Who can forget him standing alone in the rain in March to pray for deliverance from COVID-19? He knows the evangelizing power of a visual.

Pope Francis is blunt, but holds out the hope for conversion of his targets. One of the pope’s perennial foes is the Italian mafia. “The money from the mafia’s dirty business and crimes is money stained with blood, which leads to an evil power,” Pope Francis said plainly in 2017. But he followed that up with prayer: “I beseech God, just and merciful, to touch the hearts of the men and women in the various mafia organizations, so that they stop, cease doing evil, change paths and adopt a different life.”

As we engage with neighbors about the strife, or hold forth on social media, let’s follow the pope’s lead.