My epiphany of this past weekend did not blind me to the challenges Pope Francis’ papacy presents. Specifically, because his style is profoundly welcoming and he is so committed to bringing home the prodigal, his more pastoral style can be easily twisted by people who’s agenda runs contrary to the Church. Instead of complaining about this, [Read More...]
The Deacon’s Bench
I love this story:
Hosts of a cancelled wedding donated an elaborate reception to Atlanta’s homeless last Sunday.
Carol and Willie Fowler teamed up with Hosea Feed the Hungry, a local organization serving families in need, to turn the wedding-that-wasn’t into the first annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love, feeding 200 unexpected guests.
“We’re very pleased that she’s handling it so well,” Carol Fowler told Here & Now about her daughter. “She was also very delighted to see and know that others had an opportunity to enjoy something, rather than just allow it to go to waste.”
Elizabeth Omilami, head of Hosea Feed the Hungry, told Here & Now that the children who attended the event will never forget it.
“The passed hors d’oeuvre were very interesting because the children were wondering, ‘could we take the whole tray, or do we just take one off of the tray?’” Omilami said. “So this was an educational opportunity as well, because now they all know how to eat at a four-course meal and the etiquette involved in that.”
September 24, 2013
But Francis isn’t the first to have used the phrase “a poor church of the poor.” It’s also been employed in a positive fashion by figures ranging from the father of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez, to critics of Marxist-versions of the same theology. In a 2011 meeting with German Catholic lay associations, for instance, Benedict XVI challenged the very wealthy—and notoriously bureaucratized—German Church to embrace poverty. By this, Benedict meant the Church detaching itself from “worldliness” in order to achieve “liberation from material and political burdens and privileges,” thereby breaking free of the institutional-maintenance mindset that plagues contemporary German Catholicism and opening itself “in a truly Christian way to the whole world.”
Going back in time, it was another pope, Blessed John XXIII, who brought the term “the church of the poor” to prominence. But as far as unpacking its meaning is concerned, perhaps the first to do so was one of the twentieth-century’s best Catholic theologians, the Jesuit Jean Daniélou (1905-1974). Understanding how important the expression would be after Vatican II, Daniélou devoted a chapter in his 1965 book, L’Oraison, problème politique (Prayer as a Political Problem), to clarifying the meaning of “l’église des pauvres.”
Daniélou brought unique perspectives and experiences to this question. The son of a politician from an anti-clerical family (who wasn’t baptized until his twenties) and an aristocratic mother (a formidable Catholic intellectual in her own right), Daniélou was famed for his independence of thought. When many French Catholics opted for Marshal Pétain and Vichy in 1940, for example, Daniélou chose Charles de Gaulle and Free France. Viewed with suspicion before Vatican II, Daniélou served as a peritus at the 21st ecumenical council because of his contribution to reviving patristic studies.
by Steven D. Greydanus Friday, September 20, 2013 3:08 PM
In fact, in less than 24 hours, it seems there’ve been at least three different headlines for the same story: an inflammatory headline, a more moderate one, and then a crazy, go-for-broke moonbat insane headline.
The original headline (still preserved in the article URL) was bad enough:
Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion
After that, for some reason, in an apparent fit of moderation, a more accurate headline was substituted:
Pope, Criticizing Narrow Focus, Calls for Church as ‘Home for All’
Well, of course that wouldn’t do. At this writing, the current headline—apparently the one that ran in the print edition—is more ludicrously over the top than the original:
Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control
That’s not all. The lede has changed too.
In at least some previous version the story claimed that the pope said the Church has “grown ‘obsessed’ with a limited agenda and that it should seek a ‘new balance’ to make it more welcoming.”
Now, though, the lede is much more explicit about that “limited agenda”: The pope now says that the Church has “grown ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics.”
Well. Clearly someone’s obsessed with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. But I don’t think it’s the Church.
|A faithful tosses in the air a jersey with the colors of the Argentine flag as Pope Francis greets faithful upon arrival for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS2013)|
|Sept. 18, 2013: Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (AP)|
|Pope Francis waves as he boards the plane after a week-long trip to Brazil, on July 28, 2013. Pope Francis on Thursday lashed out at what he called the scandal of “airport bishops”, urging his peers to remain rooted in their dioceses and spend less time seeking the spotlight. (AFP/File)|
The Catholic Church – or at least those preachers and teachers who are outspoken on matters concerning human sexuality, especially when catechetical discussions are turned into clashes in the public square for political or cultural reasons – is often accused of being obsessed with sex. But the obsession might just be the media’s.
Consider, for instance the wide-ranging interview given by Pope Francis that has just been published in several Jesuit publications, including America magazine here in the United States. It is over 10,000 words. A few paragraphs involve homosexuality and abortion. And yet homosexuality and abortion were what the New York Times chose to lead their news report on the interview with.
The interview is Pope Francis’s first extensive public conversation since becoming pope about his own vocational call to serve God – for example, we are told that Jorge Mario Bergoglio considered joining the Dominicans, and why he needs the discipline of the religious life. He further explains why he as pope has chosen to live at the Vatican’s guest house: His desire for community. (He explains that the papal apartment is not luxurious, but it is isolated.)
The interview gives some context to his daily pleas to the faithful and, as we saw in his letter to the G-20 and four-hour prayer vigil for peace earlier this month, to every man and woman in the world. It is reintroducing what some refer to as the project of the New Evangelization, and with the most inviting, non-jargony language.
Francis talks about the Church as a “field hospital after battle.” He talks about the need for the church “to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He says: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.”
Many people are interpretating this interview — along with the interview the pope gave on his plane ride back to Rome from Rio after praying with some three million youth in Brazil — as the pope hitting “reset.”
The metaphor works.