Laudato Si and the American Catholic Church

Earlier this month, Catholic University hosted a conference on Laudato Si and the American Catholic Church. The conference included a public panel, moderated by Maria Mazzenga of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, that featured Julie Sullivan, President, University of St. Thomas; John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, Georgetown University; and Kevin Irwin, Department of Theology and Religious, The Catholic University of America. Here are some highlights of their remarks:

John Carr

  • I initially saw environmental issues as an elite focus compared to other social justice issues, but JP2 changed that.
  • Over time, I came to see the connection between the climate/environment and the poor.
  • Care for creation is traditional not trendy. Rooted in old values: prudence, modesty, humility, sacrifice, restraint.
  • Environmental issues are moral and human issues not just technical and political.
  • Climate change is not an abstraction. People are paying for it with their lives and their homes.
  • If you’re in a parish around the country and you care about these issues, where do you go? Catholic Climate Covenant.
  • Church’s assets for addressing climate change: relationships, leaders, and tens of millions of Catholics.
  • Our approach should be authentic, distinctively Catholic, principled (not ideological), respectful, and a voice for the voiceless.
  • Catholics must practice what we preach as consumers, investors, etc. when it comes to climate change.

Kevin Irwin

  • Pope Francis always puts the pastoral approach first. This shapes Laudato Si.
  • The language of Laudato Si is care not stewardship.
  • If there is one word that this papacy is all about it’s “poverty” and that comes through in Laudato Si.
  • Integral ecology is the strongest, richest theological contribution.
  • Laudato Si is a quintessential Catholic document.
  • Laudato Si is meant to touch our hearts and change our lives not just speak to our minds.
  • Pope Francis always says look at the reality around you, the impact on the person.

Julie Sullivan

  • We need people creating innovative, sustainable approaches to environmental problems.
  • Colleges should help come up w/ these scientific, business, etc. solutions, but must teach a commitment to the common good.


Pope Francis Delivers Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-Poor Message

Pope Francis recently spoke to members of the pro-life movement in Italy, delivering another whole life message:

The Pope said in the existential dynamics, everything is interrelated and we need to nurture personal and social sensitivity, both towards welcoming a new life and towards those situations of poverty and exploitation that affect the weakest and most disadvantaged.

Quoting from his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis asked how can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable human beings, if we fail to protect a human embryo? As disciples of Christ, helping a wounded human life means reaching out to all people in need, putting ourselves by their side and sharing their fragility and their pain. How many families and old and young people, he said, are vulnerable because of poverty, sickness, the lack of a job or a home.

Comparing the pro-life supporters to good Samaritans, the Pope noted that when faced with the various threats to human life they have stayed close to their most fragile neighbors to ensure that none of the many people living in precarious situations are excluded or discarded by society. He urged them to continue their work protecting the unborn but also the many people who are seeking a healthier and more dignified existence.

In conclusion, Pope Francis reminded his listeners that we need to promote and defend the family, above all when it concerns the gift of children and affirming the dignity of women.

America Magazine Interviews Christopher Hale

America has a new interview with Millennial co-founder Christopher Hale:

What was your impression of the pope’s recent U.S. visit?

We are a nation in dire need of Pope Francis and his prophetic message. I had the honor of walking with Francis throughout the entire American journey, and my sense was that for all the expectations that people had of this trip, Pope Francis miraculously surpassed them. I think he has reset the conversation around 2016 election. We had gotten caught up in a political sideshow—the thick of thin things. But now people are starting to talk again about the things that matter.

Perhaps Pope Francis’ biggest miracle is that for one week I didn’t see Donald Trump on television. Instead, I saw a nation rallying around this prophetic leader and his call for us to be a nation that is faithful to its founding and continues to be a nation that is for everyone a land of dreams.

If you could say one thing to Pope Francis right now, what would it be?

Pray for me. Pray that I’m a humble steward of the Gospel. Pray that I take up your invitation to share the joy of knowing Jesus.

Who are your role models in the faith either living or dead?

We’ve been talking a lot about Pope Francis, but my friends joke that if I had a biography it would be called “In Defense of Benedict.” I always found Benedict XVI to be a man of God who was incredibly inspiring. Though the media dubbed him “God’s Rottweiler,” he was a loving and steady pastor of the church during a turbulent time. His first encyclical “God is Love,” is one of the best essays I’ve ever read.

If you’re a fan of the Francis Revolution, then you should love Benedict, because he fired the first shot. His decision to resign was one of the most heroic acts in the history of the Catholic Church. What modern leader steps down, without a revolution or coup, voluntarily? He paved the way for the Francis revolution. His decision said that he cared more about the church than about his own power. History has a strange balancing power, and history will treat Benedict well—perhaps even better than Francis

Read the full interview here.


Cardinal O’Malley Endorses Catholic Climate Petition

via Brian Roewe at NCR:

The Global Catholic Climate Movement announced Friday that Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has become the latest prelate to sign their Catholic Climate Petition, joining 20 individual bishops, more than 200 Catholic organizations and more than 600,000 people from around the world.

The list of supporters includes Pope Francis, who in May endorsed the petition, though a papal representative signed on his behalf due to protocol preventing popes from individually signing such documents.

The petition seeks for global leaders attending the United Nations climate change conference, or COP 21, to reach agreement on a deal to collectively address climate change. The conference opens Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 11. A deal is expected to bind each country to pledges to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and for developed countries to provide financing and assistance to underdeveloped countries in transitioning to clean energy technology and adopting mechanisms to both mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

The climate petition reads:

“Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people among us. Inspired by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si’ encyclical, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”

O’Malley is the second U.S. bishop to sign the petition, and the first active head of a diocese. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., has also signed the plea….

Notable international bishop signers include Tagle, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, and Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

You join Cardinal Sean, these other great Catholic leaders, and hundreds of thousands of others by signing the petition here.


Pope Francis on Christian Humanism

One of Millennial’s themes is Christian humanism, which rejects nihilism, relativism, and quietism, among other temptations for contemporary believers and non-believers alike. Here are some highlights of Pope Francis’ speech on the subject in Florence:

  • We can speak of humanism only from the centrality of Jesus, discovering in Him the features of man’s authentic face. It is the contemplation of the face of Jesus dead and risen that reconstructs our humanity.
  • I do not wish to design here, in the abstract, a “new humanism,” a certain idea of man, but to present with simplicity some traits of Christian humanism, which is that of the “sentiments of Christ Jesus.”
  • The first sentiment is humility….The obsession to keep one’s glory, one’s “dignity,” one’s influence must not be part of our sentiments. We must pursue God’s glory and this does not coincide with ours. God’s glory, which shines in the humility of the cave of Bethlehem and the dishonor of the cross of Christ always surprises us.
  • Another sentiment of Christ that gives shape to Christian humanism is unselfishness….A Christian’s humanity is always outgoing. It is not narcissistic, self-referential….Our duty is to work and struggle to make this world a better place. Our faith is revolutionary by an impulse that comes from the Holy Spirit. We must follow this impulse to come out of ourselves, to be men according to Jesus’ Gospel.  May  life be decided on the capacity to give oneself. It is there that it transcends itself, that it arrives at being fruitful.
  • A further sentiment of Christ Jesus is that of A Christian is a blessed, if he has in himself the joy of the Gospel. The Lord points out the way to us in the Beatitudes. By following it we human beings can attain an authentically more human and divine happiness.
  • These traits tell us that we must not be obsessed by “power.”
  • A Church that has these traits – humility, unselfishness, beatitude – is a Church that is able to recognize the Lord’s action in the world, in the culture, in the daily life of the people. I have said it more than once and I repeat it again to you today: I prefer a bumpy, wounded and soiled Church for having gone out through the streets, rather than a sick Church because she is closed in the comfortableness of holding on to her own certainties. I do not want a Church concerned to be at the center and that ends up enclosed in a tangle of obsessions and procedures (Evangelii Gaudium, 49).
  • Pelagianism leads us to have trust in the structures, in the organizations, in the plans, which are perfect because abstract. Often it even leads us to assume a style of control, of hardness, of normativity. The norm gives to the Pelagian the security of feeling superior, of having a precise orientation. He finds his strength in this, not in the lightness of the Spirit’s breath. In the face of the evils or problems of the Church it is useless to seek solutions in conservatism and fundamentalism, in the restoration of surmounted conduct and forms that do not even have culturally the capacity to be significant.
  • A second temptation to overcome is that of Gnosticism. It leads to trust in logical and clear reasoning, which, however, loses the tenderness of the brother’s flesh.
  • Please, do not look at life from the balcony, but commit yourselves, immerse yourselves in the wide social and political dialogue. May the hands of your faith be raised to Heaven, but may they do so while building a city constructed on relations in which the love of God is the foundation. And thus you will be free to accept today’s challenges, to live the changes and the transformations.
  • The Christian humanism you are called to live affirms radically the dignity of every person… it establishes between every human being an essential fraternity, it teaches to understand work, to inhabit Creation as a common home, it furnishes reasons for joy and humor… in the midst of a life that is so often hard.

Is Donald Trump Embracing Nazi-like Policies?

There is a rich tradition of dumb comparisons to Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. This leads some to set aside these comparisons entirely. But there are certain circumstances where such comparisons are quite clearly useful for illustrating the gravity of the situation at hand: when mass atrocities are occurring, genocide or ethnic cleansing is being carried out, or vicious anti-Semitic tropes are being recycled, for instance. Republican presidential candidate (and frontrunner) Donald Trump is now toying with and openly embracing policies that naturally conjure up comparisons with the Nazis:

In an interview with Yahoo News, the Republican presidential candidate said the U.S. would have to “do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago,” and refused to rule out warrantless searches, registering Muslims in a national database, or even requiring them to carry a special form of identification.

In that interview, Trump didn’t explicitly say he favored such policies, but later in the day he doubled down, clarifying to NBC News that he would “certainly implement” a database system to track Muslims in the U.S., and more. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he said.

When NBC repeatedly asked him to explain the difference between his proposal and the registration of Jews in Nazi Germany, Trump’s only answer was: “You tell me.” Read More