Peace Requires Interfaith Solidarity

On September 20th, Pope Francis joined thousands of pilgrims in Assisi for the World Day of Prayer for Peace.  This event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the gathering that brought together pilgrims from all over the globe and invited the world’s religions to join their hearts, minds, and hands in becoming peacemakers.  At that gathering in 1986, Pope John Paul II highlighted the “common nature, a common origin and a common destiny” of all people and called for collaboration between individuals and nations to forge common ground in a shared aspiration for peace.  John Paul II urged that this work be undertaken through prayer, humility, and “a commitment to serve all.”  He also acknowledged that Christians are required to complete acts of penance for the sins of omission and commission that have kept them from answering the call to be peacemakers in the world.

Pope Francis echoed these sentiments and spoke of the need “to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.”  In what seems to be a denunciation of the ideology of ISIS, Francis continued by stating: “We recognize the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer protects the world and enlightens it.  God’s name is peace.  The one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war does not follow God’s path.  War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.  With firm resolve, therefore, let us reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit.”

Francis emphasized the need for “a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life.”  Despite these large-scale problems, the pope called on each and all to take up the practices of praying for peace, encountering others with respect, and joining in dialogue.  “Everyone,” Francis insisted, “can be an artisan of peace.”

Francis’ words speak to the desires of so many people today who long for peace (or, as the hashtag goes, #ThirstforPeace).  His call to be peacemakers resonates through Scripture, from the Beatitudes (Mt 5:9) to the apostle Paul’s description of what it means to be Christian as being “ambassadors of Christ,” charged with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-21).  Discipleship pivots on the work of peace-making—healing wounds, restoring right-relationship, and forging unity across diversity—continuing to heed the Jewish teaching (in the Mishnah) that holds followers of Yahweh accountable for the work of tikkun olam, “to repair the world.” Read More

An Interview with US Senate Candidate Caroline Fayard of Louisiana

Caroline Fayard is one the top candidates in this year’s US Senate race in Louisiana, currently polling first among Democrats in the race. Millennial editor Robert Christian asked her about her views on public service, her faith, and more in the following interview.

13177650_466657920125363_28935814584246378_nWhy are you running for the Senate?

Growing up in Livingston Parish, I have been very fortunate to have parents who never set limits for me. They told my brother and me the same thing, which I think is important for young people to hear – you can be whatever you want to be in this life. It was with their voices in mind that I was able to become valedictorian of my high school class at Episcopal in Baton Rouge, established my very own law practice in Louisiana, and helped start GLO Airlines based in New Orleans. I never let doubts about my drive or capabilities as a woman stand in my way. I let them motivate me.

I’ve been fortunate for my blessings, but I’ve also seen a lot of hardship that Louisiana has endured during my lifetime. I’ve lived through the struggles that we’ve all had to overcome as a community: the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, the BP Oil Spill, and the mismanagement of our state government by Bobby Jindal. And our challenges are not over. Now we’re facing the highest gender wage gap in the nation, the highest incarceration rate, and failing marks in education, all the while tackling the tremendous challenge that the historic floods have brought upon our state in part by climate change. Louisiana needs a new voice and a new generation of leadership to face these challenges. It will take forward thinkers to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

I am running because we need a new generation of leadership.   A new direction and a new approach in Washington.  And I am proud to be one of the only women in this race.  It’s important for me to represent the folks out there who are tired of the same old political games being played by my opponents. I believe it’s time for a new generation to stop playing the same political games of the past 40 years and go to work to make sure Louisiana is a great state for this generation and the next. That is why I am running.

I first heard about your campaign at the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award reception, where Gov. John Bel Edwards was the recipient. Does that ‘whole life’ approach reflect your approach to human life and dignity? What role does protecting the vulnerable play in your approach to politics?

I find the “whole life” approach refreshing because in today’s 24-hour political news cycle, folks tend to focus in on certain issues or one aspect of issues without taking into account the meaning or symbolism behind the policies. If we truly care about life, we need to focus on human lives holistically, both in terms of their quality and vitality. It breaks my heart to constantly see Louisiana near the bottom in education and poverty year after year. And I truly believe that most, if not all, people want to work, want to better their lives, but often they are not given the chances or the resources early on to succeed. In order to help folks better their lives, to make our state more economically vibrant, we need to come together and do our best to provide the resources needed for development in all communities, not just the few.

How does your Catholic faith influence you as a person and how you approach public service?

As Catholics, it is important to always challenge ourselves to reflect on the world through the lens of social justice, and I believe a large component of that starts with understanding others. I do my best to keep this perspective, to listen to others when they are talking, and to truly hear their point of view. In politics, it is so easy to get caught up in partisanship and labels, but behind every Democrat or Republican, there are usually people who want to help, want to do right by people. I do my best to always see issues from the other’s perspective. Read More

Catholic at 30: Renewing My Sense of Wonder

Millennial writer Mike Jordan Laskey has a new article at NCR. He writes:

Sometimes, I reflect on why I’m still here when a lot of my Catholic friends have drifted away. When I was in high school, I started to hunger for meaning, as many kids that age do: What am I here on Earth for? Why this church and not another church or no church? What is true? Why is the world so unjust? Is God even real? My parish had this amazing youth minister named Sean who wasn’t afraid to take on these big questions, and we talked about them in church meeting rooms, on carpool rides to a service project, and on retreats. These conversations were the soundtrack to the activities we participated in, and it was through this combination of thinking, talking, and acting that I discovered the Catholic church to be a beautiful community that had been asking and trying to answer the same questions for a couple millennia. I found that my own tradition was compelling and relevant, and this belief has stuck.

In the everydayness of life as a 30-year-old husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor, and worker, it’s easy to lose the excitement I found in the church half my life ago. I think my main religious project for my years north of 30 should be renewing this sense of wonder, which might have been what Jesus was talking about when he said you need faith like a child’s to enter the kingdom of heaven. Or, in 21st-century words: Age is just a number, stop obsessing, live with joy.

You can read the full article here.


‘Loser Letters’: Faith Making Culture

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

While the subject matter and the themes explored can often prove grim, The Loser Letters is ultimately a tale of hope-offering D.C. an unexpected form of redemption during an otherwise depressing election year cycle.

Like the works of Havel and Wojtyla, The Loser Letters is experimental and uses a non-conventional narrative as a vehicle for probing a young woman’s worldview that is relativistic, reductionist, materialistic, and ultimately devoid of any real hope.

At the heart of the play is a mediation on Oxford scholar Alister McGrath’s key question: “Does religious belief damage the health of a society, or is it necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society?”

In seeking to answer this question, the play serves as a new form of apologetics for the Facebook and Instagram generation. Moreover, it’s a counter-cultural alternative to plays like The Vagina Monologues, The Laramie Project, or The Book of Mormon that often ridicules or caricatures people of faith.

Regrettably, traditional believers have largely abandoned the realm of theater in recent years and surrendered the task of culture making to those intent on relegating them to the wings. But in breaking the rules of the game, as Havel observed, The Loser Letters is penning a different-and winning-strategy.

You can read the full article here.


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “The fight against poverty is not merely a technical economic problem, but above all a moral one, calling for global solidarity and the development of more equitable approaches to the concrete needs and aspirations of individuals and peoples worldwide.”