Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza on Poverty, Structural Sin, Nuns, and a Broader Pro-Life Agenda

Faith in Public Life’s John Gehring recently interviewed Joseph Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Gehring asked a superb set of questions, and the Archbishop responded with equally excellent answers. Here are some of the highlights of the Archbishop’s responses:

  • The Pope seems to want a Church that is inclusive and out in the world, a Church going to the peripheries, a Church that is involved in the truly human problems that are affecting so many, especially the problems of poverty.
  • Bishops have a lot to learn from him, especially his lifestyle. He has made a deliberate effort to distance himself from the imperial court of Rome. Bishops have to take a close look at ourselves to see how we can live more simply.
  • The Pope’s very clear teaching condemning the “economy of exclusion” and the structures of sin that are involved strikes at the heart of some conservative Catholics who are so wedded to the unfettered free market that they think the Pope’s talk is naïve. Well, the Pope sees it as realistic. The poor of the world who suffer from that type of economic philosophy see it as realistic. The Pope is on a steady course. He is not naïve. He knows what he is doing.
  • The Pope is saying we have to oppose abortion but there must be a broader agenda. Some pro-life advocates don’t like to hear that and think if you take the focus off abortion you weaken your position. The Pope is saying you weaken your pro-life position when you don’t take a broader view of issues that attack human life.
  • Some people think there are only sins that are intrinsic evil, but the Pope is saying the economy has built in a structure that strongly impacts against the humanity of people and that is an evil too.
  • Hopefully, we will begin to see in Faithful Citizenship more emphasis on what Francis is saying about the poor. That will be a sign of how well Francis’ influence is taking root among the bishops of the United States.
  • I also think when young people see we are in the streets working with the poor I think that will make a difference.
  • The Church has grown and been strengthened in this country because of women religious. They have been doing what Pope Francis has been talking about in the streets of the world, in the prisons.  They have done that far more effectively than anyone else in the church.

Check out the full interview here.