Pope Francis: Jesus is Radical, Giving All and Asking All

via Vatican News:

Jesus is radical.  He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart….

Jesus is not content with a “percentage of love”: we cannot love him twenty or fifty or sixty percent.  It is either all or nothing.

Dear brothers and sisters, our heart is like a magnet: it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world’s treasure (cf. Mt 6:24); either it will live for love or it will live for itself (cf. Mk 8:35)….

In a word, is Jesus enough for us or do we look for many worldly securities?  Let us ask for the grace always to leave things behind for love of the Lord: to leave behind wealth, the yearning for status and power, structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world.  Without a leap forward in love, our life and our Church become sick from “complacency and self-indulgence” (Evangelii Gaudium, 95): we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum, where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled.

This is how it was for the man, who – the Gospel tells us – “went away sorrowful” (v. 22).  He was tied down to regulations of the law and to his many possessions; he had not given over his heart. Even though he had encountered Jesus and received his loving gaze, the man went away sad.  Sadness is the proof of unfulfilled love, the sign of a lukewarm heart.  On the other hand, a heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today.

The Challenges and Urgency of Doing Public Theology in 2018

In article that quotes Millennial writer Meghan Clark and guest writer Susan Reynolds, Heidi Schlumpf writes:

In an age of Trump and given the serious issues facing the country and the world, theologians are seeing the urgency of doing public theology, a term coined by Lutheran theologian Martin Marty in the 1970s.

But given the polarized political sphere, especially on social media, plus equally destabilizing controversies within the church, not to mention a lack of support from within academia, they are facing challenges in bringing their academic expertise into the public square….

Social media has been both a blessing and something of a curse for public theologians. On the one hand, it provides a broad platform for theologians to communicate with one another and with broader audiences — especially for those who have been marginalized from more traditional academic spaces.

On the other, the nastiness of Catholic Twitter and other social media can open theologians to attack and to their work being taken out of context.

“The saying that all publicity is a good thing doesn’t apply to pre-tenured faculty,” said Meghan Clark, associate professor of theology and religious studies at St. John’s University in New York, who has noticed commenters are more emboldened lately to use racist and misogynistic language in personal attacks on social media.

Yet Clark maintains a strong social media presence, precisely because she sees the importance of public theology. She tries to use her position of privilege to amplify the voices of communities facing injustice and oppression, such as going to John F. Kennedy International Airport to protest the ban on immigrants from Muslim countries…

“Especially for a moral theologian, doing ethics out of an ivory tower is useless right now,” she said. “If we’re not connecting and engaging with those communities, then we’re profoundly failing in our vocation to the church and the world.”…

“Public theology is more important than ever, but it can’t just be a few niche people arguing about niche things,” said Susan Reynolds, assistant professor of Catholic studies at Emory University Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. “There’s a potential for so much more than that.”

Card. Ouellet: Vigano’s “Political Maneuver” against Pope is Deplorable, Blasphemous, Unjustified

via Vatican News:

Cardinal Marc Ouellet writes to “his fellow brother”, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, responding to his accusations according to his own personal knowledge and documents in the archive of the Congregation for Bishops, and asks him to return to full communion with the Successor of Peter.

Here are some highlights:

  • Your current position appears incomprehensible and extremely deplorable to me, not only because of the confusion that it sows in the People of God, but also because your public accusations seriously damage the reputation of the Successors of the Apostles.
  • The former Cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public, so as not to provoke additional rumors in his regard. It is false to present the measures taken in his regard as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and revoked by Pope Francis.
  • I can ascertain that there are no corresponding documents signed by either Pope, neither is there a note of an audience with my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, giving Archbishop Emeritus McCarrick an obligatory mandate of silence and to retire to a private life, carrying canonical penalties. The reason being that at that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged guilt.
  • I tell you frankly that I believe it is incredible and unlikely from many points of view to accuse Pope Francis of having covered up after having full knowledge of the facts of this presumed sexual predator, and therefore of being an accomplice in the corruption rampant in the Church, to the point of considering him unfit to continue his reforms as the first Shepherd of the Church. I cannot understand how you could have allowed yourself to be convinced of this monstrous accusation which has no standing.
  • Francis had nothing to do with the promotion of McCarrick to New York, Metuchen, Newark or Washington. He divested him from the dignity of Cardinal when a credible accusation of the abuse of a minor became evident. I have never heard Pope Francis allude to this self-styled advisor during his pontificate regarding nominations in America, though he does not hide the trust that he has in some of the Bishops.
  • I therefore consider it to be aberrant that you should profit by the horrible scandal of the sexual abuse of minors in the United States to inflict such an unprecedented and unmerited blow on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff.
  • Reading how you concluded your last message, apparently very spiritual, mocking and casting doubt on his faith, seemed to me to be really too sarcastic, even blasphemous! Such a thing cannot come from God’s Spirit.
  • I understand that bitterness and delusions have been a part of your journey in service to the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life in this way, in open and scandalous rebellion, which is inflicting a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, thus aggravating the division and confusion in the People of God!
  • Come out of hiding, repent from this revolt and retrieve better feelings toward the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him.
  • Responding to your unjust and unjustified attack, dear Viganò, I therefore conclude that the accusation is a political maneuver without any real foundation to be able to incriminate the Pope, and I repeat that it is deeply wounding the Church’s communion.

Denis Mukwege and 2016 Millennial of the Year Nadia Murad Win Nobel Peace Prize

via Washington Post:

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to two people who have brought attention to ending sexual violence against women in armed conflict.

Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist treating victims of gang rape, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi who has spoken about her own suffering at the hands of the Islamic State, are both witnesses to the way in which the abuse of women can be intertwined with violent conflict.

Mukwege has treated thousands of rape victims at his hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Murad has become an outspoken activist about sexual slavery and human trafficking. What they have in common is that they both have lived in parts of the world where it is particularly dangerous to be a woman.

“We want to send out a message of awareness that women, who constitute half of the population in most communities, actually are used as a weapon of war — and that they need protection,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Protecting women and holding perpetrators accountable is a “prerequisite for lasting peace,” she added.

Nadia Murad was our 2016 Millennial of the Year:

For her commitment to justice for the victims of genocide, mass atrocities, sexual violence, and human trafficking, along with her calls for action to protect the innocent from ISIS, our 2016 Millennial of the Year is Nadia Murad.

A Yazidi, living in Iraq at the time, Nadia was kidnapped and enslaved by ISIS in 2014. Her mother and six brothers were killed. Nadia managed to escape. Since that time, she has become a champion of the Yazidi people and human rights.

Millennial writer Fabrice Musoni wrote an article on Denis Mukwege in 2014:

The heroic deeds of Dr. Mukwege have humble beginnings at the onset of the first war in the mid-1990s. He fled to Bukavu after patients from his hospital 60 miles south were killed in their beds and started a hospital made from tents, building a new maternity ward, only for everything to be destroyed yet again. Showing persistence in the face of a dispiriting setback, Dr. Mukwege started all over again and set up Panzi hospital in 1999 to treat women subjected to horrific sexual violence.

“It was that year that our first rape victim was brought into the hospital. After being raped, bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs. I thought that was a barbaric act of war, but the real shock came three months later. Forty-five women came to us with the same story, they were all saying: ‘People came into my village and raped me, tortured me,’” he said.

“These weren’t just violent acts of war, but part of strategy. You had situations where multiple people were raped at the same time, publicly—a whole village might be raped during the night. In doing this, they hurt not just the victims but the whole community, which they force to watch. The result of this strategy is that people are forced to flee their villages, abandon their fields, their resources, everything. It’s very effective,” he added.

Young Adults, Identity, Community, and Purpose: An Interview with Elise Italiano

In the days leading up to the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, Millennial editor Robert Christian interviewed Elise Italiano, the founding executive director of the GIVEN Institute, on young adults and the Church:

You and Christopher White have a series at Catholic News Service that provides a forum for young adult Catholics to write about millennials and the Church. Do you see certain threads running through these articles, in terms of some shared goals and experiences? Have you learned anything or has anything surprised you in developing and editing this series?

We initiated the series with the hope of providing another opportunity for young adults to be heard by the U.S. Bishops ahead of the Synod. Many American dioceses encouraged young people within their jurisdiction to respond to the Vatican’s online surveys. We hoped that these columns would bring those responses to life through first-person testimonies.

After reviewing the contributions from our columnists for more than a year, I’d say that while young adults closely watch how their bishops respond to significant cultural, political, and ecclesial developments—and we’ve certainly had our fair share of them since the column started —they are primarily concerned with experiencing closeness, compassion, and concern from their shepherds. They want to know if bishops and Church leaders understand the circumstances in which they are coming of age, with all of the opportunities and challenges they face.

Our columnists shared pretty significant anxieties related to everything from financial burdens to loneliness to raising young children. At the same time, they generally seemed to hold out hope for a more promising future. By and large they crave an experience of authentic community and the support of mentors. They want to find both of these things in the Church, and they are ready to take on leadership roles alongside of bishops and pastors to make sure future generations have them.

At the Georgetown conference on polarization in June, you talked about the way that polarization and internal squabbling are distracting from the grave situation that the Church faces when it comes to young adults and the culture that is shaping their lives. Why are our peers being “carried out in spiritual body bags,” as you say?

I spent six years teaching high school theology to young women and spent several years interacting with college students through my work in public relations at a university.  From what I’ve witnessed, young people today have more choice and possibility, greater access to information and opportunity to connect with people than ever before.

Yet many of them are sad. They report feeling lonely and isolated. Suicide rates and addictions are at an all-time high. Young people are hungry for authentic connection, but there seem to be fewer and fewer opportunities to experience real community in the flesh. They know that consumerism and instant gratification don’t satisfy, but they can’t quite put their finger on what will.

Our Church leaders and commentators spend an enormous amount of time engaged in inside-baseball ecclesial battles.  When the Church looks inward for such a sustained period of time, it risks failing to take note of the people it’s supposed to be serving and to understand their reality.

For example, there has been a sustained, ongoing dispute amongst theologians and commentators about Chapter 8 in Amoris Laetitia.  Getting theology right certainly matters. But it can’t be all-consuming, especially because a generation of young adults is delaying or foregoing marriage altogether.  When we stay focused on the footnote alone, we risk putting energies into the necessary work of re-proposing marriage as a good to a generation which is highly skeptical of its possibility in the first place.

Many people in the Church still employ an evangelical strategy that presumes a certain level of catechesis, or acceptance of anthropological claims, or an understanding of theological vocabulary. I think it’s time to evaluate those presumptions and opt for a new strategy.

How can the Church—its leaders and everyday Catholics—slow or reverse this trend?

Today’s young people need a Church that is going to set aside the ecclesial divisions and help them learn what it means to be human. They need to know that there’s a God who loves them.  I think there’s a fear that if the Church were to get back to the basics of the Gospel, that we’d be forfeiting important theological nuances or points of emphasis that need to be worked out. But I think a return to the sources is a good idea. A culture that’s saturated by secularism is a culture that will eventually begin to crave something more. We need to approach our neighbors as if anything we tell them about the Gospel is their first encounter with its message.

What would you like to see coming out of the Synod on Young People?

I hope the Synod Fathers focus on three themes: identity, community, and purpose. Every young person is searching for the answers to the following questions: Who am I? Who do I belong to? Do I have something to contribute? The Church proposes that Jesus Christ is the answer to every human life. I’d like to see those present examine how well we are helping people know their identity in Christ; how well our parishes, campus ministries, and diocesan offices are fostering real community in which people feel that they are cared for; how well we are doing with helping people to discover that they have a unique, God-given mission that no one else can fulfill. I hope it’s an honest, humble, and hopeful assessment of how we’re doing.

How does the renewed focus on sexual abuse and cover-ups by the Church’s hierarchy affect the Church’s mission here in the US?

This summer pulled back the curtain on a great deal of darkness that was and is lurking in the Church.  In one sense, it has shed further light on the fact that the Church must be a “field hospital” to a critical, vulnerable population – persons who have been abused by clergy. The difficulty is that the Church was complicit in their vulnerability, and so the work of healing must be careful, steady, and thorough.  As our time and attention is rightfully drawn to serving them, our attention to other urgent matters will be divided. This will affect the populations the Church was serving this summer – migrant families at the U.S. Mexico-Border, young adults ahead of the Synod, and the on-going work to protect the unborn and support their mothers. My hope is that instead of giving into despair, Catholics will find renewed conviction and a sense of urgency and take up the task of protecting life and dignity in whatever corner God has called them to work in.

What is GIVEN and why is it needed? 

The GIVEN Institute (“GIVEN”) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to activating the gifts of young adult women for the Church and the world. We inspire and equip the next generation of female leaders to “receive the gift that they are; realize the gifts they’ve been given; and respond with the gift that only they can give.”  Through leadership training, faith formation, and dedicated mentoring, GIVEN forms women for mission and for life.

The flagship event of the GIVEN Institute is the Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum. The event (to take place every 2 years) will bring together a diverse group of young adult women from across the country for a multi-day forum. It is designed for young adult Catholic women seeking leadership training, faith formation, and support to better understand and pursue their particular mission and/or vocation. Emerging leaders will have the opportunity to hear from and be mentored by leading Catholic women in both ecclesial and secular fields.

GIVEN was formed to serve young adult Catholic women, who are an underserved though critical demographic marked by a search for identity, community, and purpose. GIVEN’s programming is designed for women between the ages of 21-30, who are navigating a period of time between college graduation and vocational commitment or professional clarity.

There is a growing number of highly educated, talented young adult women who are looking to make this period of their lives fruitful and purposeful, who want to know that their gifts are needed.  GIVEN will identify, equip, and position these women to find a meaningful path for this period, one which also opens up possibilities for their future and enables them to find ways to put their gifts in service to the Church and the common good.

Many excellent corporate leadership development programs do exist; however, growth in leadership is often framed as something in tension or at odds with other vocational responsibilities. There are many Catholic ministries and apostolates which provide faith formation to women, but few, if any, explicitly invest in their leadership development.

GIVEN will bring together these elements of leadership development, faith formation, and mentorship to provide a comprehensive and transformative personal investment in the lives of future Catholic women leaders.

By investing in this demographic, the Church is also making an investment in its future. Throughout the course of this summer, many commentators noted that an incisive presence of faithful, skilled women would help the Church in its renewal and reform. But it’s also a matter of urgency for the life and mission of the Church.

The distinct phenomena of the disaffiliation of young adult women, an aging population of religious sisters, and a culture which undervalues marriage and family life will soon converge. From its earliest days, women have been the backbone of the life and mission of the Church. This is a critical time for the Church to inspire and equip the next generation of Catholic women leaders to put their gifts in service of the Gospel.