Wonder Woman’s Quest for Justice, Love, and Peace

Meghan Clark has a new article at America:

I am a theologian who knows well the experience of being the only woman at the table. “Wonder Woman” beautifully captures the intensity and frustration of this experience, as well as the feeling of greater responsibility for those not allowed in the room….

In the Gospels, one of Jesus’ most radical choices is his use of women as witnesses. From Mary Magdalene to the Samaritan Woman at the Well, Jesus trusts women to tell his story. In fact, if it were not for female witnesses, preserving an account of the crucifixion and resurrection would have been quite difficult as it was the women who did not flee. Unfortunately, women’s space in the Gospel narratives has not been celebrated for much of Christian history. The most blatant distortion is the maligning of Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute, a claim with no grounding in Scripture. Her strength and witness in otherwise male cultural and religious spaces were less threatening if she could be reduced to a female stereotype…

In many ways, it felt as if the hopes and frustrations of an entire gender rested upon Wonder Woman’s shoulders this weekend. It is an impossible standard for any individual movie or woman to live up to. Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana captures this vulnerability and frustration. She is motivated by a deep desire for justice, love and peace. She wants to kill Ares to rid the world of conflict. Ultimately, she realizes that she cannot achieve that goal. The path laid out for her was not possible, and instead, she finds hope and beauty in humanity despite the darkness that looms beneath. Real strength is ultimately not power over others but power in the service of love and justice. She cannot rid the world of all conflict, but she continues to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

America’s new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn’t by William Wan: “Among the nation’s less-educated people — those with a high-school-equivalency diploma — the smoking rate remains more than 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, rural residents are diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent above those of city dwellers. By nearly every statistical measure, researchers say, America’s lower class now smokes more and dies more from cigarettes than other Americans.”

The Confederate flag largely disappeared after the Civil War. The fight against civil rights brought it back. by Logan Strother, Thomas Ogorzalek and Spencer Piston: “Southerners reintroduced these symbols as a means of resisting the Civil Rights movement. The desire to maintain whites’ dominant position in the racial hierarchy of the United States was at the root of the rediscovery of Confederate symbols.”

As Merkel calls on Pope Francis, is a partnership in the works? by John Allen: “On many fronts, Merkel would seem to embody an agenda more congenial to that of Pope Francis. She’s an ardent supporter of Paris and environmental protection, she’s defended a strong pro-immigrant position that saw Germany take in an estimated one million refugees and migrants in 2015 alone, and when she was in Mexico last week, she pointedly said that “putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem.”” Read More


Cardinal Chito: Sign the Laudato Si’ Pledge

On the second anniversary of Laudato Si, Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines is calling on Catholics around the world to respond to the pope’s encyclical by pledging to pray for and with creation, live more simply, and advocate to protect our common home. Those living in the US can take the pledge here, and those living outside the US can sign here.


Pope Francis, Angela Merkel Discuss Combating Hunger, Poverty, Terrorism, and Climate Change


via Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband on Saturday in a private audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office called their discussions “cordial” and said they spoke about “the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany”.

“Issues of common interest were then addressed, with special regard for the upcoming G20 meeting in Hamburg, and the parties agreed on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community in combating poverty and hunger, the global threat of terrorism, and climate change.”


via AP:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Pope Francis encouraged her to work to preserve the Paris climate accord despite the U.S. withdrawal and shared her aim to “bring down walls,” and not build them.



Bishops: Don’t Hurt the Poor by Repealing ACA, Gutting the Safety Net

via Michael O’Loughlin:

A handful of bishops offered impassioned pleas for Catholics to take a stand against both a proposed federal budget that critics say guts the social safety net and efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act with a law that could strip health care from millions of poor Americans.

“Within two weeks we may see a federal budgetary action with potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of our people, most especially children and the elderly, the seriously ill, the immigrant and our nation’s working poor,” Bishop George Thomas of Helena, Mt., said on Thursday during an address at the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Indianapolis….

The body of bishops applauded when Bishop Thomas finished speaking.

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego said bishops must do more “to recognize the breathtaking nature of the assault on the core principle of Catholic social teaching” present in the proposed Republican health care bill, adding that “health care is a fundamental human right and government is its ultimate guarantor.”

“The Affordable Care Act for all of its flaws was a movement in favor of comprehensive health care,” he added. “[The American Health Care Act] is a movement away.”


Love Has No Alibi: Pope Francis Announces First World Day of the Poor Message

Earlier today, Pope Francis released a message for the Church in preparation for the First World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated on November 19th.  This particular Sunday—two weeks before the beginning of Advent and the Sunday before the Feast of Christ the King, which concludes the liturgical year—is given focus by the gospel reading for the day.  The passage, Matthew 25:14-30, is called the “parable of the talents.” It is a sobering reminder that much is expected from those to whom much is given (to paraphrase Luke 12:48), and sets the stage for the following passage (Matthew 25:31-46, the gospel for the Feast of Christ the King), when Jesus surprises his disciples by saying that final judgment is not a matter of belief or belonging, but results from how a person uses his or her freedom.  Specifically, Jesus identifies himself with the least, the last, and the lowly, telling his followers: “what you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me” (Matthew 25:40).

These passages are part of the biblical foundation for the preferential option for the poor in Catholic social teaching. This teaching calls Christians to love God by loving their neighbor, giving special priority to the neighbor in greatest need. It is crucial to remember that when we use the word “poor,” we’re not just talking about scores of people barely making ends meet.  Poor and low-income people make up 71% of the global population.

In Hebrew, the word for “poor” is anawim, although the word conveys much more than material deprivation.  Anawim is just as much about being vulnerable and marginalized, a social outcast, cloaked in shame.  When we talk about “the poor,” we should remember we are talking about people: children, married couples and single adults, the elderly, folks who experience mental or physical illness or injury—people who are socially excluded or isolated.  In Scripture, to be poor is to be denied dignity, rights, freedom, opportunities, and access.  Similarly, in the world today, to be poor is to have little or no power.  As Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez has claimed, to be poor is to be rendered socially insignificant, a nonperson, someone fated to premature death.

A significant part of Pope Francis’ Message for the First World Day of the Poor involves going beyond exhorting Christians to show special care, concern, and steadfast commitment to those in greatest need.  “Love has no alibi,” Pope Francis asserts, and it ought to lead to a “true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.”  Here Francis connects this inaugural “World Day of the Poor” to one of the central themes of his papacy, the need to build a “culture of encounter,” to bring people together across differences with tenderness and solidarity.

Moreover, Pope Francis uses this message to remind Christians that we all experience poverty of some kind; we are all deprived in one way or another.  This is not a call to self-pity, but humility.  Aquinas defines humility as the truth: the ability to recognize our goodness as well as our finitude and moral failure.  Our poverty—material, spiritual, and marked by other social and political conditions—can be a starting point, rooted in humility to connect with others in vulnerability and openness.  As Brené Brown has highlighted, there is great power in vulnerability, a power that can bring about a change in the way we relate to ourselves and one another.

Instead of focusing on what we can give to others (especially in a spirit of pity or unilateral charity that can sometimes do more harm than good), this is a call to friendship, to right-relationship with God and all creation.  It is a call to be who God is in the world: a communion of love.

When we embrace our own poverty and refuse to ignore the poverty of others, we can make ourselves more available to the presence and power of God in our midst, who, as Jesus proclaimed, desires that we share life in abundance (John 10:10).  This First World Day of the Poor is a day to commit ourselves to be artisans of peace and builders of a “culture of life.”

You can read Pope Francis’ full Message for the First World Day of the Poor here.