Pope Francis in the Time 100

Pope Francis is profiled by Cardinal Blase Cupich in this year’s Time 100:

Before being elected Pope, Francis gave a speech to his fellow Cardinals warning against becoming a “self-referential” church, rather than one that goes out of itself to the margins of society to be with those who suffer. That is where God is working in the world and where he calls us to be. This has rung especially true this year, as Francis has spoken out on the need to welcome refugees amid a global crisis.


Reflections on Pope Francis and His Impact on His Fourth Anniversary

Here are a few of the numerous articles reflecting on Pope Francis’ four years as pope:

A Crux rundown of memorable moments from Francis’s first four years: “Hearing the Holy Father speak aloud the words “the land of the free and the home of the brave” from the dais of the U.S. Congress in September 2015 was an unexpectedly emotional occasion for me. Despite such bitter polarization in recent years, here was the leader of the Catholic Church bringing political leaders from both sides of the aisle together in a rare moment of genuine joy and enthusiasm that no State of the Union could come close to matching! In that address, Francis used the occasion to recast the American Dream through the lens of Catholic social teaching. It proved to be an occasion to reconsider what’s best about America-and I hope it served as an examination of conscience for the entire nation. (Christopher White)”

Cardinal Cupich: Francis is giving new life to Vatican II reforms by Joshua McElwee: “The hopes and the joys. But also, the struggles, the sorrows that people have. He is united with them. The church claims to be an expert in humanity, and an expert about humanity. I think that the pope is really trying to, in many ways, express the aspirations of humanity but also the challenges it faces today, much like the document Gaudium et spes did. That’s how I would sum it up.”

Pope Francis’ fourth anniversary: will the reforms work? by Michael Sean Winters: “We have had four years in which the universal pastor of the church has unrelentingly called attention to the plight of the poor. Could a future pope turn his back on the Global South and the poverty of the people there in order to make nice with the wealthy of the West? Is it conceivable that a future pope would join forces with the movements of political reaction and national chauvinism, turning his back on the plight of migrants and refugees?”

Pope Francis: Top 10 Most Important Moments by Wyatt Massey: “In “Laudato Si,’” the pope criticized consumerism, discussed the effects of climate change on the poor and grounded his argument deeply in the Bible and church tradition. The encyclical, published June 18, 2015, officially added teaching on the environment to the body of Catholic Social Teaching.”

Highlights of Year 4 by OSV: “Upon receipt of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen in recognition of his work to promote European unification in early May, Pope Francis asks of the continent: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?””

Four years on, Francis’s pastoral revolution is the heart of it all Austen Ivereigh: “Its impact may be deep and wide-ranging, but the essence of the Francis reform, clearly visible after four years, is a re-focussing on the Church’s pastoral mission to humanity.”



Pope Francis Hosts Lunch with Syrian Refugees

via Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis had lunch with a group of 21 Syrian refugees on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta.

During the luncheon, both adults and children had the possibility to speak with Pope Francis about the beginnings of their life in Italy.

The children gave the Holy Father a collection of their drawings, and the Pope showered them with toys and other gifts.

The refugees, who live in Rome and are hosted by the St. Egidio Community, were brought to Rome from Lesbos by Pope Francis at the conclusion of his visit to the Greek island on 16 April 2016.


From the Francis Moment to the Francis Movement: Mercy is the Way Forward

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for President and Hillary Clinton has math firmly on her side to win the Democratic nomination, the next six months of politics is going to be contentious if not outright ugly.  Not just because we’re heading into an election that no one wants, but quite simply because Trump and Clinton are the two leading candidates Americans describe as potentially “terrible” presidents: 44% of Americans think Trump would be terrible (as opposed to 10% who’d argue he’d be “great”) while 30% in the US say Clinton would be terrible (compared with 11% contending she’d be “great”).  By the evening of November 8th (or in the early hours of November 9th), a large portion of our country will be disgusted with the election results.

This is beyond the typical political polarization we keep hearing about, including the latest figures from the Pew Research Center.  A few examples: 61% of Republicans think defense spending should be increased, compared with only 20% of Democrats; 74% of Republicans are seriously concerned about the threats posed to national security by refugees from Syrian and the Middle East, while only 40% of Democrats concur; when it comes to global warming, only 26% of Republicans worry about the impact to the US,  a fraction of the 77% of Democrats; on the issue of increasing foreign aid, only 32% of Republicans offer their support, compared to 62% of Democrats.

To be sure, ideological differences are to be expected between rival political parties.  But as illustrated by these striking images, a divided Congress can bring politics to a standstill.  And I don’t just mean the Republican stonewalling of President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.  As Trent Lott and Tom Daschle have argued, the lack of compromise, chemistry, leadership, and shared vision can bring our political system to a crisis point.  The anger of the American populace has been palpable in this election cycle and certainly some of the appeal to candidates like Trump is the old “throw the bums out” angst.  As philosopher Martha Nussbaum has observed, underneath this anger lurks fear and helplessness, and if this continues to go unaddressed, there’s potential to unleash a “dangerous rage in a way that might do great damage to the American people in the long run.”

So what is to be done?  If so many Americans consider our political system to be so dysfunctional and find the presidential nominees so repugnant, what is the way forward? Read More


Commentary on Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)

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Here are a number of articles from millennial Catholics on Pope Francis’ recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation:

Look to the Margins by Meghan Clark: “Pope Francis offers what we have come to expect from him—a thoughtful, nuanced and substantial text that defies easy interpretation. It is also a text that looks to the margins, something else that is a clear Pope Francis trademark. He is attentive to the pressures and struggles of families living in poverty, but he also highlights another group on the margins: victims of domestic violence.”

Pope Francis’ new ‘Joy of Love’ precept offers no major overhaul of church doctrine, but urges a warmer approach toward ‘irregular’ couples by Christopher White: “This street level focus is why Francis dedicates the majority of this sweeping document not just to the issue of communion but the practical and concrete realities that often serve as an impediment to family life today. Within the document, he calls for the improvement of education for children as a primary means for passing on the faith, greater access to affordable housing, noting that “families and homes go together,” a rejection of pornography and “the commercialization of the body,” and pleas for us to show greater attention toward the elderly, the disabled, and migrants, as “they serve as a test of our commitment to show mercy in welcoming others and to help the vulnerable to be fully a part of our communities.”

Throughout his papacy, mercy has been the primary theme that has motivated Francis. Mercy, as understood by Francis does not come in the form of doctrinal change, but in greater pastoral care to the needs of those seeking to live out the faith in their everyday lives. The release of Amoris Laetitia reminds us that Francis is, indeed, asking that the Church reform its attitude toward modern family life. But his reform takes us back to the roots and serves as an invitation for us to recover the true meaning of marriage and family that is in danger of being lost.” Read More