Matthew Fox: Pope Francis’ Breath of Fresh Air

Former Dominican priest Matthew Fox has a new book out called Letters to Pope Francis. He also just published a “condensed version” essay in Tikkun magazine. Here’s an excerpt, but read the whole thing.

“… Teachings of Pope Francis that stand out include some of the following.

1. A walking of his talk of simpler lifestyle. Pope Francis was well known in Argentina for taking public transportation to work and refusing any limousine-like service, which so many prelates take for granted. He has done the same in his new position as pope, where he chooses not to live in the papal apartments but in a far more modest guest house or hotel in the Vatican (might he give over the apartments to Rome’s homeless?). He drives a Ford Focus in Vatican city. He has also drawn some press recently for sneaking out at night from the Vatican in the simple priestly garb of black suit and color and hanging out with homeless in the streets of Rome. One senses he is trying to walk the talk and follow his own preaching about simplification. And he is putting pressure on other prelates to do the same.

2. As for his talk, he tends to mince no words when speaking of the divergence of wealth and poverty today. He speaks to globalization this way: “The globalization that makes everything uniform is essentially imperialist…it is not human. In the end it is a way to enslave the nations.” (Fox, Letters to Pope Francis, 24; subsequent citations are from the same) Is globalization enslaving the nations? Serious words worthy of a serious discussion.

3. He says: “Christianity condemns both Communism and wild capitalism with the same vigor” and one needs to reject the “wild economic liberalism we see today” and “seek equal opportunities and rights and strive for social benefits, dignified retirement, vacation time, rest, and freedom of unions.”

4. He praises St Francis because “he brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time” and for this reason “he changed history.”

5. He takes on the neocon preoccupation with “world terrorism” and the fear such language arouses when he declares that “human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.” How important is that? To equate economic structures with terrorism? Yes, Wall Street terrorizes. Ask any Main Street citizen. …” — Matthew Fox

Read his whole essay.

Total side note: Matthew Fox was a Dominican order Catholic priest who was forced out of his order and out of the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI. He subsequently became an Episcopal priest. This is one of the ironic movements of church history. When the Anglican communion decided to ordain women, many married Anglican priests left the Anglican church in protest and were given a special dispensation to become active Roman Catholic priests. So the Catholic Church has a number of very conservative married priests who were former Anglicans. On the flip side, a number of more radical Catholic priests, nuns, and lay women have left the Catholic church because as priests they could not marry or as women they could not be ordained. Many of these joined the Anglican church. Matthew Fox is an example of the latter type.

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