Oscar Rodriguez: Romero and Pope Francis


[Romero’s] prophetic message was that our duty as Christians is to bring the values of the Gospel to life. We have to put our principles into practice, he said. After 30 years from his death and after his recent beatification, Romero’s life and murder is a challenge to us, a challenge to all believers. And I would ask whether we are prepared to actually put that power, the one that comes from following the Lord’s way of life, at the service of others? And to fight for justice for the world’s poor and marginalised, whatever the cost is for our Church? In this particular time that we live in, it is so important to understand and follow what he once said.

Romero on 27th November 1977 said: ‘The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred, it is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to turn weapons into sickles for work.’ A couple of months before, on September 25th 1977, he said ‘Let us not tire of preaching love. It is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love, though we see waves of violence at sea drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out, it is the only thing that can.’

… Archbishop Romero and Pope Francis seem to follow parallel spiritual and pastoral tracks. Both men share an understanding of the practical implications of seeking God in all things. A sense of openness to
the presence of God in history and the world, including in struggle and discourse. For many of his biographers, Romero’s favourite subject coming from the Gospel was the incarnation of Our Lord. Christ is the Word that became flesh in history and continues doing that. And since that real faith leads to engagement, then some want to keep the gospel so disembodied that it doesn’t get involved at all in the world, it is safe. Christ is now in history, Christ is in the womb of the people, Christ is now bringing about the new heaven and the new earth, Romero wrote.

And if we believe truly in the incarnation of the Word of God, we have to make ours the real and true option for the poor.– Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga,SDB, of Honduras at the 2015 Oscar Romero lecture.

Read From Romero to Francis: The Joy & the Tensions of Becoming a Poor Church with the Poor by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (October 2015)

Read more about the 2015 Annual Archbishop Romero Lecture organised by the Archbishop Romero Trust.

Pope Francis to Congress: Remember Lincoln, King, Day, and Merton

CPr_SKJWUAEYOphI spent a wonderful morning down on the national Mall watching Pope Francis address Congress. What an amazing speech. The air was electric! Not something you normally feel inside the political beltway of D.C.

Tears sprang to my eyes when the pope said he would build his talk around four great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Wow! I finally felt like the church was done wandering in the wilderness and was ready to come home to the living gospel of at least the 20th century!

Here’s one excerpt:

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. …

Here’s the link to the complete transcript of Pope Francis’ address to Congress:


Bishop Francis Quinn: The Spirit is Calling Women to Priesthood

Bishop emeritus Francis A. Quinn
Bishop emeritus Francis A. Quinn

If anyone wants to understand my “Catholic DNA,” it will help to know that Bishop Francis A. Quinn (see below) confirmed me at St. Ignatius Catholic School in Sacramento when I was in 8th grade. God bless him!

From America magazine:

A retired Catholic bishop in California is speaking publicly for the first time about his support for the ordination of women, saying he found “liberation” when Pope Francis encouraged bishops at the extraordinary synod last October to “speak boldly and listen humbly” about issues facing the church.

Bishop Emeritus Francis A. Quinn, who served as the bishop of Sacramento from 1980 to 1994 and gained a reputation for his pastoral nature, outreach to the poor and empowerment of lay leadership in the church, said in an interview with America on Sept. 16 that Pope Francis made it clear that bishops should not censor their opinions based on what they think the pope wants to hear.

“So I figured: Well, O.K.,” he explained.

On Saturday, just days before Pope Francis arrives in the United States for a three-city apostolic visit, Bishop Quinn said in an op-ed in the New York Times that the Catholic Church should consider optional celibacy for priests, the ordination of women, and allowing Catholics who are divorced and remarried (without an annulment) to receive Communion.

In the interview with America, Bishop Quinn said, “I personally think the Spirit is calling women to be deacons and priests, but the Spirit hasn’t yet communicated it to the teaching church. — Luke Hansen, S.J. (Read the whole article here.)

Read more about Bishop Quinn and his ministry on the Yaqui reservation.

Bishop Quinn’s new book is Behind Closed Doors: Conflicts in Today’s Church

E. Ethelbert Miller: The Prisoner, The Pope, and the President

emillerNewsphotoD.C. treasure and literary activist Ethelbert Miller invites America inside prison to see what we are paying for. Keep your eye on the images of a pope and a president who go “inside.” Below is an excerpt from Miller’s short essay:

If one believes Babylon is falling there is then a tendency to stand around and do nothing.

We cannot wait for a celebrity prisoner like Martha Stewart to make us want to talk about prisons. We can’t place all our attention or focus on the “outdoors” and police brutality. Nor can we talk about unjust laws and the black nets that trap and scar the sufferers. Prison is hell and the Devil lives elsewhere.

Too many sufferers coming out prison are going to show the signs of mental illness. A caged human being can slowly grow fur on a daily basis.

In September when the Pope goes into a U.S. prison the cameras will follow. One wonders how the “indoor” black men who are Muslims will receive him. How will the media respond if the Pope decides to wash the feet of black men? Might this be a reversal of the Help?

Meanwhile, our Obama will visit a prison in Oklahoma. Look for him to be surrounded by a number of white inmates. I was hoping the Brother from the White House was going to a prison in Maryland to talk to people from Maryland and DC. I wanted him to sit down in the middle of a circle of black man and talk about fatherhood, work, and reflect on the blackness of the times.–E. Ethelbert Miller

Read Ethelbert Miller’s complete essay at E-Notes.

Pope Francis: House Rules for Our Common Home

Check out the reader’s guide to Pope Francis’ letter on the environment. (Thank you, Tom Reese!) This is a great way to introduce Pope Francis’ groundbreaking treatise to youth groups, Wednesday night bible study and prayer groups, adult Sunday school classes, justice organizations, local book studies, etc.

If you are a human being living on planet earth, then I urge you to gain a working knowledge of this document. It will lead you to ask essential questions about human nature, character, the community of life, sharing, kindness, awe, daily moral reasoning, and love.

World Faiths Meet in Rome: Climate Change is a ‘Moral and Religious Imperative for Humanity’

World leaders met at the Vatican for a conference on climate change last week. They released a final statement, declaring that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality” and “its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity,” according to Vatican Radio.

All this is part of the run-up to the much anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis on climate change.

Below is an excerpt from the 28 April 2015 statement:

… We join together from many faiths and walks of life, reflecting humanity’s shared yearning for peace, happiness, prosperity, justice, and environmental sustainability. We have considered the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerabilities of the poor to economic, social, and environmental shocks.

In the face of the emergencies of human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare that:

Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity; In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role. These traditions all affirm the inherent dignity of every individual linked to the common good of all humanity. They affirm the beauty, wonder, and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to respect rather than ravage the garden that is our home; The poor and excluded face dire threats from climate disruptions, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels;

The world has within its technological grasp, financial means, and know-how the means to mitigate climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies; The financing of sustainable development, including climate mitigation, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable the shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development; … [read the rest here]

Read more on the forthcoming encyclical”

With Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change Done, Now a Vatican Sales Push – and Pushback by Andrew C. Revkin

Integral ecology and the horizon of hope: concern for the poor and for creation in the ministry of Pope Francis by Cardinal Peter Turkson

Pope Francis’s Ecology Encyclical – What Can We Expect? by Henry Longbottom, SJ

May Families be ‘Authentic Schools of the Gospel’

by Fay Ocampo
by Fay Ocampo
Pope Francis today called for prayers for families and offered this beautiful one as an example:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
The splendor of true love,
We turn to you with confidence.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
Make our families, also,
Places of communion and cenacles of prayer,
Authentic schools of the Gospel,
And little domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth
May our families never more experience
Violence, isolation, and division:
May anyone who was wounded or scandalized
Rapidly experience consolation and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
May the upcoming Synod of Bishops
Re-awaken in all an awareness
Of the sacred character and inviolability of the family,
Its beauty in the project of God.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Hear and answer our prayer. Amen.

@Pontifex: Do we live as children or as slaves?


“The Word of God explains to us, today especially, the meaning of time, to understand that time is not a reality estranged from God simply because He chose to reveal Himself and save us in history. The meaning of time, temporality, is the atmosphere of the epiphany of God, that is the manifestation of God and His concrete love. ‘Time is the messenger of God,’ as St. Peter Favre said. …

Today’s liturgy reminds us of this statement by the apostle John: ‘My children, the hour has come,’ and St. Paul speaking of the ‘fullness of time.’ Therefore, today it shows us how time, which has been ‘touched’ by Christ and by God, received new and surprising meanings. It has become ‘saving time,’ definitive time of saving and grace.

All this leads us to think of the end of life. There was a beginning and there will be an end. With this truth, which is as simple and fundamental as it is neglected and forgotten, the Holy Mother Church teaches us to end the year and our days with an examination of conscience. Through this, we go back to past events; we thank God for every gift we have received and for all the good we could do and, at the same time, we think of our faults and our sins. To say thanks and to ask for forgiveness. This is what we do, even today, at the end of the year. Let us praise the Lord with the Te Deum hymn, and at the same time, let us ask for forgiveness. The attitude of thanksgiving prepares us for humility, to recognise and welcome the gifts of the Lord.

The apostle Paul epitomises, in the reading of today’s Vespers, the fundamental reason for our thanksgiving to God. He has made us their children; He adopted us as children. This undeserved gift fills us with gratitude and wonder! Some might say, “but are we not their children, simply through our being human?” Certainly, because God is Father of every person who is born. But without forgetting that we are far from Him through original sin, that separated us from our Father: our filial relationship is deeply hurt.

That is why God sent his Son to redeem us at the cost of His blood. If there is redemption, that is because there is slavery. We used to be sons and daughters but we became slaves by following the voice of the Evil One. No one else redeems us from that substantial slavery if not Jesus, who became man through the Virgin Mary and died on the cross to free us from the slavery of sin and return us to our lost filial condition.

At the same time, the very gift we thank for is the reason for our examination of conscience, to review our personal and community life, and to ask; what is our way of life like? Do we live as children or as slaves? Do we live as people baptised in Christ, anointed by the Spirit, redeemed, free? Or do we live according to worldly, corrupted logic, doing what the devil makes us believe is in our best interest?

Continue reading “@Pontifex: Do we live as children or as slaves?”

Francis’ Feminine Genius? – Vatican Report on U.S. Catholic Sisters

Religion_PicThe highly controversial Vatican Visitation of U.S. Catholic women’s orders seems to have roared in like a lion and out like a lamb. What a perfect display of Christian metanoia!

For this transformation, it required heroic acts of highly skilled “participatory patience” on the part of U.S. Catholic sisters and a change of papal regimes.

What started out as a retaliatory act by a few right-wing American bishops who were tired of Catholic sisters messing up their political machinations (read Obamacare), was transformed by U.S. Catholic sisters’ deep faith, perseverance, wisdom, and integrity into what may be a reconciling opportunity to move what Pope Francis calls the “feminine genius” more centrally into the Vatican. (I won’t say into the heart of the church, because the feminine genius has never left the heart of the people or congregations, it’s only been pushed to the periphery by the Vatican and some intransigent bishops’ conferences, such as that in the U.S.)

It’s important to remember that the report released today addresses “quality of life” issues in Catholic women’s communities in the U.S.

There is an ongoing theological investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that still awaits resolution. No doubt Pope Francis wants both of these issues resolved and reconciled before his visit in October 2015. He’s using his own political genius to soothe wounds, calm fears, lift dignity, and also discern who the women are with sound spirits, deep faith, and sharp minds.

The fact that Sr. Sharon Holland, executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, was part of this press conference sent a positive message about LCWR. She gave an excellent, authentic, and realistic response, which you can read here. (She’s a canon lawyer, spiritual director, and action figure. Watch out!)

“The Visitation was met by some religious with “apprehension and suspicion” (n. 11). The expressed purpose, ‘to look into the quality of life of religious women in the United States,’ was troubling. Some congregations reported that their elder sisters felt that their whole lives had been judged and found wanting. Despite the apprehension however, today we are looking at an affirmative and realistic report which, we know, is based on the study of written responses and on countless hours of attentive listening,” said Sr. Holland.

“In a particular way, it is the realism of the text which appealed to me first. For example, in the section on vocation promotion and formation, there is the common concern for the dramatic decline in vocations. However, the Report goes on to recognize that the vocational peak of the 1960’s was unusual, and not a norm to which we can return. Rather, the focus is on providing the formation needed for today’s candidates who often are highly qualified professionally, but lacking in theological formation.”

“The section concerning Financial Stewardship likewise shows our complex current realities. Religious are praised for wise stewardship, socially responsible investing and strategic planning for the needs of members and ministries. Simultaneously, there is a very concrete acknowledgment of many causes contributing to our financial problems: years of undercompensated ministry, a diminished number of earners, volunteer ministries of elder religious, work with the poor and disenfranchised and the fact that sisters serving in ecclesiastical structures receive relatively low salaries and have sometimes lost their positions due to downsizing.

I mention these factors simply to emphasize again how much has been heard and understood.There is an encouraging and realistic tone in this Report. Challenges are understood, but it is not a document of blame, or of simplistic solutions. One can read the text and feel appreciated and trusted to carry on.”

And I want to give a shout out to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Rome correspondent Megan Williams for saying to the panel of distinguished presenters, “The Catholic Church, of course, is a male-dominated institution that continues to exclude women’s voices from key decision making. Does this report in any way move women to a greater role within the church?” [For some entertaining theo-political gymnastics, you can watch the responses here at minute 1:05:16, including Cardinal Braz de Aviz jumping in to talk rather bumblingly about equal and complementary roles for women and men.]

For a good refresher on the history of the Vatican investigation of U.S. Catholic women’s communities, see Jesuit priest James Martin’s excellent refresher A High Quality of Life at America.

For a good understanding of the context of this report, see Rocco Palmo’s Up Next: Nuns at Whispers in the Loggia.

For the primary source material, read the Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious in the U.S. (12/16/2014).

For transcripts from the press conference this morning in Rome presenting the report: Press Conference for the presentation of the Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the U.S. (12/16/2014)

For some context on Catholic women millennials and future vocations, read Sister Mary Johnson’s article Vatican report gives sisters and whole church reason to hope in America.

And a last note. When the Spanish press asked for a response to a question in Spanish for Spanish-language radio, there appeared to be only one U.S. sister who understood the Spanish: Sr. Sharon Holland. That’s what preparing for the future looks like!

“Where there is Jesus, there is joy.”–Pope Francis