Pope Francis: ‘The life of a Christian ought to be courageous’

be-courageous-t-shirt2“We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.”–Hebrews 6:11

Yesterday Pope Francis gave this homily at morning Mass at Casa Marta on the daily scripture from Hebrews 6:10-20. I took courage from it as we enter the days of the Inauguration and Women’s March here in D.C., where our friends are threatened and harassed in taxis, public transportation, in their churches, etc.

From Independent Catholic News:

The life of a Christian ought to be courageous, Pope Francis said during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday. The day’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks about zeal, the courage to go forward, which should be our approach toward life, like the attitude of those who train for victory in the arena. But the Letter also speaks of the laziness that is the opposite of courage. “Living in the fridge,” the Pope summarised, “so that everything stays the same.”

“Lazy Christians, Christians who do not have the will to go forward, Christians who don’t fight to make things change, new things, the things that would do good for everyone, if these things would change. They are lazy, “parked” Christians. They have found in the Church a good place to park. And when I say Christians, I’m talking about laity, priests, bishops… Everyone. But they are parked Christians! For them the Church is a parking place that protects life, and they go forward with all the insurance possible. But these stationary Christians, they make me think of something the grandparents told us as children: beware of still water, that which doesn’t flow, it is the first to go bad.”

What makes Christians courageous is hope, while the “lazy Christians” don’t have hope, they are in retirement, the Pope said. It is beautiful to go into retirement after many years of work, but, he warned, “spending your whole life in retirement is ugly!” Hope, on the other hand, is the anchor that we cling to in order to keep fighting, even in difficult moments.
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Pope Calls For Nonviolence in 2017 World Day of Peace Message

Pope calls for nonviolence in 2017 World Day of Peace message
U.S. religious leaders respond

Today in his message “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace,” for the 50th World Day of Peace, celebrated each year on 1 January, Pope Francis urges people everywhere to practice active nonviolence and notes that the “decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results.”

Pope Francis writes: “The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

“Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”. This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.

“The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace. Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”. I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”. Violence profanes the name of God. Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”

U.S. religious leaders and nonviolence scholars and strategists are beginning to respond to Pope Francis’ message:

“There is no place for violence in a heart at peace and in a world that is just. As Pope Francis said, “Everyone can be an artisan of peace. ” We all can cultivate peace by looking within, committing to a spirituality of active nonviolence, by moving beyond our comfort zones to embrace the suffering of the world, and collaborating with others for a sustained just peace.”—Sister Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA

“In this advent time of waiting for the coming of the one who is peace eternal, we are grateful for the challenge of Pope Francis to commit ourselves to peacebuilding through active Gospel nonviolence. Let us join in solidarity with all who know the injustice of violence, oppression, and poverty to build God’s beloved community.”—Ann Scholz, SSND, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

“With his breathtaking World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis has broken new ground by calling on people everywhere to unleash the power of active nonviolence as a way of life and as an effective alternative to the scourge of violence. This first official papal document on active nonviolence offers a way forward to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”—Ken Butigan, senior lecturer, DePaul University, Chicago and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service staff
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Just War, Just Peace, Just Catholic: A Gathering in Rome

Bandiera_paceHere’s the news. I’m headed to Rome (Italy, not Georgia) on Saturday, for a week to participate in the first-ever Vatican conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence, co-sponsored by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace.

I was asked to contribute a backgrounder paper titled “No Longer Legitimating War: Christians and Just Peace,” which (by the skin of my teeth and lots of help) I did.

I’ll be gathering with other Catholics, mostly from the majority world (and majority church), who live their Catholic faith and practice peace in the midst of civil war and extreme social violence.

Pope Francis has encouraged us to “put reality before ideas.” In the case of this conference, we’ll listen first to the lived experience of Catholics sorting out their salvation in midst of men with guns and then asking what scripture and church tradition has to offer to their experience. Continue reading “Just War, Just Peace, Just Catholic: A Gathering in Rome”

Shoes of the Fisherman: Pope Francis Sends Shoes to Climate Talks

shoes“Two black shoes belonging to Pope Francis have joined thousands of other pairs at an installation in Paris on Sunday, as part of a global campaign ahead of the UN climate summit in the French capital next week.

The installation is one of more than 2,300 events taking place in countries around the world as part of the Global Climate March, on the eve of the Paris summit. It was arranged by the worldwide citizen’s network Avaaz, after police cancelled a planned demonstration citing security concerns.

In cities across the globe hundreds of thousands of people have already taken to the streets to urge their leaders to commit to 100% clean energy sources by the year 2050.” From Vatican Radio (29 Nov 2015)

Read more here.

Oscar Rodriguez: Romero and Pope Francis

cardinal-rodriguez-717x450

[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:

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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.