Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Amy Welborn talks in the link about why it  seems (not to put words in her mouth-read it yourself) that people are thinking that it is new and inspiring to hear Pope Francis emphasize social justice so much, when for years (pre-Vatican II even) there was a great emphasis on the Corporeal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
I have this to say (some of it may have been said better by her-and note, I make generalizations and don't exclude myself from being part of the problem):
     1. In the past 40 years or so, "love" has been emphasized in formation classes and from the pulpit in the absence of a definition of love.
     2. Works of Mercy have been emphasized in formation classes and from the pulpit without a true or strong connection to God, justice, mercy, but more of a "do-good", "love everyone", "be a good" person" context. (Fortunately this is changing in many places.)
     3. And of course doctrine had become non-existent in most formation classes and from the pulpit (although this is changing as many good priests are starting to inhabit our parishes and pulpits.)
     4. There has been a disconnect and a backlash because of 1, 2, and 3. For some, the "doctrinalists" seem to have no sense of social justice. For others, the "do-gooders" have no sense of God.
     5. However, from the Holy Father (since at least 1978 when I was becoming aware of what the Holy Father said and wrote) there has been no disconnect. Our holy popes proclaimed the Gospel in its entirety. (Afterall who was that "Doctrinally-centered" pope who gave us the Encyclical God is Love (Deus Caritas Est)?)
     6. But there is a disconnect in the media, because they report on what they WANT you to understand about any public figure. They hated Benedict, so they say how different he was from Pope Francis. They even talk about the differences when they did exactly the same thing. (I believe Amy Welborn mentioned some of these things in the first days.) The media likes Francis because they think he is going to "modernize" (i.e. drop certain sexual norms) the Church.
     7. Sure there are differences, part of that is the special charism every Pope has and how he sees his particular mission. I have written here before how I believe St. John Paul II decided to travel the world to proclaim the Gospel because maybe he wasn't sure it was being proclaimed by the bishops in all these countries (?).
     8. I also believe that as Catholics have become middle and upper class that there is a real disconnect from the Gospel. We pick how we want to be Catholic. How many Catholics (of the conservative tilt) really give a good long listen and pray to what our last 3 popes have said about consumerism and capitalism. Have they changed anything in their lives based on it. I hear all about popes not having competency in the field of economics, but no Pope has told us which laws to pass, just moral principles to follow when making economic decisions. These folks lean on their doctrinal faithfulness in other areas to proclaim their catholicity. Others hold out their do-gooding social justice work and ignore the underpinnings of such work-which all of the last 3 popes have also proclaimed.
      9. I am not saying I am the greatest fan of Pope Francis. I am not going to rehash all that here. However, the lesson I believe is that we need to make sure we are reading the real documents, read the Bible, and understand the entirety of Church teach and not get our views and understanding from NPR, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, TIME magazine, or the New York Post.
     10. As Americans we tend to think it is "all about us", but there are many Catholics out there who live in countries in vastly different situations than us.
      11. And we need to pray about these things-and we need to follow Christ! - mea culpa!

One final note (for any who are still reading): I wrote the following on this blog in 2004 and find it true today in adding both Benedict and Francis to the list:

The economic system which has given us unprecedented leisure money has also broken our families. Unfortunately most are not willing to give up societal wealth in exchange for intact families. And most Conservative (and Catholic) Republicans don't understand that the economic system they champion has been instrumental in accelerating the breakup of the family. (Although admittedly, some good things have come out of this system.)

And I think this has been the concern of our Popes from Leo XIII to John Paul II with regard to capitalism, (as well as other economic systems).
(How conceited is that-to quote oneself!)
Oremus pro invicem!

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