Where can wisdom be found this week? The Olympics are over but Covid-19 keeps competing with our health, white nationalism challenges our democracy, climate crises are flooding some places, drying up others, and setting fire to forests. The lack of collaboration and cooperation continues to plague church and society as culture wars plague us.
Pope Francis’ August Call to Thinking Big
In the midst of all that’s happening, Pope Francis calls us to think globally by sustaining our commitment to evangelization. Each month he puts out a message and this month it’s about what he is establishing as the most important function of the Church: evangelization. His call may be a ramp up to his long-awaited announcement about how the Vatican Curia will be reorganized. Evangelization is expected to become the most powerful Congregation. You can read his text and watch a brief but engaging video of his message here: The Pope Video for August is about the Church’s specific vocation—evangelization.
Pax Christi USA honored Fordham theologian Fr. Bryan Massingale as the Teacher of Peace for 2021. As usual when he talks, he addresses the question and responds with clarity, challenging all who take the time to listen. White nationalism, exceptionalism, or supremacy continues its ugliness. Massingale considers it our worst threat … to nation and soul. All the videos of this year’s Pax Christi Conference are available here: 2021 Pax Christi USA National Conference.
Climate Crisis, Care for Our Common Home & Laudato Si’
Early this week the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report based on 14,000 scientific studies prepared by thousands of scientists and endorsed by 195 governments. It makes clear that our human community either takes climate change seriously or we will all roast, drown, or get blown away. It’s already happening.
Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman considers the report “terrifying.” He asserts that
Unless we take drastic action very soon, catastrophe looms.”
Florida’s U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, writes that “If we are to keep global temperatures in check, we urgently need to focus on cutting methane pollution.” Methane has 80 times the heat-generating power of carbon doxide. She argues much the same for natural gas because natural gas is made up of 85 to 90 percent methane and that methane leaks from extraction through pipleines to refineries.
Meanwhile Catholic faith calls us to respond if we truly love our Creator and accept our responsibility to Care for Creation. Pope Francis continues to call us to pay attention to the newly branded global Laudato Si Movement. Learn more about our call to Care for Our Common Home here.
Reducing Liturgical & Ecclesial War
Pope Francis sees the forces of Tridentine traditionalists as having abused the courtesy extended to them by Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI to the point that they are undermining the unity and mission of the Church as Vatican II defined it for our Modern World.
When combined with other mindsets stuck on the preeminence of abortion, other important issues are neglected and the role of the Church in society and culture gets distorted. Austen Ivereigh provides an excellent analysis of this situation, reminding us that there is no longer a Christendom either globally or nationally which causes many Christians, including Catholics, to think that their role is to restore Christendom by controlling government. Rather the role of the Church is to persuade our cultures, not our governments, that the message of the Gospels is the best way to live and for the human race to flourish.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to be as polarized among themselves as are Republicans and Democrats, often because of bias of one sort or another. An example is their focus on the issue of Eucharist while neglecting Pope Francis’ call for universal synodality, starting with every diocese and every national conference. There is little about synodality being talked about by our bishops who are supposed to starting synods in their dioceses this Fall. Christina Traini, a theologian at Fordham University, suggests that a great Spanish artist, Francesco Goya, who painted The Disasters of War, might help us. At least he does her. The negativity of Goya’s “Disasters” in his time followed by the Church’s survival can motivate us, the laity especially, in these conflictual times to think things through better than we are.
In other news on religion and rights
- Tom Lumpkin of the Archdiocese of Detroit gives us an example of what it means to be a “Poor Church of the Poor”. Tom, now retired, served as a Catholic Worker for most of his priesthood. Read: His parish was the poor: The Rev. Tom Lumpkin spent 40 years ministering to Detroit’s homeless
- The Catholic Church is failing LGBTQ persons, alienating them. Read: Catholic teaching supports nondiscrimination against LGBTQ community, statement says
- And when we all face the reality of death, the preferred patterns of burial are shifting from embalming to cremating to composting. The latter option opens the question of what is the best way for us to handle our return to the dust from which we have been created and fed, physically and spiritually. Read: Amid Catholic opposition, states are legalizing composting of human remains
- Franciscan Fr. Dan Horan, now at St. Mary’s at Notre Dame University, explains four ways Franciscan spirituality can help us “see” the word we live in “differently”. Read: Four Franciscan practices to help us ‘see differently’
- And finally this Wednesday is the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi, St. Francis earliest and closest religious. Together they made a life of poverty for both men and women meaningful and worthwhile. All Franciscans learned the sacredness of creation and invite us to do the same. Franciscan Media has made available a series of 2-3 minute mini-videos about St. Clare by one of her recent biographers. You can watch them here.
We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.
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