Posts Tagged ‘pope francis’

Church of the Dispossessed – Part III

In Political, Religion, Social on March 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm

 …in need of a Theology of Liberation


Joseph Ratzinger was a trusted lieutenant of John Paul II.  He was the able administrator  of Catholic orthodoxy.  When he was elected pope in 2005, it was widely believed, that he would extend the conservative reign of the previous two popes.

A challenge of geographic representation:

About 7% of the world’s Catholics are in North America,  24% in Europe, 15% in Africa, 11% in Asia and a whopping 42% in Latin America.  In 1970, 40% of Catholics were in Europe.  Today that has declined to 24%.  The center of numeric gravity has already shifted from Europe to LatAm, over the years.  But the papal make-up has never reflected that tectonic shift.  The flock has continued to be lead by a shepherd not their own.

A challenge of theology:

The First Vatican Council of 1870 was a conservative response to the modern world that was  bustling with scientific revolution and emerging from the French revolution and beginning to steep into European nationalism.  This First Council adopted the doctrine of papal infallibility and condemns the following:  liberalism, science and the separation of church and state.  It rejected the world view.  It emphasized a monologue with itself and took a position of exclusion.

The Second Vatican Council of 1962, sought to open the windows to let in some fresh air.  It emphasized a dialog with the world and attempted to take a position of inclusion.  It adopted the following:  There exists a salvation outside of Catholicism, built bridges of understanding with Judaism and Protestantism.  It changed the language of the Mass from Latin to regional vernacular dialects.  The most visibly arresting of them all, was the priest turned 180 degrees, to now face the congregation instead of facing the altar.  Some of the important First World issues were sunk by the two popes that held a conservative sway:  Homosexuality, contraception and women priests.  These, by the way, were not Third World issues!  The third world tended to be much more conservative on issues related to sexuality and gender.

The challenges ahead:

The new pope has to initiate inter-faith dialogues between the Judeo-Christian-Muslim worlds to bring harmony and peace to a world at war with each other.  He has to take a firm stand against pedophilia and sexual abuses by the clergy.  The church’s first response is towards the victims of abuse.  He has to set the financial house in order.  He needs to be cognizant of the new emerging balance of power in the world.  He needs to invite a disillusioned youth back into the church.  Sending one way tweets and working the social media is a narrow strategy, if the reality on the ground is that your clergy is not in talking terms with the youth of today.

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@Pontifex Habemus Papum Franciscum – We have Pope Francis – Part II

In Music, Religion on March 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected in a surprise choice to be the new leader of the troubled Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, taking the name Francis and becoming the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.

[When I penned the part preceding this segment, four months ago, I ended it with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi.  That quote and the saint proved to be accidentally prescient!]

He takes his papal name from a thirteenth century frair – St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis took to a vow of poverty and preached the gospel in street corners. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment, and is one of the two patron saints of Italy. He took to nursing lepers in Assisi. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he joined the poor in begging at the doors of the churches, he said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him,

Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.

He took this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, and so he sold some cloth from his father’s store to assist the priest there for this purpose.

A very touching prayer attributed to him is the hymn Make me a channel of your peace. This rendition of his prayer by Sinead O’Connor, to me represents an acute pain that needs to be healed now:


Make me a channel of your peace:

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul!

Make me a channel of your peace:
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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