Author and theologian George Weigel says to understand the future of the Roman Catholic Church, one has to look back a century and a half to reforms put in place by Pope Leo XIII. George Weigel tells Steve Paikin what this version of the church looks like and how it will respond to modernity. Watch the full interview below:
By Aaron Gaglia (@GagliaAC)
Faith leaders from all backgrounds are weighing in on the new Pope Francis. As he is the first pope to be South American, Jesuit, and be named Francis, many are offering their thoughts on these developments. Others are weighing in on his traditional view on homosexuality and giving their hopes for changes he will bring to the church. From the plurality of voices, I offer you the commentary of two Christian Scholars on Pope Francis’ identification with the poor.
Renowned Christian ethicist and pacifist, Dr. Stanley Hauerwas spoke these words about the new pope:
“It’s remarkable that they’ve chose a Jesuit to be Pope. That’s even more remarkable than choosing a non-European. That he was a Jesuit says so much about his commitments to the Poor. And that he’s taken the name of Francis to, I think, clearly gesture that the Roman Catholic Church is not just a church that serves the poor. The Roman Catholic Church is church of the poor. My hunch is that many of the agendas that are associated with American Catholicism will not exactly be his agendas.”
Rather than merely loving the poor as the other, Pope Francis lives in such a way that shows the poor they are welcomed and valued members of the church. And how did Pope Francis showed this commitment to the poor? The very simple and counter-cultural lifestyle he lived as a Cardinal clearly showed this commitment.
On Current TV’s “Viewpoint”, liberal Episcopal theologian, John Shelby Spong explained the new Pope’s lifestyle in this way: “He also expresses some negativity toward pomp and circumstance, which I think is terribly important. He lives in an apartment not a palace, he cooks for himself…he rides the public transportation bus.” He did not accept the lavishness of lifestyle as the requirement for the lavish role of Cardinal, choosing rather to live simply.
After explaining the opulent lifestyle and garb associated with the Pope, Spong said, “And then we (the church) say, ‘Oh but by the way we’re in the ministry of servant hood.’ The medium violates all of those values. Now this man still has the externals, but he clearly has made an identification with the poor that I think we ought to applaud and I’m grateful for that.”
So now that Francis is Pope, what type of lifestyle will he live? Will he refuse some of the pomp associated with the Papacy? Or will he accept the Papal lifestyle and show his commitment to the poor in other ways? And what will his commitment to the poor mean for the Roman Catholic Church? I am very interested to see the answers to these questions unfold in the coming days and weeks.
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Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Catholicism, CNN, Institute on Religion and Democracy, IRD Blog, John L. Allen, Nathaniel Torrey, Notre Dame University, persecuted Christians, religious freedom, religious liberty, The IRD
Icon of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen. (source: holy-icons.com)
by Nathaniel Torrey
On the eve of the election, Notre Dame University hosted a conference highlighting the rise of Christian persecution and martyrdom in the 21st century entitled, “Seed of the Church: Telling the Story of Today’s Christian Martyrs.” The conference had two keynote addresses, one given by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and John L. Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a Senior Analyst at CNN.
Archbishop Viganò’s lecture focused on the treatment of Christians in the United States, mainly in regards to the Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) and the increasing number of states that have legalized gay marriage. He cautioned us that religious freedom, as described in such encyclicals as Dignitatus Humanae, is at risk even in a liberal democratic country such as the United States. Echoing the teachings of Pope John Paul II, he implored Catholics and other Christians to guard against “the totalitarianism of a democracy-without-values, values that must be based on the timeless and universal moral principles adhered to and taught by our Church because these principles are founded on the Truth of Christ which came to set us free!”
Allen’s address focused on the persecution of Christians abroad, what he called “the most compelling narrative of our time.” It is also the most under reported narrative despite the alarming death toll that persecution in countries like Iraq, Syria, and India has accumulated. The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) claims that the intolerance of Christians accounts for nearly 80 percent of all violations of religious freedom in the world. Though such numbers are staggering, Christian persecution has the unfortunate place of what the French intellectual Regis Debray, whom Allen quoted, calls, “the ideological blind spot of the West. The victims are too Christian to excite the left, too foreign to interest the right.”
In addition to humanitarian efforts, such as directing aid and helping refugees, we need to be praying for those Christians abroad. Allen recalls that before Vatican II there were prayers for the Christians being persecuted in Soviet Russia said in Mass. “It had the effect of lifting up the church of the catacombs behind the Iron Curtain in our imagination and prayer on behalf of persecuted Christians can have that effect as well.” By doing this, we can remind ourselves that there are many Christians in the world who do not have it nearly as easy as we do in America. We also have to guard ourselves against the eroding of religious liberty in our own country as well.
Transcripts and video from the conference can be found here.
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by Andrew Walker
With Paul Ryan announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate for Vice-President on Saturday, many are speculating about the role that Ryan’s Catholic faith will play out in the election. Ryan’s Catholicism could well be the necessary linchpin in consolidating the GOP’s social conservative segment, a constituency that has offered tepid endorsement of Governor Romney up to this point. Ryan possesses potent social conservative credentials with his strong pro-life record and his defense of traditional marriage. What could give social conservatives concern, however, is Ryan’s sanguine comments and lifelong fascination with the atheist philosopher Ayn Rand. Rand was a proponent of “Objectivism,” a philosophy accused of lacking compassion, being insensitive and condemnatory of the poor.
(Read more here)