Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 19, 2013

LION AND THE LAMB:

CROSSVILLE — Last Wednesday, March 23, a remarkable event took place. The first non-European pontiff since the Middle Ages (and the first one from Latin America) was elected in a conclave of cardinals in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. To everyone's surprise, in less than 24 hours the black smoke had been replaced by white.

The newly elected pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, was also the first one to choose the name Francis. He related later that when his Brazilian friend, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, congratulated him, Hummes had said to him "Don't forget about the poor."

And that's how Bergoglio began thinking particularly about the example of St. Francis of Assisi. "St. Francis," he commented, "was the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation—and in this moment we don't have such a great relationship with creation." He mentioned to journalists that he was immediately inspired to take the name of St. Francis, adding that he himself would like to see "a poor church and a church for the poor."

This wasn't such a far-fetched dream for the new pope. He was the son of middle-class Italian immigrants who had moved to Buenos Aires. As cardinal he had refused the luxuries that previous cardinals had enjoyed. Instead, he had lived in a simple apartment, cooked his own meals, rode a public bus to work, and regularly visited poor people in the slums. He had always considered social outreach, and not doctrinal battles, to be the essential focus of the church.

It is in this area of helping his church become more faithfully "a church for the poor," however, that Pope Francis will find his greatest challenge. In the past he has spoken about economic inequities in a profit-driven world, but the church has too often ended up concentrating on binding up the wounds of the wounded poor. Today those in poverty need more than compassionate almsgiving and charitable generosity. They need distributive justice and systematic approaches to the problem of poverty.

The liberation theology movement, originating in Latin America, has become a special point of contention in the Roman Catholic Church. Priests, theologians,and lay people have been active in this movement in recent years, focusing on gospel imperatives and the need for systemic change while working at the grassroots community level. They have been accused by the church hierarchy, however, for being more concerned about social practice than about the right teachings of the church. Both Benedict and Francis have been very critical of this movement.

Along these lines Pope Francis will find another major challenge in the current doctrinal battles taking place in the church. He supports the Vatican's conservative views on women's issues such as birth control and women's ordination. He has called both contraception and abortion part of a "culture of death," shown no tolerance for homosexuality, and described same-sex marriages as a "scheme to destroy God's plan."

One of the major problems confronting him is the current sexual scandal in the church's leadership. Here is where women as wives of priests and as priests themselves could be of great help to the patriarchal church. Since celibacy is considered a practice but not a doctrinal tenet, the Pope and the Curia, by making it optional, could provide an improved healthy environment for the church's leadership. And honor the precedent that the married apostle Peter provided the church.

One more positive step Pope Francis could take would be to begin working more closely with the Leadership Conference on Women Religious. Many of its members are already serving on the front lines of a "church for the poor." Sometime in the distant future there may be a time when women will have become full members of the church, and even some LCWR members will have become cardinals. And maybe, just maybe, there may be a time when the black smoke is replaced by smoke that is pink.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice