Pope doubles down on caring for migrants and the poor—answering critics inside and outside the Church

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Pope doubles down on caring for migrants and the poor—answering critics inside and outside the Church

Post by jserraglio » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:29 am

New York TimesVATICAN CITY — Caring for migrants and the poor is as holy a pursuit as opposing abortion, Pope Francis declared in a major document issued by the Vatican on Monday morning.

Pushing back against conservative critics within the church who argue that the 81-year-old pope’s focus on social issues has led him to lose sight of the true doctrine, Pope Francis again cast himself, and the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, in a more progressive light.

“The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist,” Pope Francis wrote in an apostolic exhortation on the subject of holiness issued Monday morning. “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”

The pope’s vision of holiness explicitly highlights migrants, whose plight he has sought to elevate to global attention perhaps more than any other issue.

“We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue,” he said.“Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions.”

“That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian,” he continued, adding that welcoming the stranger at the door was fundamental to the faith. “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.”

The pope’s 103-page document — an apostolic exhortation titled “Gaudete et Exsultate,” or “Rejoice and Be Glad” — is less authoritative than a papal encyclical, but is nevertheless an important teaching pronouncement. At its outset, Francis makes clear that it is not meant “to be a treatise on holiness” but to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time.”

As he put it elsewhere in the document, “Seeing and acting with mercy: That is holiness.” That statement is a distilled expression of Francis’ vision of the church, which is consistent with a view articulated by Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin, the archbishop of Chicago who died in 1996, and who called for a “consistent ethic of life” that wove issues of life and social justice into a “seamless garment.”

Throughout the document, Francis urges followers not to withdraw from the world but to engage with it, and to be less consumed with showy demonstrations of faith and piousness than with patiently and lovingly raising children, working hard to support families and representing what he called “the middle class of holiness.”

“In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant,” Francis wrote, using a phrase that has been appropriated by arch-conservatives critical of his papacy. The pope’s allies have described the fringe Catholic website Church Militant as openly in favor of political “ultraconservatism.”

But a majority of the document is a rumination on what constitutes an effective and true practice of holiness.

While he says “ the silence of prolonged prayer” is critical, Francis adds that holiness at times requires the faithful to be loud and active, and says it “is not healthy” to seek prayer while disdaining service.

He cautions against a cold reason untethered from spirituality, and warns against an overemphasis on the power of human will alone, “as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added.”

In doing so, he suggests that prosperity and power gospels fail to realize that not everyone can do everything. Holiness requires humility, he says, and a lack of “acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us.”

In a section of the document titled “Signs of Holiness in Today’s World,” the pope explicitly laments a modern culture that includes “the self-content bred by consumerism; individualism; and all those forms of ersatz spirituality — having nothing to do with God — that dominate the current religious marketplace.”

The pope, like many others, is also worried that social networks like Facebook feed into the hedonism and consumerism that “can prove our downfall” and are, in short, a waste of time.

“When we allow ourselves to be caught up in superficial information, instant communication and virtual reality, we can waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters,” he says.

At another point in the document, he expresses his concern for a contemporary culture that “offers immense possibilities for inaction and distraction.” He warns that “all of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios.”

And despite a recent controversy caused by a favorite, if infamously unreliable, narrator of the pope’s conversations, who asserted that the pontiff did not believe in hell, Francis indicated that he had no doubt the devil is real.

“We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea,” he writes. “This mistake would lead us to let down our guard.”

In the devil’s arsenal is the spreading of gossip, which the pope disdains, but he also expresses an intolerance for the intolerant and close-minded.

In what some Vatican watchers already interpreted as another poke at a small but vocal chorus of conservative critics inside the Vatican hierarchy, he bemoans those who would prefer a self-righteous and orthodox minority to the tough work of spreading peace by embracing “even those who are a bit odd, troublesome or difficult.”

“Sowing peace all around us,” he writes. “That is holiness.”


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Re: Pope doubles down on caring for migrants and the poor—answering critics inside and outside the Church

Post by Lance » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:28 am

The Pope touches on many facts about our society. The problem is, as I see it, those people who live off the "system," looking for handouts that are fully capable of working at something. Those that are infirmed, old, have no place to go, are sickly, are obviously in need of help, and in that department I do what I can. We give welfare to many (far too many, and it goes on for a long time) in the state of New York and other high residential states across our great land. But why cannot many of these people become, somehow, involved in the maintenance of a town, village or city as long as their help permits it? Sometimes, as we look around, it is difficult to truly distinguish who is in need and who is lazy trying to live off the system somehow. If this sounds heartless, it is not meant to be.
Lance G. Hill

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Re: Pope doubles down on caring for migrants and the poor—answering critics inside and outside the Church

Post by jserraglio » Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:05 am

The folks who really live off the system are middle and upper class. We benefit from a host of earned and unearned government subsidies too numerous to list here.

The Jesuit chaplain of the U.S. House of Reps, reprimanded as being too political for reciting an innocuous prayer for basic social justice, just got canned by Paul Ryan.

I wonder what Speaker Ryan would have made of Fr. Robert F. Drinan (Democrat of Massachusetts, 1971-81). Would he have refused to seat him? Would Ryan, a devout Catholic, invite Pope Francis to address Congress like his predecessor did, or does he now find the Pope's call for social justice for the poor and the migrant too "political"?

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