“Catholic Social Teaching constantly interferes with what moderns keep in their pants and worship as their highest good. No, not that: their wallets.”
A worldwide eucharistic adoration event will take place this Sunday, June 2. The event, anchored by the participation of Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, is supposed to take place simultaneously in churches throughout the world from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Rome time. The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, which is spearheading the event, has chosen the theme of “One Lord, One Faith,” “to testify to the deep unity that characterizes” the event.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella notes in the News.va report: “It will be an event occurring for the first time in the history of the Church, which is why we can describe it as ‘historical’. The cathedrals of the world will be synchronized with Rome and will, for an hour, be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration. There has been an incredible response to this initiative, going beyond the cathedrals and involving episcopal conferences, parishes, lay associations, and religious congregations, especially cloistered ones.”
Says the report: “From the Cook Islands to Chile, Burkina Faso, Taiwan, Iraq, Bangladesh, the United States, and the Philippines, the dioceses will be synchronized with St. Peter’s and will pray for the intentions proposed by the Pope.”
It is, to me, a fascinating and compelling idea. I like it. There’s an interesting conversation about it going on at the Pray Tell blog, focusing mainly on the advisability of the element of synchronicity. Was it wise to call for the observance to happen at the very same time all over the globe, even though that means it happens smack dab in the middle of Sunday morning parish Mass schedules all over the western hemisphere, and in the middle of the night in the far East? I’m inclined to think that it wasn’t. The idea of progressive global “wave” of eucharistic adoration washing across the planet, say at 5:00 pm local time everywhere, is equally compelling and far more practical.
The other problematic element to this is the poor planning and promotion of this. Have you heard of it? Had you heard of it before this week? Fisichella presented the details in a major press conference two days ago. There was a tiny trickle of information available just a bit before that. How are parishes around the globe to learn about, plan for, prepare, and promote events for their people with that kind of short notice?
Given the chance, I’m sure “news outlets” like the National Catholic Register, EWTN, etc, would have made loud noise about this for months, with all sorts of features, interviews, and columns. (As it is, there are 2 articles on the Register website about it, one from 2 weeks ago and one from yesterday.) I have no doubt many American bishops would also have played it up dramatically.Why wasn’t Archbishop Fisichella out giving interviews on this a month or two ago? Where’s the promotional video — or at least video comments from a smiling Fisichella — posted on YouTube? Tweets on the Pope’s Twitter account? This is being directed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, for heaven’s sake! The best they could do is a press conference less than a week in advance?
Someone might remind them that JP2 defined the new evangelization as “new in ardor, methods, and expression,” and also of the meaning of that other word in their name, promoting.
The other event highlighted at the same press conference by Fisichella — again, poor methodology here: he couldn’t have focused on the adoration event in one press conference a month ago, and highlighted the second event on its own in a separate press conference at another time? — is “Evangelium Vitae Day,” to be observed June 15-16. Another interesting and worthwhile effort. More on that here soon.
My goodness, be sure to watch the video of Bishop Michael Barber’s beautiful and dramatic comments at the close of his ordination Mass in Oakland on Saturday. They’ll be talking about that one for a while in that diocese. May God give him the grace to live up to the words he spoke.
Anyone who is familiar with the story of Archbishop Oscar Romero knows the name of Rutilio Grande. Fr. Grande’s murder by assassins associated with the Salvadoran military because of the ministry he was involved in was the catalyst of a dramatic conversion in Romero. His transformation from bookish ecclesiastic who was content with the status quo to outspoken defender of the oppressed poor of his homeland is sometimes called “Rutilio’s miracle.” That’s the extent that many of us know about Grande — he serves almost as a stage prop in the drama in which Romero is the central figure.
Thankfully, Thomas M. Kelly allows us to move far beyond that, putting flesh and blood on the name and exploring Grande’s ministry and significance in his own right, in his new book, When the Gospel Grows Feet: Rutilio Grande, SJ, and the Church of El Salvador; An Ecclesiology in Context. (Full disclosure: I work for Liturgical Press, the publishing company which published this book earlier this year.)
That last word in title, context, points to one of the rich contributions of the book. For those who don’t understand what Grande was up to or who might question the motivation or the orthodoxy of his thinking and his ministry, this book explores church and state relations in colonial Latin America, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Medellin conference of Latin American bishops, and Grande’s own personal theological-pastoral formation.
This is no simple biography. It is also an intimate portrait of the Church as it existed at a particular time in a particular place.
Kelly allows Grande to stand as the protagonist of his own drama. He helps us understand why Grande did what he did, what formed him into the priest he was, and why he and his work represented such a threat to the system that ultimately and successfully sought to destroy him. We look very closely at Grande’s pastoral style, his plan for the evangelization of the parish he served, and the doctrinal, theological, and sociological principles that undergirded it all.
I was especially interested to learn the important place that the Eucharist had in Grande’s thinking. For him, the Eucharist provides the vision for humanity’s place in creation and for what human society is intended to be. He spoke often and forcefully of how there was always space at the Eucharistic table for all who cared to gather, a standard which exposes the injustice of social structures that allow a few rich to own vast tracts of land that go unused (Kelly reports that at mid-twentieth century, nearly 90 percent of the land of El Salvador was owned and managed by fourteen families descended from the original Spanish conquistadores!!) while millions live lives beneath the dignity of any human person.
One thing that might perhaps be missing from Kelly’s account is a fleshing out of the relationship between Romero and Grande. Obviously, Grande’s death had an enormous impact on Romero. Why? What was the nature of their friendship and how did it develop? Understanding this better would make “Rutilio’s miracle” much more understandable. As it is, even after reading this book, Romero’s transformation as a response to Grande’s murder retains a bit of a deus ex machina flavor.
Kelly covers a lot of ground and shines his light in many directions in an effort (a quite successful one) to provide a full and understandable context to this story. This book will therefore be well worth the time for anyone interested in Catholic social teaching, ecclesiology, evangelization, the Second Vatican Council, lay ecclesial ministry, or the church in Latin America.
It seems clear that we will soon be seeing some significant movement in the cause for the canonization of Oscar Romero. Exploring the life and ministry of Rutilio Grande may well, therefore, provide a unique window into the mysterious workings of God’s grace in life of one of the great saints and martyrs of the twentieth century.
Depending on where you get your news, today Pope Francis slammed, attacked, denounced, ripped, hit out at, blasted, railed against, warned against, criticized, or condemned the “cult of money” that pervades much of the world economy. He was speaking to a group of diplomats at the Vatican. But if you think he was not speaking to each of us, you need to have another look.
But there’s no need for commentary or interpretation from me or the press. Francis does fine speaking for himself, clearly. Just read the thing! (Complete text/translation from here. I did the highlighting in bold below.)
I am pleased to receive you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See on the part of your respective countries: Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Botswana. The gracious words which you have addressed to me, for which I thank you heartily, have testified that the Heads of State of your countries are concerned to develop relations of respect and cooperation with the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to them my sentiments of gratitude and esteem, together with the assurance of my prayers for them and their fellow citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our human family is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.
The worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and above all the gravely deficient human perspective, which reduces man to one of his needs alone, namely, consumption. Worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have begun a throw away culture. This tendency is seen on the level of individuals and whole societies; and it is being promoted! In circumstances like these, solidarity, which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy. While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules. Moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. Added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless.
Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Ethics, like solidarity, is a nuisance! It is regarded as counterproductive: as something too human, because it relativizes money and power; as a threat, because it rejects manipulation and subjection of people: because ethics leads to God, who is situated outside the categories of the market. These financiers, economists and politicians consider God to be unmanageable, unmanageable even dangerous, because he calls man to his full realization and to independence from any kind of slavery. Ethics – naturally, not the ethics of ideology – makes it possible, in my view, to create a balanced social order that is more humane. In this sense, I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (Homily on Lazarus, 1:6 – PG 48, 992D).
Dear Ambassadors, there is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations. Money has to serve, not to rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics.
For her part, the Church always works for the integral development of every person. In this sense, she reiterates that the common good should not be simply an extra, simply a conceptual scheme of inferior quality tacked onto political programmes. The Church encourages those in power to be truly at the service of the common good of their peoples. She urges financial leaders to take account of ethics and solidarity. And why should they not turn to God to draw inspiration from his designs? In this way, a new political and economic mindset would arise that would help to transform the absolute dichotomy between the economic and social spheres into a healthy symbiosis.
Finally, through you, I greet with affection the Pastors and the faithful of the Catholic communities present in your countries. I urge them to continue their courageous and joyful witness of faith and fraternal love in accordance with Christ’s teaching. Let them not be afraid to offer their contribution to the development of their countries, through initiatives and attitudes inspired by the Sacred Scriptures! And as you inaugurate your mission, I extend to you, dear Ambassadors, my very best wishes, assuring you of the assistance of the Roman Curia for the fulfilment of your duties. To this end, upon you and your families, and also upon your Embassy staff, I willingly invoke abundant divine blessings.
I’m available for presentations, discussions, evenings of reflections, workshops, parish presentations, and more (though I do have work and family committments to be attentive to in making such arrangements). I have experience addressing groups of all sizes. The following suggested topics can be adapted to several different formats and lengths.
Catholic Social Teaching and the New Evangelization
Pope Francis and Catholic Social Teaching – See my OSV article here.
Pope Francis’s Preferential Option for the Poor – See my 6-part series of posts that starts here.
“The Church’s Dynamite” An overview of modern CST
Pro-Life, Consistently – Being anti-abortion implies a preferential option for the poor, the powerless, and the marginalized. And being committed to social justice means being anti-abortion, too.See my comments at these posts. This reviewer’s comments on my book are also quite relevant.
The Eucharist and Social Justice
The Most Influential American at Vatican II: John Courtney Murray – See my comments here.
“We Should Wear Crash Helmets” — An overview of the crucial place of the eucharistic prayer in Catholic life and worship.
Other topics are possible. Look over the list of “Categories” in the right hand column of this blog to see the topics that I’m most interested in these days. Email me at barryhudock[at]gmail.com for more information.
The latest issue of The Visitor, the St. Cloud diocesan newspaper, includes a very gracious full-page review of Faith Meets World, written by the paper’s editor, Bob Zyskowski. The article is available here, but the paper has kindly given me permission to reprint it below. Because it really captures what I’m trying to do with this book, I’d like to offer the whole thing (including some good points Mr. Zyskowski makes about some weak spots). My thanks to him and to The Visitor for the article!
Church’s social teaching is for everyone
Albany author explains its essential principles in a way that both liberals and conservatives will grasp and appreciate
By Bob Zyskowski, The Visitor
In our ideologically divided church, common ground for Catholics to stand on together can seem difficult to locate.
Catholics can be passionately prolife, staunch advocates for social justice, singularly pietistic, proponents of liberation theology, committed to the New Evangelization — and any combination of the above.
In the midst of the divisiveness, Barry Hudock, a parishioner of Seven Dolors in Albany, offers a point of view that sees these diverse passions as part of a single whole, a truly Catholic and catholic — big C and small c — whole.
Hudocks’s new book, “Faith Meets World,” published by Liguori, carries the subtitle “The Gift and Challenge of Catholic Social Teaching.” While that’s an apt description that will draw the attention to those on the more liberal or progressive side of the church aisle, those who take a more conservative point of view may choose to ignore this 143-page paperback.
That would be a shame.
Hudock does an excellent job of explaining not just Catholic social teaching in terms all can grasp, but how the principles of Catholic social teaching are based on traditional Catholic values, values cherished by both conservative and liberal Catholic. Plus, he takes a strong prolife stand.
“We’re not talking politics here,” Hudock writes. “We’re talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News that God offers to humanity about who God is, who we are, how we relate to God, and what that relationship means.”
He quotes Blessed Pope John Paul II, for example, who declared that “The ‘New Evangelization’ . . . must include among it essential elements a proclamation of the church’s social doctrine.”
“So this is not about which party we belong to,” Hudock declares, “not about being liberal or conservative. For Catholics, this is about being a person and also being Catholic. It’s about being the person God calls us to be in the society that God wants us to have.”
Catholic social teaching — Hudock teaches — is living out Jesus’ commandment to love one another in the context of society.
He explains just what that means with common language that makes “Faith Meets World” an excellent choice for a Catholic book club, for small groups and adult continuing education programs. The language is simple enough that the book would make a good text for high school-age faith formation, religion classes and youth ministry.
- The first of the social encyclicals, “Rerum Novarum,” was Pope Leo XIII’s response to the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. “Leo insisted,” Hudock notes, “that the willingness of people desperate for income to accept a low wage did not make paying such a wage morally right.”
- Another aspect of Pope Leo’s 1891 encyclical was the conviction that “people might be poor for reasons other than their own laziness, that the society around them might push them into poverty or prevent them from getting out of it.”
- In 1987 John Paul II noted in “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” that many people and nations remain poor not simply because they are “underdeveloped,” as though they simply have not been able to keep up with other more fortunate ones, “but because of unjust social structures that conspire to keep them poor.”
Facts well presented
Telling anecdotes and analogies bring home the message of the principles of Catholic social teaching.
Human dignity is a foundational principle based on the fact that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. The need for all to be concerned with human dignity is illustrated well when Hudock points out that millions of American workers were protected by labor laws, but migrant workers were specifically excluded for the law’s protection.
Solidarity, the other primary principle, is an awareness of the unity of the human family, but not just an awareness, Hudock tells us, but “the determination to act in such a way that it will bring good to the human community.”
As each following chapter takes on one of the remaining principles — human rights, the common good, the universal destination of goods, the preferential option for the poor and subsidiarity — there are good questions we all might ask ourselves, some worthwhile suggestions for actions we might take, and constant references to the 14 papal encyclicals and Scripture that form much of what the church teaches about how we are to live justly with others.
Considering the often difficult language of the encyclicals, Hudock thankfully paraphrases their teachings. He does a thorough job, too, of backing his writing with clearly annotated references to both the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible.
The final portion of “Faith Meets World” is where the rubber meets the road.
Hudock, who works for Liturgical Press in Collegeville, takes readers through applying Catholic social teaching to real life — in the family, in the area of work, in the economy, politics, the environment, peace and war and finally life and death.
Prolife at the core
Those whose passion is focused in the prolife area will especially appreciate how he connects abortion to the Catholic social teaching principle of solidarity.
”Being a person is never about looking our solely for ourselves with no regard for the well-being of others,” Hudock writes. “Solidarity is the exact opposite of the cynical individualism that demands a parent can do what she wants to ‘her body’ regardless of what it means to a child she carries.”
He adds, “The decisions of some of today’s most prominent Catholic social-justice leaders and Catholic social teaching advocates to ignore the issue of abortion is tragic. Their strident demands that the government has a clear and unquestionable duty and responsibility to protect and support immigrants, the unemployed, children and the elderly, but that what we do to unborn people is all a matter of personal choice, is terribly inconsistent.
“If preferential option for the poor means the most vulnerable among us need and deserve our help and protection, then legal protection of the unborn demands a primary place in our social-justice efforts.”
Careful readers will note that some of the suggestions for action fall on the simplistic side, that Hudock doesn’t let the church off the hook when it has been on the wrong side of what is moral, that some of his analogies are stronger than others, that he isn’t afraid of taking to tasks politicians who would have people pick and choose which of the Catholic social teaching principles to disregard.
Those careful readers will notice, too, that in “Faith Meets World” Hudock challenges us with questions that make us uncomfortable.
Just as Catholic social teaching should.