Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pope Francis to Focus on Social Justice in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO — A month ago, hundreds of thousands of young people took to the streets of Brazil to protest corruption, wasteful government spending, bad schools and hospitals, police brutality, and other abuses of power. On Monday, Pope Francis, in his first venture abroad, will dive into the middle of that ferment when he begins a weeklong visit to the world’s largest Roman Catholic country.

“This is a crucial moment for the church, the nation, society and the people, heightened by the fact this is Francis’ first trip,” said Fernando Altemeyer Jr., a theologian and philosopher at the Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo. “Brazil has changed and things are bubbling, but there is no clarity. Everything is new and unknown, in the country and the church, even for the bishops.”

Francis has endorsed the protests in general terms, and, according to European news reports, will do so again more emphatically and specifically this week. Church officials here declined to confirm those reports, but they said that two Brazilian cardinals, Cláudio Hummes and Raymundo Damasceno Assis, have been working closely with the Vatican to assure that Francis’ declarations on social justice here will convey sympathy both for the protest demands and those involved in the movement.
Read the rest here.

There is a great deal that I admire about this Pope including his very real modesty and concern for the poor. I also like (no surprise) his deemphasizing of the imperial papacy in favor of his role as Bishop of Rome. That said, he does seem to be rather narrowly focused on the social justice issue and some of his views put him way to the left in political and economic terms. Also there has been scant emphasis on church doctrine, discipline and morals since his accession to the papal throne. Has he even addressed the issue of abortion once since then? One also notes the Vatican seems to have gone largely silent on the subject of gay marriage. And while his personal lifestyle is commendable, his extremely "low church" approach to liturgy is disquieting. It seems to hint at the end of the liturgical counterrevolution that followed decades of horrific abuses in the name of Vatican II.

Still, it's early days. I suspect we will have a clearer picture of things next summer.


Anonymous said...

Love your concerns and priorities.

Nikolaus said...

I get what you are saying and mostly agree. Obviously every pontiff brings his personal agenda into the office. As I'm not a Roman Catholic, I am in no position to comment but by emphasizing his role as the Bishop of Rome, I feel like he does not grasp his universal role. He may be in water too deep for him.

Anonymous said...

There is a good chance I am less enthused about this Pontiff than you are. With that said, however, a few things...

First, I have seen a lot of folks -- including traditionalist Catholics -- speak of Francis' "leftist" economic and political views, but a lot of that strikes me as imposing secular political categories on this Pope's authentically Catholic vision of social justice. To the extent that Francis maintains on the path first struck by Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, how can his policies be traced to the contemporary secular Left? Moreover, we don't even really know what those policies are except -- shockingly -- the rich should be concerned with the poor. I think the more interesting question is whether he can put his concern for the poor into concrete terms in the way Benedict XVI was able to with his social encyclicals.

Second, I don't think it's fair to say he is only concerned or even overwhelmingly concerned with social justice issues. Many of his sermons witness to the reality of evil, the devil, trials and corruption in the Church, etc. The social justice stuff gets a lot of circulation in the press because it's something liberals and Leftists can, in theory, "get behind" (or at least not find revolting). However, their decision to emphasize that aspect of Francis' message does not mean there isn't more to it.

Third, I don't think the Pope's liturgical tastes will affect what you aptly call the liturgical counter-revolution. That counter-revolution continues even now. B16 provided a great gift to the Church in Summoroum Pontificum, but it is up to the laity and the clergy on the ground to see it through; there isn't going to be a top-down mandate, at least not in these early days of reintroducing the Tridentine Mass to the Catholic Faithful (an act which is also having a positive effect on the Novus Ordo Mass). What we probably won't see during this pontificate is further instructions in this matter, and that's fine. The work of Summorum Pontificum is far from complete; there's no need right now to make any additional decrees.

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis knows what he's doing. There are two kinds of progressive Catholics. Those who want to move beyond Jesus, the New Age Shirley Mclaine types and the ones who do not. I do see a liberal schism coming, since they can no longer play the us vs them card.


MAP said...

"Many of his sermons witness to the reality of evil, the devil, trials and corruption in the Church"

As well as his emphatic Marian spirituality. How soon we forget.

The Rad Trad said...

I think people's concern over his liturgical praxis is justified. Paul VI said a heavily modernized
"traditional" Mass at Yankee Stadium in 1965. John Paul II celebrated the new Roman rite there in 1979. Alexander Schmemman, who used to pop into St. Charles in Paris for the old low Mass regularly, commented that despite the modernizations and the absurd setting the message in the first Mass still came across as celestial, while in the second Mass the message was very much the "message"—social work, global issues etc.