Vatican City, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The first graduating class of the U.S.-based John Paul II Catholic High School celebrated by making a pilgrimage to Rome – a trip the students wanted and planned themselves.
“We're all going separate directions and it's going to be hard to stay as close as we've been, but it's so amazing to end our experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” Haylee McArthur told CNA June 11.
Coming from Greenville, North Carolina, the 16 members of John Paul II Catholic High School's first graduating class were present in St. Peter's Square for Pope Francis' June 11 general audience.
Having already been in Italy for 9 days out of their 10 day trip, McArthur said that the highlight of her experience was seeing the Pope that afternoon.
“We were near the barriers, so we saw him when he rode by,” she said, recalling how he waved to them as he passed by in the pope mobile.
“It was so amazing, I did not think we would get to see him so close. I thought we were just going to have to wait for hours and see him from a distance, but we got within like 10 feet of him! It was so cool.”
Another key moment, she said, was seeing the Sistine Chapel, “because I really like Michelangelo’s art, and it was unbelievable that we were actually in there.”
Having just entered the Catholic Church four years ago along with her grandmother, McArthur said that she chose to attend John Paul II High School because she started attending Catholic school in the fourth grade and “most of what I know was going to a Catholic school.”
“The way they described the school was that it was a new experience with bigger leadership roles, and a way to really branch out,” McArthur explained, “and I didn’t want to go to just another public school where they just spit you through like a factory.”
Describing how she feels that she has received a better education at John Paul II than she would have at a public school, the youth noted that “we've learned so many things than I think public schools do.”
“We've learned things like a greater sense of community, and we've read things that are a higher reading material,” she observed, drawing attention to a class the high school held this year in which they read “classic literature and had a thesis discussion on it...you can't find that at a public school.”
Also present along with the students was the high school's principle, John Donahue, who has been in charge of the school for the past two and a half years.
To be with the students in Rome after accompanying them and seeing the high school's first class graduate was “an absolute thrill” Donahue said.
“It's absolutely thrilling and I think it (was) really kind of inspired by John Paul II; to come to Rome, to be educated in the faith, and to go out and engage the world, challenge the world.”
Referring to how he has been in the field of Catholic education for 30 years, the principle noted that when the high school was founded just four years ago “it was really founded by the community of Catholics in Greenville.”
“They've been wanting a Catholic high school for a long time and the bishop gave them the opportunity to do it, and so we’ve begun.”
Coming to Rome, he said, “was actually the students' idea,” adding that “they wanted to come to Rome and they've been planning this for a number of years now. So this is really the culmination of their education and the culmination of their senior year.”
Explaining how he had only been in Rome once before when he was younger, Donahue noted that the experience of coming with the students is “just so exciting, it’s almost overwhelming, it’s almost too much.”
“I'm looking forward to going home and just absorbing it all, and thinking about it and reflecting on it.”
The principle reflected on the fruits of the trip for both the students and the school, expressing his hope that the class remains “close throughout their lives, and that this was an experience they all came together for and deepened their faith, and that it’s a foundation for them moving forward.”
Vatican City, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
After three years of waiting to be confirmed, Clemence Figeac was asked to read an intention of the faithful during Pope Francis' Pentecost Mass, just two days after receiving the sacrament.
“It was very beautiful,” Figeac told CNA June 9, “especially because first there was a little rehearsal the day before, and the person in charge of the liturgy said that our reading had to be a prayer.”
The liturgy director had stressed to Figeac that “we had to feel all words and pray because we are in prayer and we could help people pray. There is a communication in our way of pronouncing or speaking,” she said, “and this is beautiful because it says there is a desire to pray.”
“One feels really moved in this prayer and in this Mass in a certain different way,” Figeac noted, explaining that while she read she prayed to the Holy Spirit to inspire those that heard her.
Hailing from the small town of Lille in northern France, 28-year-old Figeac grew up Catholic but had been distant from the Church, only discovering the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation four years ago.
Figeac said she felt the desire to receive her confirmation and “participate in the second living element in the Church” two years ago, so she moved to Rome in order to study. While there she met a priest from her hometown, Fr. Fabien Lambert, who serves as the chaplain for the Centro San Lorenzo, an international center for youth founded in 1983 by Pope Saint John Paul II.
“We met by chance and the encounter was very beautiful, like a city from heaven” she said. “I immediately told him about my desire to be confirmed, and he really accompanied me and helped me, although he would always wait for a sign on my part.”
Figeac said she finally made the decision after receiving a message from Fr. Lambert one day asking if she had found a priest and a parish where she could arrange it.
“So I did my Confirmation at the Centro San Lorenzo with this priest that prepared me” she said, noting that she was confirmed by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council of the Laity just last Friday.
“It was a beautiful moment because you can see that he is a man of faith," she said of Cardinal Rylko, "So this Mass had so much meaning.”
Figeac said “before I didn’t know the Church, I didn’t value the importance of the Church, I didn’t see the meaning of the Church.” But when she finally “met the Holy Spirit,” she said she “had the will to discern the faith more, understand my faith” and “I really became Catholic.”
“I believe that this sacrament carries you toward a second element: to participate in creating the Church. It allows you to live your faith. It gives you the strength to live your Christian life” she said.
So “as a gift, they proposed that I read an intention of the faithful in the Holy Father’s Pentecost Mass.”
Pentecost is a Greek term referring to the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The Sacrament of confirmation is a re-living of this descent into the heart of the one who receives it.
Figeac revealed that another great motivation to receiver her confirmation is her work, because “I would like to work for the Church and give myself in service.”
“So the fact that the Holy Spirit helps you to have a role in the Church, I see it more in the role of my work.”
“I would like to be an element, to try to do something placing myself at the service” of the Church, she explained, adding that “everyone tries to do that, without doing big things, but at least the minimum.”
Figeac plans to move back to France in just under two weeks where she and her fiancée will plan their wedding.
St. Louis, Mo., Jun 12, 2014 (CNA) -
The Archdiocese of St. Louis criticized “inaccurate and misleading” reports suggesting that Archbishop Robert Carlson did not know sexual relations with children were illegal; the archdiocese said his deposition responses were instead focused on mandatory reporting laws.
“Contrary to what is being reported, Archbishop Carlson is and has been a leader in the Church when it comes to recognizing and managing matters of sexual abuse involving the clergy,” the archdiocese said June 11.
It highlighted his 1980 letter on a sexually abusive priest in which he said “this behavior cannot be tolerated.”
On June 9, attorney Jeff Anderson released a videotaped deposition of the St. Louis archbishop concerning damages for a Minnesota lawsuit involving allegations of a sexually abusive priest in the 1980s. Archbishop Carlson was an auxiliary bishop and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul at the time.
The archdiocese said that although Anderson, the plaintiff’s lawyer, made several questions at the deposition concerning whether the archbishop knew sexual relations between a minor and an adult were against the law at the time, the archbishop’s answers were referring to the previous question. That question concerned whether he knew Minnesota’s child abuse reporting law and whether he knew that clergy were mandatory abuse reporters.
“When the Archbishop said ‘I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,’ he was simply referring to the fact that he did not know the year that clergy became mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse,” the archdiocese said.
Archbishop Carlson’s attorney, Charles Goldberg, had objected to Anderson’s sudden shift from mandatory reporting laws to laws criminalizing sexual relations with minors.
Anderson, who has won judgments of hundreds of millions of dollars through sex abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church, released an excerpt of the video on June 9.
The video showed the archbishop responding “I don’t remember” to several of Anderson’s questions about whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sexual relations with a minor.
The archdiocese said that the plaintiff’s lawyer “strategically took Archbishop Carlson’s response to a question out of context.”
The excerpted video was widely viewed and prompted many responses.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch’s editorial board published a harshly critical editorial contending that the archbishop used “slippery language” that is normally used by “lawyered-up mobsters, politicians or Wall Street fraudsters.”
It criticized what it described as the archbishop’s inability to remember his actions and thoughts in the 1980s, suggesting that if the archbishop can’t remember, “he should resign and seek treatment for Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.”
However, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said that the archbishop “had repeatedly requested and was denied the ability to review case documents pertaining to the questions asked of him” and is “now being maligned for his inability to recall certain events.”
Bill Donohue of the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights on June 11 charged that the video clip was “rigged by Anderson to make the archbishop look as if he didn't know it was a crime for an adult to have sex with a kid.”
Donohue said that the news media “led by the Post-Dispatch, published Anderson’s propaganda as if it were true.”
“It is obvious that the media never independently verified Anderson's selective account,” he said.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis said that the archbishop is not a party in the case and did not commit any crime. He previously gave depositions concerning the case at least three times in the 1980s.
“He has not only voluntarily participated in this legal process, he has offered his testimony as clearly and thoughtfully as possible, given both the span of time in which this discovery process has taken place and accessibility to certain documents,” the archdiocese said.
The archdiocese said the reporting on the deposition and the controversy has “impugned Archbishop Carlson’s good name and reputation.”
Khartoum, Sudan, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum has urged Sudanese authorities to review the legal case of Meriam Ibrahim, a Catholic woman who faces a death sentence for allegedly abandoning Islam.
“The fact of the matter is that Meriam did not abandon the Islamic faith but rather she, in the first place, did not follow the Islamic religion since her childhood,” Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, episcopal vicar for the archdiocese’s Khartoum region, said June 11.
He said the archdiocese has “deep regret” over the way the case was handled “in disregard to Meriam’s moral and religious belief.” He noted that Sudan’s interim constitution guarantees religious freedom.
Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging for abandoning Islam on May 11, 2014. She also could face 100 lashings for adultery on the grounds that her marriage to her Christian husband is not valid.
The Khartoum archdiocese called the death sentence “stunning” and called on authorities to bring the case to “a reasonable end.”
Fr. Kacho’s statement said that Ibrahim’s Muslim father abandoned the family when she was five, and she was raised by her mother as an Orthodox Christian.
“Never in her life did she embrace the Islamic religion or renounce it. She has never been a Muslim in her life,” he said.
Ibrahim “is still in Omdurman prison, practically on death row, breast feeding her child in chains,” he said.
She is being pressured to renounce Christianity but she is refusing, according to reports.
The archdiocese said that Ibrahim joined the Catholic Church in 2011 soon before she married her Catholic husband, Daniel Wani, at the Holy Family Chapel under St. Matthew Cathedral. The couple has a 20-month-old son, and Ibrahim gave birth to a daughter in prison on May 28.
The couple owns several businesses in Ghedaref, including a barbershop, a market and an agricultural project. Daniel Wani, Ibrahim’s husband, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in New Hampshire.
Ibrahim was arrested in September 2013 after allegations from “a group of men who claim to be Meriam’s relatives” that the couple was not married validly under Shariah law on the grounds that she was born a Muslim. However, Ibrahim had never seen the men before, according to Fr. Kacho.
A lawyer hired by Ibrahim’s husband dropped the case due to “mounting pressure from the accusers.” Ibrahim is now being represented by the Justice Center for Advocacy.
Vatican City, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In a video message Pope Francis sent for the start of the World Cup, he outlined the importance of good sportsmanship, stating that this attitude helps in building a more peaceful society.
“My hope is that, in addition to the feast of sports, this World Cup becomes the feast of solidarity between peoples,” the Roman Pontiff stated in his June 12 video message.
Aired on Brazilian television stations, the Pope’s address was read in Portuguese to honor of the country where the games are taking place, beginning today with a match between Brazil and Croatia, and concluding with the final game July 13.
Beginning his address, the Pope greeted “with great joy” all “lovers of soccer” and offered a warm salutation to the organizers of the event, as well as all those who will both participate in and watch the games, either in person or elsewhere.
Expressing his hope that the event will be a “feast of solidarity between peoples,” the pontiff explained that in order for this to happen, “the soccer competitions must be considered for what they are based on.”
“A game and at the same time an opportunity for dialogue, understanding and reciprocal human enrichment.”
This sport, he said, “is not only a form of entertainment, but also – and above all I would say – a tool to communicate values, promote the good of the human person and help build a more peaceful and fraternal society.”
Observing how there are “many values and attitudes fostered by soccer that are important not only on the field, but in all aspects of life, specifically in peace building,” Pope Francis invited listeners to think about the values of “loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing, solidarity.”
“Sport is a school of peace,” he noted, “it teaches us to build peace.”
Going on, the Bishop of Rome drew attention to the different lessons we learn in sports that can help to foster peace, stating that “three essential attitudes” are “the need to ‘train,’ ‘fair play’ and honor among competitors.”
“Sport teaches us that in order to win, you have to train,” he stated, pointing out that “by playing sports, we can see a metaphor of our lives.”
“In life, you have to fight, to ‘train,’ to strive in order to obtain important results,” therefore sportsmanship “becomes an image of the necessary sacrifices in order to grow in the virtues that build the character of a person.”
Bringing attention to the importance playing fair, the Roman Pontiff explained that in sports we need to learn “what ‘fair play’ in soccer has to teach us.”
“To play in a team, it is necessary to consider first the good of the group, not on one’s self,” the Pope observed, stating that “In order to win, it is necessary to overcome individualism, selfishness and all forms of racism, intolerance and instrumentalization of the human person.”
“It isn’t only in soccer that being ‘greedy’ is an obstacle to the success of the team,” he noted, “because when we are ‘greedy’ in life, ignoring the people around us, the whole society is harmed.”
A final element of sports that helps us to foster peace “is to have honor among competitors,” the pontiff said, adding that “The secret of victory in the field, but also in life, is to learn to respect the colleagues of your team, but also your opponent.”
“No one wins alone, neither in the field nor in life! Let no one feel excluded or isolated!”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis prayed that the World Cup 2014 will “take place with complete serenity and tranquility, always with mutual respect, solidarity and brotherhood among men and women who recognize themselves as members of the same family.”
Vatican City, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his daily homily, Pope Francis reflected on true brotherly love, explaining that if we really want to love one another we need to be realistic and willing to compromise for the sake of keeping peace.
“In our day we think that ‘not killing our brother’ means simply not actually murdering him – but no – not killing our brother means not (even) insulting him,” the Pope stated in his June 12 daily Mass, adding that “The insult comes from the same root of the crime: hatred.”
Taking his cue from the day’s Gospel passage in Matthew during which Jesus states that one must reconcile with their brother before leaving their gift at the altar, Pope Francis recalled how Jesus said we must love our neighbor, but not in the way of the Pharisees, “because they were ideologues.”
Explaining how their attitude “was not love” but rather “indifference toward one’s neighbor,” the Roman Pontiff observed that Jesus “gives us three criteria” on how to truly love.
“First, a criterion of realism: of sane realism. If you have something against another and you cannot fix, look for a (compromise) solution at least,” and try to find a way “to get along with your adversary while you’re on the road,” the Pope encouraged.
“It will not be ideal, but a compromise agreement is a good thing. It is realism.”
Reaching an agreement is a good thing, the Bishop of Rome continued, explaining that “one must make a deal – and one takes a step, the other takes another step and at least there is peace: a very (imperfect) peace, but a peace agreement” nonetheless.
Jesus, he said, also tells us this and praises “the ability to make agreements between ourselves and overcome the ‘holier-than-thou attitude’ of the Pharisees,” adding that when we make compromises, “we put a stop to hate and strife among us.”
Speaking of the importance of having coherence with others, the Pope warned that “to speak ill of someone is to kill the other, because the act is rooted in hatred all the same.”
Noting how often today many think that to kill one’s brother means to kill him only in the physical sense, Pope Francis explained that even the person who gossips and “who calls his brother stupid is killing his brother, because the act is rooted in hate.”
“If you do not hate, and you would not kill your enemy, your brother, then do not insult him either.”
Observing how it is “a common habit among us is to seek out things to find insulting,” the Roman Pontiff described how there are some “who, in their hatred, express their hate through insults with great flourish – and that hurts.”
“Let us be realistic: the criterion of realism; the criterion of coherence. Do not kill, do not insult.”
Moving on to his final point, the Pope explained that the third criterion Jesus gives us to love “is a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.”
If we are not allowed to kill our brother, it is because we have the same father he pointed out, saying that “I cannot go to the Father if I do not have peace with my brother.”
“Do not talk to the Father if you are not at peace with your brother – if you do not have at least a compromise agreement,” the Bishop of Rome went on, reiterating how there are three criteria: “a criterion of realism; a criterion of coherence, meaning not to kill and not even to insult, because those who insult kill; and a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.”
“One cannot talk to the Father if one cannot even speak to one’s brother,” he said, “and this means overcoming the holier-than-thou attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees.”
“This program is not easy, is it? Though, it is the way that Jesus tells us to keep going.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis asked for the grace “to move forward in peace among ourselves, with compromises, and always with coherence and in a spirit of fraternity rooted in sonship.”
Phoenix, Ariz., Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A 28-year-old priest was shot and killed, and another critically wounded, at a Catholic church in Phoenix Wednesday night.
The Diocese of Phoenix released a statement early Thursday morning identifying the slain priest as Father Kenneth Walker, the associate pastor at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission located near the Arizona state capitol.
The pastor, Father Joseph Terra, 56, is in critical but stable condition. Both priests belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
“We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night against Fr. Joseph Terra and Fr. Kenneth Walker,” the statement said. “We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish.”
Police responded to a burglary call from Father Terra shortly after 9 p.m. at 16th Avenue and Monroe Street at the Mater Misericordiae Mission, according to Arizona Central.
“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace,” the diocese said.
Requiem Masses will be offered for Fr. Walker on Monday, June 16.
Santiago, Chile, Jun 12, 2014 (CNA) -
In a radical policy shift, the government of Chile will alter its human rights stance at the United Nations by abandoning the defense of life from the moment of conception and accepting the legalization of abortion in several circumstances.
According to documents obtained by the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, Chilean representatives to the U.N. will accept a pro-abortion policy and break with the pro-life policy of former president Sebastian Pinera at a presentation to the United Nations in Geneva on June 19.
In January, Chile underwent the United Nations’ universal periodic review on human rights issues. The process evaluates the record of each member state of the United Nations every four years. Chile received 185 recommendations from other U.N. member states.
Some of the countries pressed for the change on abortion. Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium said Chile should adopt measures to legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is endangered.
The administration of President Sebastian Pinera, who left office March 11, previously rejected similar recommendations.
However, that policy will be replaced by a new document drafted by the administration of the recently elected President Michelle Bachelet, who has embraced all the recommendations on abortion.
The document justifies the new position on the grounds that “the Chilean legal system establishes that the legal existence of each person begins upon birth, that is, upon complete separation from the mother.”
Chile’s new stance at the U.N. rejects the Holy See’s recommendation to “defend and respect the rights of the human person from the moment of conception to natural death.”
According to the documents obtained by La Tercera, Chile will report to the U.N. that “the current policy of the government will include the legalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy” in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. It will also include the drafting of a law on “sexual and reproductive rights involving sexual education and access to sexual and reproductive health services.”
The rejected pro-life document drafted under President Pinera said abortion would “not form part of the sexual and reproductive rights of women” and would not be granted legal recognition. Abortion could not be legal in Chile, the policy stated, because the country’s constitution “protects the life of the unborn.”
New Orleans, La., Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The updated voting guide issued by the U.S. bishops will maintain Church teaching as explained by both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, said leading bishops at a recent gathering.
“Pope Benedict, in his encyclical entitled ‘God Is Love’ showed how the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments leads seamlessly to the service that the Church provides to the poor and the vulnerable and the common good,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore explained.
He added that Pope Francis has also emphasized this in his papacy, and “that perspective might be more amply reflected in any sort of revision that might be done.”
“Pope Francis, with characteristic simplicity, said that all the Church asks is for the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety. And I think that summarizes very nicely what Pope Benedict was also teaching us,” he noted.
Archbishop Lori is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. His comments came in a June 11 press conference at the bishops’ spring general assembly in New Orleans.
The archbishop addressed “Faithful Citizenship,” a teaching document introduced in 2007 to help the faithful form their consciences to vote. The U.S. bishops voted unanimously at their meeting to draft a “limited revision” of the document and a new introductory note.
“Faithful Citizenship” begins by listing acts that are “inherently wrong and evil” and can never be justified by a public official, and then covers prudential matters, explained Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Houston, the vice president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.
“People must use their prudence to vote. But you can help form their consciences in something like ‘Faithful Citizenship’,” he stated.
The drafted update will leave the document “essentially the same,” but will include edits and a cover note to reflect developments in the Church since it was authored, notably Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” and encyclicals by Pope Benedict, he said.
The Church’s response to poverty is “one level” where Pope Francis’ insight and reflections will be important for the edits, Cardinal DiNardo noted, also adding that “you want to take into account Pope Benedict’s ‘Caritas in Veritate,’ which deals with some of the same things about poverty and the economy.”
He also explained that this additional focus on poverty will not replace the issue of abortion, saying, “Our very significant commitment always will be to human personal life. It’s non-negotiable.”
Cardinal DiNardo responded to a question by the Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press about the role of abortion as a central voting issue. Zoll had suggested that Pope Francis wants “less emphasis on sort of hot-button issues and more emphasis on compassion, mercy, and the broader view?”
Pope Francis has stated numerous times that he is a “son of the Church” who agrees with Catholic teaching on moral issues, while also saying that “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
In response, Cardinal DiNardo explained that the two aspects of the faith are not mutually exclusive. Abortion remains a “crucial” issue, like a “pillar” of a house, he said, but “Pope Francis is reminding us is that those pillars of the house also support a house that has to deal all the time with questions of poverty.”
“We’ll want to make sure we speak very insistently about the role of poverty, about the role of the economy and what happens in those issues,” the cardinal stated.
New Orleans, La., Jun 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The call of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis to connect the issues of poverty and the new evangelization has come not a moment too soon, George Mason law professor Helen Alvare told the U.S. bishops June 12.
Speaking at the U.S. bishops’ Spring General Assembly in New Orleans, Alvare presented three themes which the last two Bishops of Rome have proposed in linking service to the poor with the new evangelization.
The first was an “exhortation to integrate our services to the poor with an introduction to the person of Christ,” who “placed himself in circumstances of profound condescension,” in humility, poverty, and in his crucifixion.
Alvare noted that in the mind of Pope Francis, this has to be done through both “style and tone, words and gestures … we need to convey physically as well as verbally, humility, tenderness, and the warmth of the love of Christ.”
She added that as part of this, the Church's organizational structures and procedures should harmonize with the call to poverty and evangelization: “prioritize introducing people to the one who loves them, not the care and feeding of bureaucracy … there should be a simplicity about our endeavors that allows others to see that our wealth is God, and nothing else.”
Alvare's second theme was a great attention to those on the peripheries, saying the poor are “often socially invisible, and may be often outside the organized structures of our own Church.” She went on to note that there are spiritual and moral poverties, as well as material, and that all of these “must provoke the particular offer of Jesus Christ.”
The final theme, she said, is to remember what the poor have to offer: “the possibility of finding joy in life that is not calibrated to possessions or pleasure.”
The law professor then presented possible ways of implementing these themes, including introducing Christ to the poor by name, and sharing Christ and his meaning through “images that can act as a bridge.”
She suggested that “a whole body of literature exists doing this,” noting such works as “Atchison Blue”, “Cloister Walk”, and “Christianity Rediscovered”, which recount the effect that encountering Catholics living out their faith has had on secular persons..
Alvare's third means for enacting the link between poverty and the new evangelization was the example of religious “working and living in ways that provoke conversations” about Christ. She gave the example of Sr. Cristina Scuccia, the Ursuline nun who recently won The Voice Italy, who led her coach J-Az to say that “the light in her eyes makes me especially curious.”
The final means suggested by Alvare was the use of religious symbols such as the crucifix and religious garb; and choices of venue, citing the recent Mass for migrants said on the US-Mexico border, and the importance of the internet and social media.
Concerns Alvare raised around the adoption of these measures included the potential for reluctance, and a lack of trust: “will we run afoul of laws, will we lose government funding … will we be less respected” by charities with which we partner, and organizations involved in accreditation and evaluation?
She also noted concerns including the audience of the Church's charity becoming less involved with organized religion; practical difficulties of material destitution, sacrifice of social status and lack of free time, along with a preoccupation of the state, interest groups, and cultural institutions with “sexual expression divorced from children” as a “necessary condition for health” and well-being.
However, Alvare said, the fact “that the world's wisdom on the imperative of sexual expression is on a collision course with Pope Francis' wisdom on the necessity and content of our charity, provides us the opportunity to transcend the ignoring or misunderstanding of our anthropology.”
She also noted the measures allow the unpredictable, unruly freedom of God's word to be unleashed; the potential for the conversion of those performing works of charity; and she expected that with time it will become evident to legislators the “integrated religious nature of our institutions.”
Following her presentation, she responded to the questions of some of the bishops, noting that it will likely become increasingly difficult to partner with the state in offering charitable services, but saying that in response to this, the Church should lobby legislators and regulators, and demonstrate that such partnerships are for the common good and have grassroots support.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit asked in what ways the bishops themselves are called to convert, or what they are to let go off, according to Alvare's vision, and she responded that foremost is the “power of personal interaction.”
Even though it seems like there is no time to devote to this, she urged its importance and how she has seen that there are “things nobody can substitute for but a priest or a sister.”
“It's very difficult to give time, but I don’t see any solution but personal interaction. The Gospel has to be communicated in a love relationship, and that takes some personal time.”
Bishop James Wall of Gallup, itself a poor, mission diocese, spoke to CNA following Alvare's talk, saying the type of poverty which most struck him during her discussion was moral poverty.
“And in the Scriptures we see that the answer or the solution, the remedy to that; we see that in the woman at the well, as she encounters Jesus Christ, her life is changed – she goes away and becomes a powerful evangelizer. So I would say, as we look at the whole aspect of moral poverty, the remedy or the answer is always Christ.”
Bishop Wall went on to say that he particularly liked Alvare’s discussion “about the language or images to engage our society, and two things came to mind: the renewed interest in C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, through the Chronicles (of Narnia) and through The Lord of the Rings; and the other is, what I would hope would be a renewed interest in Flannery O'Connor and her writings, because in all three of those, they're drawing people in, and inviting them through beauty; beauty and liturgy, which provide for an opportunity to encounter Christ.”