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Sunday Homily: Pope Francis' New Song -- Seven Things You May Have Missed in 'The Joy of the Gospel'

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  • The pope's appreciation of theologians means that "Evangelii Gaudium" holds promise for women and the campaign for women's ordination -- despite its specific rejection of women priests (104). This is because virtually no theologians or scripture scholars find credible the reasons advanced for restricting ordination to males.   Even the pope's Exhortation suggests the contrary. No sooner does he reject women priests than he falls into the traditional language of "holy mother church" (e.g. 139). The pope writes ". . . the church is a mother, and . . . preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child." Do you detect the dissonance here -- of males alone being allowed to speak as a woman?? Sooner or later that penny will drop. 

  • The pope's promotion of the "sensus fidei" (119) holds similar promise for changes in church teaching on contraception. According to the pope, "God furnishes the totality of the faithful with an instinct of faith -- sensus fidei -- which helps them to discern what is truly of God." For theologians, sensus fidei means that when the bishops, theologians and laity agree on a matter of faith or morals, their agreement represents the work of the Holy Spirit. On the question of contraception, previous popes have cut the laity and theologians out of the equation entirely. In the spirit of Vatican II, the pope's words promise to include them once again. Theologians and laity overwhelmingly agree that church prohibition of artificial contraception needs reversal. 

  • In his Exhortation, the pope shifts away from just war theory to complete pacifism (239). He devotes a whole section to the rejection of war (98-101). Moreover, he identifies inequality as the cause of violence and war. He writes, "Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve . . . weapons and violence rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts" (60). What if the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics took the pope's words to heart?

  • All of this represents the work of the Holy Spirit -- the same Spirit that today's reading from John's gospel describes as descending upon the just-baptized Jesus. John the Baptist describes Jesus as the gentle "Lamb of God." The Spirit is pictured as a dove -- the symbol of peace.

    Like John the Baptist on Jordan's banks, Pope Francis is calling the faithful to "Behold the Lamb of God" imitating Jesus' identification with the poor and his gentle non-violence.

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    Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Recently retired, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 36 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program.Mike blogs (more...)

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    So far, so good as far as this pope's brief reign ... by Mike Rivage-Seul on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 1:00:02 AM
    The link to wikipedia article on 'Liberation theol... by Charles Roll on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 12:21:50 PM
    I agree, Charles. And sorry about the link error o... by Mike Rivage-Seul on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 9:32:53 PM
    BTW: you may have missed this OEN story, about the... by Charles Roll on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 1:16:54 PM
    This one humble man could conceivably turn the wor... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 1:38:05 PM
    Dan, it's just amazing to me how much power the p... by Mike Rivage-Seul on Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 9:26:22 PM
    A I read from your comment," ... This one humble ... by E. T. SIMON on Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 7:56:48 AM
    It appears to be so, though George Little seemed t... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 12:16:31 PM
    I wish he'd give Paul Ryan a personal call, give h... by janet O'Connell on Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 7:28:29 AM