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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

745: We have this 'opposition' to the pope. It's trying to build walls, going backwards

Day 745: Thursday, March 31, 2022

We have this what they call 'opposition' to the pope.

It's trying to build walls, going backwards

A group of about 70 cardinals, bishops and theologians gathered in Chicago for two days from March 25-26 for conversations focused on how the U.S. Catholic Church can better support the agenda of Pope Francis.

Through a series of keynote presentations and panel discussions centered on tracing the roots of Francis' papacy to the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, invited participants also considered the opposition the pope continues to face from some quarters of the U.S. church, more than nine years after his March 2013 election.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of the attendees, told NCR that part of the purpose of the event was to "understand the spirit of what they call the 'opposition.' "

"We have this what they call 'opposition' to the pope. It's trying to build walls, going backwards — looking to the old liturgy or maybe things before Vatican II," said Rodriguez, who is also the coordinator of the pope's advisory Council of Cardinals.

"Vatican II is unknown by many of the young generation," said the cardinal. "So, it's necessary to come back and to see that all the reforms of Pope Francis are rooted in

Vatican II."

The event, which carried the title "Pope Francis, Vatican II, and the Way Forward," was co-organized by Loyola University Chicago's Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, Boston College's Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, and Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture. Also helping with the organization was NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters.

The conversations were held under the "Chatham House Rule," meaning attendees agreed they could speak afterwards about the contents of the discussions but not reveal who had made any particular comment, with hopes of fostering a more open and forthright atmosphere.

(Theologian Christine Firer Hinze)

Christine Firer Hinze, one of about a dozen theologians attending the event, said she found the conversations between the participating academics and bishops "heartening and hopeful." Pointing to the willingness of the bishops to listen to the theologians' viewpoints, Hinze called the experience an example of "servant leadership."

"It feels more like collaboration," said Hinze, chair of the theology department at Fordham and president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. "It doesn't necessarily change when you go back to your own diocese, everything that's going to happen. But at least it points in a direction."

Beyond Rodriguez, other bishops attending the conference included Cardinals Blase Cupich, Sean O'Malley and Joseph Tobin; and Archbishops Mitchell Rozanski, John Wester, Charles Thompson and Roberto González Nieves. Also present was the Vatican's ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and the undersecretary of the Vatican's office for the Synod of Bishops, Xavière Missionary Sr. Nathalie Becquart.

The three keynote presentations at the conference were given by Villanova theologian Massimo Faggioli, Loyola Chicago theologian M. Therese Lysaught and Peruvian Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, who is president of the Latin American bishops' council, commonly known as CELAM. (Cabrejos was unable to attend, so his talk was read by Archbishop González.)

Among topics brought up in the panel discussions: the impact of moneyed conservative influence in Catholic social movements and media companies; polarization and division among U.S. bishops; the atmosphere of education at American seminaries, and the reluctance of some U.S. dioceses to implement the grassroots consultation process requested by Francis for the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops.

Joshua J. McElwee


Announcement from Steve Lyman:

A letter from the pastor of St. Columba's Church in Inverness:

Dear Beloved Community,

Scientists, climate activists, and concerned citizens the world over are striving to transform our current System's consumption, and waste, in order to effect positive and sustainable change, minimize the impact of a rapidly warming climate, help save countless species. and instill hope for our planetary future.

From individuals to neighborhoods, from local communities to world governments, no one is unessential in our collective efforts to address the greatest existential threat ever to confront our civilization. As we collectively work toward pragmatic solutions, it is incumbent upon communities of faith to collaborate with scientists, activists, and governments in educating, organizing, and motivating members of our society. Yet all of the pragmatism we can muster will fall short if we do not also address the spiritual roots of the climate crisis. Namely, the pervasive sense of 'disconnect' our societies have inculcated within, and around us, Thus, contemplative spiritual communities are essential if we are to understand that climate is not merely a problem to be fixed but a relationship to be reconciled.

A spiritual truth to which our cülture and society have so successfully numbed us is that the contemplative life is not a luxury or a quaint pastime but a matter of grave spiritual, social, and now even planetary urgency. At St. Columba's we draw from the ancient Christian teaching that there are two books of Scripture; The Big Book of Creation and the Little Book of the Bible. Having the same author, every landscape is realized as a page of Holy Writ, a Sacrament of Divine Presence, revealing Christ's incarnation as a passionate love affair between God and all of Creation.

The Council for Ecological' Discipleship (CED) of St. Columba's Episcopal Church in Inverness invites you to join us as •we share our traditions' deep roots in the sacredness of all Creation. Here we connect with others in an intimate spiritual community listening with love and compassion as we together embody a new hope born of healing and ecological restoration.

I extend a warm invitation for each of you to join our growing community as we ruminate together on the documentary "Once You Know." This film offers a unique perspective, at personal and universal, and which re-contextualizes the climate crisis and how we can best meet it— not as something fast approaching, but as an alarming reality that is already here.

For more information and to register go to:

Participants will receive a link to view the film from home at your leisure or with family and friends, anytime between Sam PDT, Friday, April 1, and midnight PDT on April 3rd.

After viewing the documentary, we invite you to take part in a Zoom discussion that I will

facilitate along with members of St. Columba's CED from 4:30 to 6:00pm PDT on Monday April 4th. In exploring our emotions around the film and our responses to its message, we may take yet another personal and collective step toward deeper spiritual awareness of the underlying crisis we face and how spiritual communities might collaborate with others to address the challenges ahead.

Grace and Peace,

Fr. Vincent Pizzuto PhD, Vicar

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