Pope Francis’ Challenge

Pertinent to “‘Ecumenism of Hate’: EWTN and the Register” (Vatican, Aug. 20):

Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro has a point. 

His essay in La Civiltà Cattolica has generated many responses in the August-October issues of the Register that only highlight the concerns he is raising about the alliance between Catholics and the political right. 

For example, Mr. Simons’ letter in the Oct. 15 issue said that most “orthodox” Catholics are politically conservative and that “Pope Francis and his friends have repeatedly sent the message that they favor left-wing views, and that is a great squandering of their responsibility.”

Pope Francis’ pontificate has indeed been a challenge to many conservative Catholics, including me. 

When I examined my own views, I realized that in the past I tended to echo the default conservative talking points, even when the bishops and Holy Father were offering another perspective. 

In Scripture and Catholic social teaching, we are taught to show special concern for the poor, the refugee and our Earth. We are not individuals that pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, but a community of persons who are our brothers’ keepers, in which government has legitimate responsibility to improve the common good. 

We are taught that now “there is neither Jew nor Greek”; that is, we should be leery of hypernationalism and demonization of the “other.”

 We are taught that “the love of money is the root of all evils.”

It goes without saying that these themes are not currently emphasized in conservative circles in which the religious right finds its home. Rather, rugged individualism, a libertarian belief in the free market and the scapegoating of refugees and Muslims now rule the day. 

Father Spadaro, in spite of some flaws in his tone and examples, sounded the alarm to American Catholics to be critical of these messages coming out of the hard right and elsewhere that are out of step with the Gospel.

They threaten to distort our faith and risk our credibility with other people of goodwill. They should not be casually dismissed as “prudential judgments.”

I thank God for Pope Francis, who challenged me to re-examine my views in light of the Gospel. I thank God for Pope Francis, who is challenging the Church in America to take seriously the riches of Catholic social teaching in their entirety.

         Greg Youell

         Omaha, Nebraska

 

Our Anthem, Our Prayer

Can anyone think of any larger and more frequent gatherings of citizens of the United States than when our nation attends all our sporting events in local gymnasiums and large stadiums to hear the singing of our national anthem?

Our anthem is our nation’s devotion to who we are as Americans and our sacred respect for all those who gave their lives on our battlefields, for our flag, for our veterans and for the great privilege we all have in living under a democratic society.

The anthem can never be used as a forum for protest for any perceived injustices. It is a time that we as citizens come together — united — standing by our Pledge of Allegiance that proudly states: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I believe we all can justifiably find fault with the way many things are handled in our country, and it is incumbent on us as citizens of our democracy to address these injustices if they truly exist by subjecting them to our laws, our courts and the principles of justice available to all of us.

This is what we all seek, and it is obtainable — not through protest, but through petition … prayer petition.

I don’t believe there is anyone who has a belief in God who would deny that prayer is desperately needed by our nation.

Abraham Lincoln once spoke sternly on our nation’s need for prayer. “We have forgotten God: We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God, who made us.”

We all come together so often and in such great numbers for our sporting events that the opportunity for united prayer for all of the injustices in our country that need healing and solutions could be achieved.

Prayer is needed for an end to bigotry, hate, violence and all forms of racism.

We need prayer for our government to work together in bipartisan solutions for our nation’s needs.

We need a fair and affordable health care plan, more and better-paying jobs for all our citizens, and laws that protect all our people equally and for the respect for life in all its stages.

I believe all of our goals for America can be realized if we as a nation become united in our prayers — and all our flaws and injustices can be healed.

Our First Amendment gives us the right to disrespectfully sit down during our national anthem.

Would the same right be given to anyone who wanted, with the utmost respect, to pray for our nation during the national anthem?

What would be paramount here is that, of true respect, our stance at the anthem would be to look straightforward with our right hands over our hearts; and as the anthem is sung, we maintain this stance.

Just think of the number of sporting events that are held throughout the United States and then, if our imaginations could carry us, what if, when we opened our eyes, half the stadium had joined us in prayer?

When I recall our patriotic song America the Beautiful, the lyrics say it all for the intent of our prayers.

“America, America, God shed his grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea,” and “God mend thine every flaw.

“... May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.”

         Peter Pinette

         Woodland, Maine