Why Pope Francis’ focus on mission makes Catholics uncomfortable

(CNS photo/Vatican Media)

It is no secret that Pope Francis is getting pushback from certain corners of the church these days. The church in the United States has been infected by the same harshness and polarization that inflame our politics. Our faith is challenged by ongoing polemics between Catholics labeled progressive and conservative. The due reverence afforded the papacy as one of the greatest sources of unity and cohesion for a global church is being undermined by a small but vocal chorus of vigilantes led by a small number of cardinals and bishops.

What is the source of the tensions and conflicts we have in the church today? I believe the reason for the uneasiness is the pope’s emphasis on mission. There is a profound difference between a church that is a nest or a niche, in which one can find peace, tranquility and seeming stability, and a church that sees itself as missionary through and through—always going out, reaching out to the margins, as Pope Francis likes to say. Such a church necessarily does not wait for outsiders to come to it; rather, it seeks them out and goes to them. Such a church is not overly concerned with its identity nor with the past. Rather, such a church lives and breathes a “culture of encounter.”

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In 2012 CARA researchers Mary Gautier, Paul Perl and Stephen Fichter reported that there was a telling difference between how the two types of priest viewed their vocations. The diocesan priests tended to view their calling as a niche, as a position of status, as a function in a well-established organization. The religious order priests tended to view their calling as a mission, as a going out to engage an often incredulous and unfamiliar world with the Gospel message of Jesus. Francis, our first Jesuit pope, embodies this missionary impulse.

The exercise of ministry as mission involves more than maintaining institutions.

Jesus’ missioning of the 72 disciples in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 10:1-12) reminds us in no uncertain terms that the call to ministry inherent in our baptism is most definitely a mission—one that involves reaching out and engaging others. The church is so much more than its brick and mortar, its doctrines and morality, as important as those are. The exercise of ministry as mission involves more than maintaining institutions—no matter how basic they may be, like the parish, Catholic charities or the Jesuit university where I work.

Ministry as mission means ongoing engagement beyond the comfortable associations of our language, culture, social class, age, gender or sexual orientation. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the number 72 stands for all the nations of the earth and recalls the biblical teaching about the universal, all-inclusive scope of God’s love for humanity. It is to that vast, diverse world that Jesus sent his very first followers and to which he still sends them, sends us, today.

As followers of Jesus, our engagement with others as we find them—people of other religions, races, languages—should be shaped by certain attitudes. The first one is dependence on God and not on our human maneuvering. A second is authenticity and honesty, not strategic planning and the careful attention to metrics that is so much in vogue today. To proclaim the Gospel is first and foremost the communication of anexperience of Christ himself—as St. Paul says, “to know only Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). To communicate the Gospel is to offer people the opportunity to experience an event in the form of a personal encounter with the living God. It is not, fundamentally, the imposition of doctrines—no matter how true the rules and no matter how righteous.

The most effective way to open others to an experience of the living God in Jesus is by giving a credible witness of God’s love.

To know Christ is to experience something that happens in one’s heart and total being. The surpassing knowledge of God proposed by St. Paul is a relationship with God, friendship with God in God’s very self. Arguments and persuasion by reasoning alone are not enough. While the methods of effective communication and organizational planning can help out efforts to evangelize, accomplishing the mission of the church or of any other Christian organization has to be the result of God’s grace working in the imaginations, wills and most authentic desires of those doing the outreach and in those to whom the outreach is directed.

The most effective way to open others to an experience of the living God in Jesus is by giving a credible witness of God’s love. Unless the agents themselves—and by this I mean all of the baptized—practice what they preach, walk the walk, the outreach is merely cosmetic and the results will be nonexistent or short lived.

Today’s renewal of the church and of our own faith has to begin with the realization that we need to grow in a life of daily prayer that puts us in contact with the living God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are all called and sent in our own way. This depends on our age, particular calling, profession, socio-economic status and so on—but we are called and sent, nevertheless, like the 72 disciples of Luke’s Gospel.

The renewal of the church envisioned by the Second Vatican Council was exciting but also deeply bothersome to many Catholics who had gotten used to a church that was locked in tradition, self-referential and fixed in its thinking. The renewal of Vatican II’s call for change under Pope Francis’ vigorous leadership proposes something else that is exciting but enormously challenging: to choose to follow Christ of the Gospels always requires courage, a willingness to change and risk-taking. That is why by insisting on the need for this kind of faith-filled grit and modeling it for us, Pope Francis is rattling our cages.

J Cosgrove
6 days 3 hours ago

What's not mentioned is salvation. I thought that was the mission of the Catholic Church.

Maybe, Fr. Deck would like to provide a reason why anyone should be a Catholic. It sounds like he thinks the Church is a do-gooder social organization. But there are many of those.

Lisa M
5 days 21 hours ago

J- Salvation requires we embrace Church teachings, assuming of course, the person has the opportunity to be exposed to them.

Nora Bolcon
2 days 7 hours ago

NO Catholics need to embrace the Gospels to secure salvation.

John Mack
3 days 6 hours ago

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" That, for instance, either means it is good and just to cage the children at the border in cruel coditions, or it is wrong. Jesus is saying make this world a olce that follows my teachings. This world, not the next world.

Nora Bolcon
6 days ago

Fr. Deck,

I cannot agree with you that what is most polarizing our church is the push for mission. This is not what is causing Pope Francis to lose favor with the laity most, at least not in the West.

What is causing polarity in our church is expressed in these kinds casual statements proffered by you and other priests and bishops: "To communicate the Gospel is to offer people the opportunity to experience an event in the form of a personal encounter with the living God. It is not, fundamentally, the imposition of doctrines—no matter how true the rules and no matter how righteous. "

The first part of your quote I agree with and I think many even traditionalists share a desire to be a part of increasing the faith in Christ around the world.

However, this treatment of our doctrines and rules as automatically or fundamentally righteous, despite the fact and truth, that many of them are discriminatory and biased in such a way as to be fully and literally anti-gospel teaching is what is polarizing.

A church ordered by its hierarchy to oppress all of its women and keep them from same treatment, same recognition of same sacredness by not offering them same sacraments, and by same voice being denied them from no voting rights at Synods to no women being made cardinals with a right to vote on the basic ideas of our church and vote for its next pontif is not acting according to righteousness. Instead, these doctrine offer a living example on how people can live against the Gospel of Christ and its main dictates of treating one's neighbor as one's self and as an act of love for God and neighbor.

We are polarized because of the few unrighteous and untrue and anti-gospel based doctrines that we continue to enforce despite the extreme injustice they represent and the extreme pain they cause those who are directly victimized by their continuous support from our priests, bishops and popes.

There is no authentic peace without authentic justice for all, and there can be no authentic unity without authentic peace. We must face our hatred of women and the sins we have done on account of that hatred, and cease treating the demand for same dignity and same treatment for women as a fad in our church that the pope hopes will disappear if he demonizes the word feminist often enough.

The sin of misogyny is with us until we cast it out of us completely and ordain women the same as men. Do this and many of the other issues will disappear automatically. For example, once women are ordained there is no sin in ordaining married people but to ordain married men only or first causes gender segregation and a worsening of the oppression of women and a worsening of our sinfulness. Another example, is most church's with mixed gender leadership have no vocation crisis and fewer pedophilia scandals, unlike churches that are run by patriarchy, whether Catholic or Baptist, etc. Another example is most churches that have mixed gender leadership are not against birth control so they don't have their young leaving them at the rate we do and they can make greater strides and more constructive ones helping women and children come out of poverty in poor nation by helping them control their birth rates so they can work and get educated. This also helps with the overpopulation problems and the climate crisis which has been most singularly sourced from overpopulation, on a global scale. Since poverty leads to wars and terrorism over lack of resources, women making the big decisions on whether to help many poor nation's women, who wanted birth control, 50-60 years ago, could have made a huge difference and led us to a very different reality than what we are experiencing now.

This is why many feel polarized Father - we are tired of leadership blaming others outside of church with the problems of the world/church instead of blaming the not courageous enough liberal leadership and completely clericalize conservative leadership inside the church.

But again Father, how many times do I have to type the same more or less comment for you to actually bother to think and meditate on what we are answering to your comments. We are exhausted trying to reach any of you or trying to get any of you to risk anything that you have to stand up against evil and support your sister's equal right to demand equal treatment and same ordination as you.

Joe S.
5 days 20 hours ago

Nora,

There are certain utterances of bishops and ever the pope that we as faithful Catholics are free to disagree with and to do so publicly. However, there are also magisterial statements made by the church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we as faithful Catholics must strive to accept, and, if we cannot accept them then to pray to God for the grace of faith. I am concerned because two of the things you are railing against—the impossibility of women’s ordination and the evil of artificial birth control—belong to the latter category. For the sake of your salvation, humble yourself to the wisdom of God and His Church or cease to acknowledge the Catholic Church as the one true church founded by Christ because it is opinions like yours that are causing the divide in Christ’s Church.

Lisa M
5 days 14 hours ago

Joe- I read from your post that dissent is okay if we consider ourselves faithful Catholics. It doesn't work that way. You are either on board or you are not, but to call out someone who disagrees with Church teachings, yet you yourself, at least imply you do the same is strange to me. It would appear humility is required at your end as well. Moral teachings are not the only teachings we as Catholics are required to follow. That means "we as faithful Catholics must strive to accept" include the Church teachings that I suspect you wholeheartedly disagree with (death penalty, helping our migrant neighbours, the environment, all of pope Francis' encyclicals, etc) If I'm wrong I apologize, but usually those who refer to themselves as 'faithful Catholics' are anti Francis critics who are doing the same thing they accuse others of doing, dissenting from Church teachings.

Joe S.
3 days 23 hours ago

Sorry Lisa, I didn’t mean to imply that dissent was okay at all. What I was saying is that there could be certain church teachings that are difficult for a person to accept. This is different than dissent if that person accepts that the Church is wiser in the matter and attempts to conform his or her mind to the mind of the Church. That is the type of situation I was referring to, a situation of humility and deference to the wisdom of the Catholic Church.

Your unfounded and stereotypical assumption that I would disagree with the moral issues that you listed is inappropriate and uncharitable, and I accept your apology. I do have a passion for those issues as well as doctrinal issues because they are both part of the beauty of the Catholic Church.

Lisa M
3 days 7 hours ago

Joe- You really called me out, and I must say you are right. My apologies. I did assume that you were coming from a particular persuasion of thought as I understood you to imply you were in disagreement with Pope Francis, like so many outspoken critics today. So few Catholics appear to embrace it all, as far as the Church being wiser, and our need to be humble in our search for understanding. Seems I need to take a lesson in this as well. My apologies again, and thanks for the insight.

Joe S.
3 days 23 hours ago

Sorry Lisa, I didn’t mean to imply that dissent was okay at all. What I was saying is that there could be certain church teachings that are difficult for a person to accept. This is different than dissent if that person accepts that the Church is wiser in the matter and attempts to conform his or her mind to the mind of the Church. That is the type of situation I was referring to, a situation of humility and deference to the wisdom of the Catholic Church.

Your unfounded and stereotypical assumption that I would disagree with the moral issues that you listed is inappropriate and uncharitable, and I accept your apology. I do have a passion for those issues as well as doctrinal issues because they are both part of the beauty of the Catholic Church.

Nora Bolcon
2 days 7 hours ago

Joe,

We are free to disagree with any and all doctrines that suggest or demand we treat others differently than we wish to be treated or lesser sacred or with lesser human dignity and respect as a group. This means we cannot follow rules which demand we discriminate based on a person's gender, race, or ethnicity. To support such rules of hatred and oppression is pure sin according to the Gospels. We can't be anti-gospel and Christian no matter how Catholic we may be, and we are not saved due to our Catholicism except when our Catholicism brings us to follow the Gospels of Christ.

The below is long but it points out how the Holy Spirit has clearly spoken in the Gospels and how they don't agree with our bishops who are upholding a flawed and harmful doctrine against women based on nothing more than pure sexism - not infallible dogma.

To answer your ridiculous statement that it is impossible for women to be priests - I will let the Gospels which gives us actual statements from the Holy Spirit (which supposedly all Popes and all Catholics believe to be dogma and infallible) through Angels like Gabriel and Jesus Christ Himself as to what the Holy Spirit actually believes is impossible. Also every person who sinned in the past, religious leader or not, has made laws, if they are in power, to justify their racism, sexism, ethnic hatred, and then says, so see it is impossible for us to change this because it is the law. The bias against women's ordination has no foundation in scripture and is not an infallible dogma so it can be changed as other doctrines and traditions in our church have been changed throughout our Church history because they were wrong or harmful. To not dissent against sexism or racism or any other form of hatred which Christ abhors is sin and a possible cause for one to possibly lose one's eternal life, if they refuse to repent of it before they pass. This is true for both laity and popes. Again that information is actually in the Gospels unlike this law against women's same ordination.

Matthew 3:8-10 Produce fruit worthy of repentance and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.…

So there is truly NOTHING God cannot do thru Christ for those who believe. If God can make children out of rocks (and He can) then God can quite easily overcome a law with no basis in scripture in order to have women justly ordained priests in the Roman Catholic Church like their brothers.

Matt 7:1-12 So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! In EVERYTHING, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.

See Jesus states IN EVERYTHING - NO EXCEPTIONS, AND NO ONE IS EXCLUDED FROM SAME TREATMENT BY CHRIST WHEN HE INSTRUCTS HIS 12 APOSTLES AND THE DISCIPLES. THIS WOULD INCLUDES SAME ORDINATION ALTHOUGH NO ONE WAS ORDAINED BY CHRIST A PRIEST AND THIS WORD DOES NOT EXIST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
There were presbyters who did the works of priests and the Apostles were the first of these along with many original disciples but there were male and female presbyters and no one was ordained a presbyter.

Luke 1:36-37 Look, even Elizabeth your relative has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is in her sixth month. For NOTHING will be IMPOSSIBLE with God.”

Matt 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but WITH GOD ALL THINGS are Possible."

Jeremiah 32:17 "Oh, Lord GOD! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!

Maybe you and your traditionalists friends need to realize it is your faith and understanding that are weak. God called me and many other women in our church to ordained priesthood. I fight for justice and same ordination for women and men, according to His Will, as He has shown it to me, and I pray constantly until this change comes to pass for the sake of the Church and the world around it.

We need to stop pretending that equality must be given slowly to women in our church. It doesn't. Pope Francis has full authority as the high priest of our church to ordain women to priesthood and ordain them as bishops equal to their male counterparts literally today. There is no bishop higher than the pope to invalidate the pope's ordinations of women and there is nothing in scripture or especially the gospels to lead any pope to believe that Christ did not want same exact leadership opportunities - both sacramental and otherwise, be equally offered to both sexes from the start of the Church and ongoing.

In fact, the gospels condemn any person or leader from treating any one person differently than they wish to be treated themselves which equates to condemning treating any person or group of people differently from each other. There are no exceptions for leaders, bishops or women inherent in this command of Christ's. Bishops have not been given the authority to break this command from Christ in regards to their treatment of women called to ordained priesthood - they must treat them the exact same way they wished to be treated by the Bishop who ordained them priests, or they sin. Our ordination bias is sin and it demeans us and all women while we uphold it.

This means that the truth is the Pope has no right or authority to keep women from all same sacraments as men which is the exact opposite of what the hierarchy claims. This is why Pope Francis refuses to dialogue on the topic. He knows there is nothing but misogyny standing in the way of this change and that has always been the case.

If you follow the magisterium's laws, laws made by men, over what the Gospels have clearly told you is what the Holy Spirit has instructed then you, and those who made the laws that are anti-gospel, will be held culpable for all damage done by those Laws by God. No one has the authority to overrule the clear commands of Christ in the Gospels and everyone who values Catholicism as a Christian Religion should dissent against any such rules of hatred.

Luke 8:21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” Jesus is referring to his teachings and scripture not the Roman Catholic Magisterium. Where The Magisterium's teachings contradict Christ in any way, it is not Christ who is wrong but the magisterium that has erred, and It's teachings, not Christ's, must change.

Matt 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Matt 7:24-25 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.…

As for your statements about birth control. Birth control has existed from even before Christ's time and he never said anything against it. Also, I think if God was the one hung up on women having as many children as possible then he would not have waited to open Sarah's womb until she was 90 and then only give her Isaac as a child. Also Noah lived 500 years before he had any children with his wife. There is zero indication in the bible that the request "Be fertile and multiply." was a demand from God to all men and women to have as many kids as humanly possible.

Also, in poorer nations, like India women often die by the time their youngest reaches 18 years old because the women have no rights to refuse their husbands and are often pregnant constantly which is physically unhealthy and often causes very early death for women. This is not God's will - it is man's will.

Birth Control is a medicine that helps women control a part of nature in a positive way so they can have children when they are healthiest and best able to afford them, just as antibiotics are a medicine that helps people to kill natural infections that left alone would kill them.

Jerome Heavey
1 day 20 hours ago

Dear Nora,
We might also quote Saint Paul: there is neither slave nor free, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither woman nor man. (Drop the mike.) I always found amusing Pope John Paul II's rationale that women could not be ordained priests because they lacked that "natural resemblance to Jesus". Surely the Pope did not mean that Jesus was blond haired, blue-eyed and Polish. Indeed, none of the Apostles were Polish, or Italian. They were all Jews from Galilee, (refer back to the words of Saint Paul). So, the "natural resemblance" is not a matter of nationality, or culture, or previous religion, or language, but only a matter of the organs of sex, for which an ordained priest has no use anyway, according to Church rules. I say Church rules, not Church doctrine. As far as I know the Papacy has never taken the bold step of declaring as infallible a statement forbidding ordination of women anymore than it has taken the bold step of declaring as infallible its position on artificial birth control. A few years back a priest wrote that, when the Church finally changes its teaching on birth control, the announcement will begin with the words, "As the Church has always taught..." Similar words might begin the announcement of the ordination of women. Perhaps a statement such as, "Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary transformed human flesh and blood into the Divine Savior..."

Jerome Heavey
2 days 1 hour ago

Dear Joe S,
Pope John XXIII established a Papal Commission on Birth Control. By the time the Commission completed its study the saintly Pope was dead, and its recommendation went to his successor Pope Paul VI. The Commission recommended that the Church accept artificial birth control as morally licit. That was the majority report of the Commission, composed of theologians and scientists, some ordained, some lay. The minority report recommended continuation of the ban on artificial birth control because any change might bring the teaching authority of the Church into question. Pope Paul VI was swayed by the argument of authority. Pope John Paul II famously taught that every sexual act must be open to the transmission of life. I am unable to reconcile this statement with the Church's approval of Natural Family Planning, which we taught in our parish's Marriage Preparation course, or with the Church's willingness to confer the Sacrament of Matrimony on a couple who are past child bearing age. One time I asked a Monsignor this question, “How can abortion and artificial birth control be equally worthy of moral condemnation, when one act involves the killing of a human being and the other does not?” The Monsignor was silent. Pope John Paul II's statement calls to mind Aristotle, who reasoned that semen was a purified form of blood containing a homunculus, a small human person to be "planted" in the mother's womb. I do not try to convince you; I only hope to explain why I find the Church's official teaching on birth control to be ill-informed and inconsistent.

Lisa M
1 day 22 hours ago

Jerome- Very interesting argument, very. The thing is, while I agree that some aspects of Church teachings can be difficult to understand or reconcile, why do you leave it there? If you believe that the pope cannot error when teaching faith and morals, would it not be logical that you, or I or whoever is struggling with something just hasn't understood it all yet? That's how I see these difficult topics. One thing for certain, even if you have concluded that artificial birth control is a necessary part of life, we cannot ignore some of the disadvantages, and the problems that have come from it's availability. Particularly for our youth.

Jerome Heavey
19 hours 7 min ago

Dear Lisa,
Papal infallibility is an interesting concept. Pope Pius IX managed the First Vatican Council well enough to get a majority vote to approve "Pastor Aeternus", the doctrinal constitution on papal infallibility. There were 1,050 bishops and others eligible to attend the First Vatican Council. When the vote came on Pastor Aeternus there were 435 votes recorded, 433 of whom voted in favor. Many others stayed away, apparently unwilling to vote for it, but not wanting to be present. So, it did not have majority support of the eligible voters. Since that time there has been only once instance of a pope issuing an ex cathedra decree meeting the conditions spelled out in Pastor Aeternus. That occurred in 1950, when Pope Pius XII decreed that the Assumption of Mary was a doctrine of the Church. No pope has claimed to speak infallibly on the questions of artificial birth control and ordination of women. Cardinal Ratzinger described some of Pope John Paul II's statements as "irrevocable teachings", but that doesn't meet the standard of Pastor Aeternus. The bans on artificial birth control and ordination of women are not doctrines of the Church. A Catholic who argues in favor of ordination of women and in favor of artificial birth control is not arguing against Church doctrines. Pope John Paul II forbade discussion of ordination of women. Do we ascribe infallibility to his prohibition? It often happens that human beings attempt to stop discussion of their position on a matter because they are aware that discussion would expose the weakness of their position. I have written this comment in response to your statement, "If you believe that the pope cannot err when teaching faith and morals, would it not be logical that you, or I or whoever is struggling with something just hasn't understood it all yet?" That is one possibility. On the question of birth control I think the opinion of the majority of theologians on the Papal Commission on Birth Control was that Pope Paul VI didn't understand it all.

J. Calpezzo
6 days ago

Those uncomfortable with the Pontiff are the modern day Pharisees, only less educated. They want their religious views to validate their narrow, bigoted political views. The real heretics are the Burke's and others who despite having the Red Hat, cannot quite figure out the words "whatever you do to the least of mine, you do to me."

Judith Jordan
6 days ago

J. Calpezzo
You expressed my views. I have long viewed the right wing as wanting to hammer and frame their religions to fit their politics. A perfect example of this is many of the evangelical groups supporting Trump. They have Trump, but they have lost their validity to lecture others about morality. They have become a pathetic joke.

Michael Bindner
5 days 23 hours ago

Technically, to be a Pharisee is to believe in the resurrection rather than being a Sadducee. The virtue of Jesus was that he called out the hypocrisy of his own sect.

Christopher Lochner
5 days 23 hours ago

Except the "least of mine" does not include victims of abuse by priests, the poor in war torn countries, the poor in stable countries, those with personal dilemmas which are not hot button issues, woman who are not well connected, etc. This is the modernized version of the parable of the Good Samaritan except the person on the ground has to be vetted before any concern is exhibited. We have amazing levels of hypocrisy here. And, oh yes, those who disagree with Francis are disparaged but.... this is OK when you are so self righteous.

Hugo Rainer
5 days 14 hours ago

Sir! Thank you for your clear words. I totally agree.

Mary Fox
3 days 2 hours ago

Excellent article and spot on response, J. Calpezzo. Amen!

Michael Bindner
6 days ago

The key part of the 72's mission was to take nothing with them for the journey, nut instead to rely entirely on God and others for everything, including snacks.

The rich man cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is not because being rich is unjust (although it sometimes is), but that it comes through self-reliance. Self-reliance is the sin of every age. It was the case in 30 A.D (which is misstated - the reign began when Christ called out as the suffering servant on the cross) as it is today. Francis reminds us of that rejection of self-reliance. It is why many hate him as they hated Jesus.

Rejecting self-reliance includes the realization that we need God, that he has no need of our avoiding sin or our worship. He wants us to depend on him as children and the poor depend on others. Lucifer thought that his worship could save humanity, not God suffering in lowly human form. God needed neither, we do. Worship, salvation and finding God with the poor is for us. It is where He truly is and we don't want to be there.

John Mack
3 days 4 hours ago

You're misreading the culture of the commission to the 72. For one thing, the strong culture of hospitality in the Near east. For another the fact taht there were jewish communities almost everywhere, and the 72 would be welcome among some of the synagogue members. Their adminition to take nothing would have taken into account the realtive ease they would have in finding lodgings.

Christopher Lochner
5 days 23 hours ago

It is interesting as to how in this opinion piece I find the complete opposite of my own experiences. (And the conceit of the author as to disparage parish priests is appalling. Goodness, are you this disconnected in your own world of pseudo superiority?) The diocesan priests are attempting to really "walk" with the people. Their living quarters are not luxurious and many parishes are either in rundown city or remote rural locations. Their Brotherhood is also dispersed on a wide geographical basis as to one priest per parish. But, on the other hand, the ordered priests live together in luxury though not of an individual nature so they might claim poverty and with great fanfare. If one lives in but does not own a palace, one will still sleep in a palace every night. Ordered priests tend to be very well educated which leads to a misguided belief in their own level of superior intelligence on ALL issues which results in astounding levels of arrogance. Their "mission" is not to the people but to causes especially if the cause results in personal glory. It is rarely about Christ except as in use to claim moral authority. We all know of a humble and loving parish priest. Can anyone say the same of an ordered priest? (The author was painting with a very broad brush and so I do likewise.)
And as for this "mission", I present a quotation from the LMU "Fund" page: "U.S. News & World Report uses the alumni participation rate {donations}as the ONLY indicator of alumni satisfaction when it publishes its annual ranking of colleges and universities. As our ranking increases, the value of an LMU degree increases as well." Thus, it is not about the mission but of the creation of even more wealth. to gain wealth. (Walking with the poor, yup, of course!) The mission exists in very public talks and as show but rarely in reality. Please stop. Just refer to your educational facility as a not-for-profit business with a great deal of money in reserve, a very rich non-profit, if you will.
So you see the "mission' is irrelevant except as to how it becomes a fund raising sales pitch. It certainly is not that I agree or disagree with the munitia of church politics but my opposition is to the insincerity of these Christ based statements. It's about church power, church money, and social engineering. If Jesus Christ is present then this is quite the coincidence. And preaching the Gospel becomes much more of a realistic "never let Christ get in the way of your personal advancement" theology known as the prosperity gospel. To sum it up, this is not a true faith nor of a rattling of the cage but is an adherence to the self-referential (self-reverential??) and fixed in its own thinking version of current leadership as opposed to past leadership. And so we have the concept of past leadership as bad but current leadership is good (and so very, very good ) and Christ will be invoked to keep the faithful in line with the current political viewpoint of leadership. Salvation becomes a superstitious afterthought. This is really most blasphemous but who am I to judge?
And, again, this article comes from the representative of a school with an endowment of $400+ million. Sir, I believe you speak with forked tongue!

Eric Haiduk
3 days 19 hours ago

Thank you Mr. Lochner

Caroline Daniel
2 days 13 hours ago

Bravo Mr Christopher Lochner!

David Clare
5 days 22 hours ago

Let face it the "closed minded" Catholics (I hesitate to use any political term) mostly object to the call for "social justice" for minorities, immigrants, women and the LGBT community in other words the "others of society". Ironically many of these peoples' ancestors would have also been consider a just off the boat "other" several generations ago by the then establish elite. But now that they have made it and have a certain statue in society, mostly defined by money, property and education, and want to "out" the "others" to Make America Great Again. You can substitute the third word to get the heart their real desire. Of course they ignore or even deny what Jesus says in the Gospels about reaching out to the poor, sick and displaced. To the closed minded Catholics, "it not their problem".

Judith Jordan
5 days 22 hours ago

David Clare--
I agree with your statement. The issues are very frustrating.

Lisa M
5 days 21 hours ago

David- I agree with you but, many of those who are embracing Pope Francis' call are themselves rejecting other aspects of Church teaching. I think the whole point about Pope Francis is the two together, moral and social teachings combined are what defines Catholicism and the will of Christ. Until we embrace both, we will continue to miss the message.

Michael Bindner
5 days 21 hours ago

I would actually like to hear Father's experience on his missionary journey, when the Order put him on a bus with no resources and the instruction to find their way home.

Scott Burdette
5 days 18 hours ago

'He who heareth you, heareth me.' Pope Francis is 'the Other Christ.' Vatican II was supposed to eliminate superstition, but was twisted by the Bishop's into progressiveness against St. Paul VI.

Scott Burdette
5 days 18 hours ago

Edit - Double post.

Hugo Rainer
5 days 14 hours ago

This pope is the gift of the holy Spirit to Catholics

Hugo Rainer
5 days 14 hours ago

This pope is the gift of the holy Spirit to Catholics

John Linton
5 days 7 hours ago

I just hope the Catholic Church survives Francis.

Not much a believer myself anymore, but it's obvious his constant shooting from the hip has gone way beyond pastoral to throwing the Magisterium into disarray.

While I personally detest the concept of Hell, with 1 billion faithful looking for some spiritual stability, I find it an odd time for Francis to be toying with core dogmas of the Church for centuries. People don't join and maintain membership in the Catholic Church just so Francis can preach liberation theology all the time...

He's way too political, and it's always just "one way" political. He's got a huge blind spot to a certain stripe of sexual abuser (we all know what orientation he a priori forgives), and his disquisitions on the environment, capitalism, and immigration have become insufferable.

This is an example of someone not very literate in matters outside the Church who has promulgated his own pet theories of reality under the auspices of the chair of St. Peter.

Francis makes Nietzsche's "God is dead" more obvious to many.

Every day, Pope Benedict grows in my estimation as at least someone who understood the global culture war before us.

Francis is a bit like having Deepak Chopra as pope.

Caroline Daniel
2 days 13 hours ago

i totally agree

Jennifer Martin
5 days 7 hours ago

"The renewal of Vatican II’s call for change under Pope Francis’ vigorous leadership proposes something else that is exciting but enormously challenging: to choose to follow Christ of the Gospels always requires courage, a willingness to change and risk-taking." I agree with Fr. Deck in regards to his synopsis....but....this challenge that he speaks of are a pair of challenges, one for the laity and one for the hierarchy. Yes, through our baptism we are "all" called, laity and religious alike (for all were laity before personal calling), to grow in awareness of our authentic selves and the "call" we have been given by the Spirit to be the hands and feet of Christ at this point in time in our world. I think most get excited to connect with their fullness in spirit to Spirit relationship. Then, the church as institution, instead of being filled with wonder as to how the Spirit is moving within Her, creates boxes in which all are supposed to fit. I do not fit in the box and I have met others who are suffering within the church who do not fit in the box. This is the Church's sin. The church needs the courage to open itself up to the actual, real movement of the Spirit within the spirit of every baptized Catholic; to care how the Spirit is calling instead of telling how the Spirit will call. The Church needs to take risks; to move outside the comfort zone of what the parish and programs have become and re-engage with its own people. This conversation is not about women's ordination or any other divisive disagreements with the teachings of the Church. This conversation is about our callings, our spiritual gifts and holy graces, and about being lifted up and affirmed in following Christ utilizing all that we are. I, personally, have had several mystical experiences in my life. They have affected me and affected my awareness of always being drawn towards "mercy laden" works. I have come to know that I carry with me special graces from the Holy Spirit. I have two Masters Degrees in theology and am a mother, wife, grandmother, daughter, aunt. I do not know if the Holy Spirit is calling women to be ordained priests for He is not calling me...BUT...I do know what He is calling me for and my marriage is not my calling, it is my blessing for following my calling. The Church has got it wrong for me because it does not hear me, it tells me. It is my relationship with the Holy Spirit that has helped to clarify my life for me, not the workings of my parish or the greater Church. I asked my parish priest one day "How do I get my charisms justified through the church?" I know that Church teaching is that it is supposed to be part of the ordained charism to do this. His response to me was "Jennifer, do you really think we get taught this stuff at seminary?" Yes, I think I did since it is embedded within papal writings. I can forgive that if I wasn't left just hanging there as if my charism wasn't as important as his own. So, I think Fr. Deck has it correct, this is about mission but it is about the Church getting in the way of who is being called and to what. That is how all these contradictions come into play. They do not fit in with real life experience and because there is no place to be assisted into moving into authenticity the laity rage against the unreasonable expectations. I was asked once "Do you know who called you?" "Yes" I answered. "The Holy Spirit". I am trying very hard to do what I was called to do. God will know who has stood in my way.

Andy Holland
5 days 6 hours ago

Dear Father, Father Bless. There were many beautiful and true things in your article, especially the desire for people to encounter Jesus Christ, and to pray to enrich that encounter while dialoguing with those without. Yet you are blind dear Father to traditional tears - those tears of mourning are for our sins, which are so grievous our poverty of Spirit is lacking. And so too, our sobs for others are drowned by sins that cry to heaven for vengeance - oppression of the poor, racism, sodomy and murder - especially in the womb. And finally the traditional liturgy, always licit but treated as illegitimate, was hidden from those whose prodigal mission to encounter the world shut their eyes, ears and spiritual sense to those within the Church. Traditional Catholics are not listened to, they are poor and marginalized. And in a world where WWIII in the womb, 1.5 Billion dead and as many wounded, the Sun is darkened, the Church moon no longer gives off her light, for the powers of heaven are shaken (discontinuity hermuenetic) - cocaine fueled gay orgies in the Vatican, mass apostasy, gay "pride" masses rather than calls to genuine Repentance with a genuine encounter with Christ, honoring abortionists and turning a blind eye to perverse priests while excommunicating good ones.... I am sorry father, but the premise of your article that traditional Catholics have a problem with the current Papacy because of mission is backwards - the lack of mission to save souls, to call to Repentance, to go against the world, flesh and devil is the issue. Are you about any easy mission, or the mission of the cross? The uncomfortable message includes, "go and sin no more."

Peter Queenan
3 days 7 hours ago

Yes!
Coming from a ‘third world’ country where Vatican II thrived, it is very apparent that a lack of the sense of mission helped cause the Catholic Church to fail here in North America. Certainly one of the major causes. Please God we are getting back on track.

Lisa M
3 days 4 hours ago

Interesting perspective Peter. Is is definitely true we have not experienced the sense of mission in North America. I welcome it with open arms.

Peter Queenan
3 days 3 hours ago

Thank you for you reply Lisa.
One of the goals of Vatican II was to reintroduce balance. We had an over emphasis on worship, and a lack of mission. So the approach was to clean up worship (simplify it and refocus it on the historic essentials) and to add emphasis on mission. Unfortunately in the West the mission emphasis was ignored and even at times suppressed (as Communist!). The result was a ‘watered down’ church (an often made complaint by people like Bishop Baron) because the worship aspect no longer has all the extra trimmings. But that was the consequence of missing half the intent and message of Vatican II - mission (the heart of the Gospel).

John Mack
3 days 6 hours ago

Big impediement to mission: Embarrassment. Many Catholics, while still believing, are embarrassed by their church and its bishops. At least in the USA.

Randal Agostini
3 days 2 hours ago

The Title is correct, life is a journey and in Catholicism a journey in faith. Though not missing, but not emphasized is that Christ asks us to have a relationship with himself, or to put it into the words of Catherine of Sienna - to fall in love with Jesus. This is the model that Jesus wants to create in all of us and this inevitably leads to a major problem in our faith - lack of Community. Humans connect best when we are working together for a common goal. Instead we are too focused on becoming religious prima donnas. Salvation is indeed our goal, but the pathway to that goal follow the commandments of Jesus - to Love God and to Love our Neighbor. These are physical acts which require contact with God and our neighbor.

Kevin Murphy
1 day 15 hours ago

This is my favourite part: "The due reverence afforded the papacy as one of the greatest sources of unity and cohesion for a global church is being undermined by a small but vocal chorus of vigilantes led by a small number of cardinals and bishops.". Where was this "due reverence" during the Papacies of JP2 and Benedict? Progressives did everything they could to fight their teachings. Also, John Paul's whole Papacy was one of encountering people throughout the world.

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