As Pope Francis completes his first year of papacy this month, the College Committee on Mission and Identity will host a panel titled “Who are we to judge? Perspectives on Pope Francis,” featuring commentary by Alice Laffey, associate professor of religious studies, Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies, and Rev. Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history. The panel will be held in Rehm Library on March 26 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public.
“Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first Latin American pope, continues to delight and surprise Catholics and many others around the globe. In his first year as bishop of Rome, he has been a needed breath of fresh air, and he has demonstrated through his own actions how authentic Christians live,” says Fr. Worcester. “By questioning whether the pope should or should not judge persons with a homosexual orientation, Francis has helped to redirect the Catholic Church away from negative decrees and judgments, to a more positive and humanity-affirming agenda. And yet Francis does judge the world economic system, as profoundly unjust, and calls for radical changes that will liberate the poor from their suffering. He has made the poor a top priority, as it was for Saint Francis of Assisi, and indeed for Jesus himself.”
“Pope Francis speaks and acts with personal authenticity,” adds Laffey. “His theology is biblical and Ignatian: God deeply loves us and we are invited to love God and God’s people.”
In March of 2013, College president Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., faculty members from varying disciplines, and students all offered perspectives on the historic announcement. Interest among students continue to be lively, says Fr. Worcester. “When I offered my course on ‘The Papacy in the Modern World’ last semester it quickly filled, with other students asking to get in.” Fr. Worcester will offer the course again in the spring 2015 semester.
The campus community has continued to weigh in throughout the first year of his papacy, including a recent story from CNN featuring Michelle Sterk Barrett, director of community based learning, who says that Francis has a unique gift for reaching people on a gut level, using simple language and earthy metaphors.
“He’s the best thing to happen in the Catholic Church in my lifetime” says Sterk Barrett. Read the full article, which ran in more than 30 different media outlets across the country, on CNN.com.
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