Current Affairs

Home/Current Affairs

Pope Francis and the Faith of Non-Christians

UnknownOn Friday, September 25, Pope Francis visited Ground Zero in New York City to pay respect for life and to pray for healing and peace. Many Christians have expressed dismay that the pope did not mention the name of Jesus at this occasion. Some have specifically stated that he actually proved that he was a religious pluralist who does not believe that Jesus Christ is the true Savior of the world. This entire debate is often absent both the context and the content of his actual words and actions. The pope’s entire address can be read here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/september/documents/papa-francesco_20150925_usa-ground-zero.html

Pope Francis said:

I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only

Jimmy Carter: A Full Life

Jimmy-Carter-headshotLike so many I have had a mixture of feelings and responses to President Jimmy Carter over the years. It seems to me that most critics, left and right, have freely attributed to him the label of “poor president” or “political failure.” I wonder what history, long after his death, will actually say. Many thought that Harry Truman was a failure until after his death. Maybe Carter’s legacy will meet a similar fate but I have my doubts. If a president is known for his legislative accomplishments then Carter will always be seen as mediocre at best. Among conservatives he is loathed and even seen as the definition of failure and disappointment. (This was true at least until we elected President Barack Obama, who is now classed as lower than Jimmy Carter ever was by the same critics.)

It is ironic, perhaps, that Jimmy Carter is the only U.S. president I actually met in person. (It was brief and not memorable.) I have been to most of the presidential libraries and museums and read a great

Reading Maya Angelou

IMG_5286I owe a debt of profound gratitude to my friend Vill Harmon (second from left in this photo with my good friends and two ACT3 board members). Vill is the secretary in the office of Ecumenical and Interreligious for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In July (2015) Vill and I shared a conversation about our background, especially in terms of race and the South. Vill is African-American, and a great friend. I have come to cherish her advice and joyful spirit. When Vill encourages me to think about my past, and the present issue of race in America, I try to listen. In July she told me I should read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), written by the famous Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014). (Maya’s first name came from her brother Bailey when she was a child.)

9780812980028Maya Angelou was an author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of

Fr. René Constanza on Christian Unity, Part 2

One of the Most Joyful Weeks in My Remembrance

1024x1024As I sit this evening at my computer I am  amazed. For five days every newscast and commentator has responded the visit of Pope Francis to America with such joy and positive energy. From every perspective, including the most non-religious journalists and broadcasters, people have talked about the pope but in doing so they have talked a great deal about Jesus, the Bible and the joy of the gospel. I have never heard so much public talk about matters of profound truth and faith in my lifetime, except perhaps at the funerals of President Kennedy (1963) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968). We have seen pictures of Pope Francis with prisoners, in a seminary speaking to bishops and students about the two greatest works of a shepherd (prayer and the preaching the gospel), praying at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York with representatives of world religions, speaking before the United Nations, speaking before Congress, meeting with the Speaker of the House, meeting with the President and then this evening leaving our shores after being with

The Third Annual Catholic-Evangelical Conversation

“From September 1st to the 5th, the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein Illinois was the site for the Third Annual Evangelical and Catholic Conversation.  Along with the University, the conversation is sponsored by the Archdiocesan Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and ACT-3, a network of relational partnerships between churches, missions and leaders in missional ecumenism.  Father Thomas A. Baima, Dr. John Armstrong, Dr. Craig Higgins and Pastor Norberto Saracco were the principal organizers.  Participants include Catholics and Evangelicals from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Guatemala, England, South Korea and Argentina.  They discussed Pope Francis’ call for dialogue, fraternity and action which he lays out in Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel) and heard two presentations.  Fr. Thomas Baima delivered the keynote address on the biblical basis for a common understanding of the Church.  Dr. Craig Higgins presented a response. Additionally, Dr. John Armstrong and Pastor Norberto Saracco led the group in discussing experiences of positive relations between Evangelicals and Catholics in their various countries.”

“This project is part of a larger effort called “missional ecumenism.”  This effort operates alongside of the official dialogues

The Church of Pope Francis: The Dialogue I’ve Being Waiting to See and Hear

With all the views of Pope Francis coming from right-left-and in-between I have wanted to see a god dialogue about the man, his view of important issues and his leadership style. Finally, the Jesuit magazine America has given me what I was searching for online. What is remarkable about this program is who is speaking here. The moderator is Nancy Gibbs, managing editor of TIME. Michael Gerson, next to Nancy in the panel, was a policy advisor to President George W. Bush. He is an evangelical non-Catholic. He is also a Wheaton College graduate. (He makes a joke about Wheaton College which is old but still funny). Michael was a TA to one of my favorite theology professors, Dr. Alan Johnson. Then there is the highly regarded progressive Catholic, retired Northwestern University professor and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Dr. Gary Wills. Wills has written some of the most critical contemporary commentary on the Catholic Church of anyone in American academia. At the end of this panel, on your right, is the editor of America, Fr. Matt Malone, SJ. I would describe this group, if

Same-sex relationships and the church

A very helpful interaction of the kind that is called for by people who love deeply and follow Christ. You will find things to disagree with but if you agree with everything why bother to reconfirm you own views? I submit this as a helpful and civil exchange.

Full blog post copied below, if you prefer to embed the whole post:

http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/83744904791/video-youve-never-heard-me-make-this-argument

International Justice Mission

My very good friend Mark Moore (Plano, Texas) just became a regional director for a mission called International Justice Mission. I am really thrilled for him and thus I am very excited to share this incredibly fruitful mission with you, my online friends. Some of you already know about IJM. Others can learn from seeing this wonderful TED Talk by the founder behind this great movement.

Watch Gary’s talk at the IJM website and learn more here.

My Dialogue with Father Robert Barron on Christian Unity

On February 9, 2015, I did a remarkable and engaging dialogue with my friend, Fr. Robert Barron at St. Procopious Abbey in Lisle, IL.  The full video of this event is on our ACT3 website. In spite of posting this a few weeks ago, after some effort to get it finished, I have never included it as a blog post. Now I post it here to secure the interest of more of you who follow me via these blogs and the online ministry of ACT3 Network. Now you can watch this entire evening here or mark it on this site and come back to it later when you have the time. It is one hour and thirty minutes in length so you will need to “kick back” and watch it all. I hope that you will. This is me doing what I believe in with all my heart and soul. Pray for this dialogue to reach hearts and change minds. It has already had an impact in the context in which it took place, back in February.