✣ Pope hails ‘wisdom of the poor’ in Nairobi
The Pope denounced the conditions slum-dwellers had to live in during a visit to a Nairobi slum last week, saying that access to safe water was a human right and that everyone should have dignified housing.
Francis insisted on access to a basic sewage system, rubbish collection and electricity as well as schools, hospitals and sports facilities. “To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice,” he said.
What the media are saying
The mainstream media reported the Pope’s visit in a straightforward way but one blogger insisted they were missing the point. Terry Mattingly of GetReligion.org said that key passages of the Pope’s talk had been left out. These passages lay the blame for the injustices of the slum on “new forms of colonialism” and global consumerism. This colonialism, the Pope said, “would make African countries ‘parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel’,” and included pressure to lower the birth rate. Mattingly wrote: “It appears that the larger subject, for Francis, is the struggle of ordinary people in Kenya to strive for dignity in a surrounding culture defined by materialism and commercialism. (I wonder if they have Black Friday in the slums of Kenya. Probably not.)”
What the vaticanisti are saying
John Allen said the visit was the “most revealing” of all the Pope’s trips in his Africa itinerary and urged readers to look more closely at what the Pope had to say. “Francis didn’t go to Kangemi simply to commiserate with Africa’s poor. He went to acknowledge what he called ‘the wisdom found in poor neighbourhoods’.” This wisdom is expressed, the Pope said, in “values such as solidarity, [in] giving one’s life for others”. Allen argued that for Pope Francis poverty was a “source of spiritual and moral truth as compelling as any dogmatic declaration”. He concluded: “If you want to understand Francis’s agenda … you don’t need to Google the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Code of Canon Law. You’d be better off heading to … Kangemi.”
The most overlooked story of the week
✣ Ordinariate gains boost with first bishop
A bishop was appointed for the first time to lead one of the three personal ordinariates set up by Benedict XVI for groups of former Anglicans. The Pope named Mgr Steven Lopes as bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, covering Canada and the US. Other ordinariesare married and cannot become bishops.
Why was it under-reported?
The ordinariate project is Benedict’s creation and therefore largely irrelevant to the Francis narrative that preoccupies media outlets. Nevertheless, the election marks a serious moment. Mgr Lopes, a long-time official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: “I worked closely with Pope Benedict in creating the ordinariates, and I know his vision was of allowing diversity in communion. Pope Francis embraces that model and is pushing it through to its logical conclusion.”
What will happen next?
The ordinariate has its own bishop and its own liturgy and missal and clearly has the support of Francis, too – so everything is set for it to flourish. Mgr Lopes is optimistic: he told John Allen of Cruxnow.com that ordinariates could be created in other parts of the world.
Mgr Lopes said: “I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that 500 years from now, we’ll look at this idea of Benedict and Francis as what began to heal the rift of division in the Church.”
✣ The week ahead
Pope Francis will launch the Year of Mercy on Tuesday. The Church will mark the occasion with the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica. Many dioceses will open their own designated holy doors on this day too. These are not always at cathedrals. In Shrewsbury diocese, for instance, the Holy Door will be opened at St Anthony’s church, Wythenshawe.
Cardinal Peter Turkson will deliver Cafod’s Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture today at St Mary’s church, London. The event will begin at 7pm. Tickets are free but they need to be reserved in advance at eventbrite.co.uk.
Tuesday is also the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In many countries around the world the day is a public holiday. In others – America, the Philippines, Ireland – it is a holy day of obligation. One of the world’s most spectacular celebrations takes place in Cospicua Malta, where two weeks of festivities culminate in a procession on the feast day itself.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.