About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • http://stonescryout.org/ Doug Payton

    The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth used the phrase “Soup, Soap, and Salvation” to show in what order that the various needs to be met need to be done in. Someone won’t hear your sermon over the sound of their stomach growling.

    That was the late 19th century. Nothing new about this. But yeah, for the media, it’s some radical departure from…something.

  • Julia B

    I think it’s a great article, but neither the writer or you seem to have ever heard of “Liberation Theology”. That’s huge in Latin America – some the most prominent in that movement are JESUITS. Pope Francis is a JESUIT. However, Francis took a lot of grief over the years for wanting to get the Marxist tendencies out of it. As for doing practical things, I guess you know that Catholics invented hospitals and monasteries took in orphans. These are all the “works” of mercy for which Catholics are often castigated.

    The article does say in a number of places that these slum priests have been doing this for decades. She doesn’t claim it’s new. It’s just that the press is currently besoted with Francis and thinks the slum priests are interesting. [and the LATimes spent a lot of money to send her there for WYD so she had to write some stuff to justify that expense]

    In the early years of Liberation Theology the bishops and archbishops were very much against it – there had been a history of the Latin American heirarchy coming from the aristocratic class and aligning itself with that class and thinking we’ll always have poor people. Those days are mostly over because education is now available to all kinds of people, much like the US, and priests are from all kinds of families now.

    The writer does get a few things wrong. She says the bishops are allowing new priests to do their studies outside of classrooms, or something like that. I’m sure that’s not true. If anything, the academic requirements for priests have risen in Latin America, as they continue to do in other parts of the world. Probably, somebody told her that seminarians are now required to spend some time in the slums on top of their studies. I’m sure that’s more like it.

    Additionally, the author is speaking of converting in a protestant manner. Catholics speak of conversion all the time, but as in turning away from sin and changing the way you live. If the priest is hearing confessions, those folks are already Catholic. It also sounds like many of these slum people grew up in families that didn’t practice any religion. It’s not like they are converting from another religion.

    Bottom line: good story by a writer who doesn’t know the history of Liberation Theology.

  • Ross Harrell

    There does seem to be a predisposition in the story toward the notion that priests are only concerned with ‘converting people’ and that it is novel to act charitably. I assume this is a bias that someone from the secular part of the US might adopt. But that is an assumption.

  • Julia B

    If anybody is still reading this thread. It just so happens that Francis sent a message to the Argentinian Catholics about this very topic the other day: helping the poor. http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2013/08/when-you-meet-needy-your-heart-grows.html

    On the subject of what Americans would call converting people, he specifically says: “We ask only one thing: that you reach out! And that you go and seek out and encounter the most needy! . . . Does this mean going to convince someone to become Catholic? No, no, no! You are just reaching out to meet him, he is your brother! That is enough. You reach out to help them, the rest is done by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.”