White Smoke!, Women & the Church, Shoe Leather Evangelization, and Pope Francis’ Pontificate

White Smoke!, Women & the Church, Shoe Leather Evangelization, and Pope Francis’ Pontificate March 13, 2014

This post is going to be a bit rambling as I want to mention several different things.

But most importantly, happy anniversary to Pope Francis on the first anniversary of his pontificate. I was out for a walk, convinced that I didn’t need to be glued to the television because it would be quite some time before the cardinals reached a consensus. (Shows you how dialed into the Holy Spirit I was/am…) I was on the phone talking to Teresa Tomeo and suddenly she kept repeating, “White smoke! White smoke!” Well, my walk turned into a run at that point. I made it home in time to see some of that smoke myself.

My initial inclination was that this would be the Pope of shoe leather evangelization. John Paul II reminded the world that the Church was still here and as relevant as ever. Benedict XVI made clear that Church teaching was the same as always. He was also one of the great reformers, even if he received few accolades for his effort. Francis is building on his predecessors and making our faith as alive as possible, encouraging us to live it. He doesn’t focus on “issues” that Catholics of various stripes would prefer. He encourages us to meet Christ in the person before us, whomever God has put in front of us, whether it’s a hungry person, someone in prison, a woman in a crisis pregnancy, a friend, or a family member. The point is to see this person’s humanity, their need, and in so doing to see Christ. Joan Desmond at National Catholic Register did me a lovely courtesy by picking up on this theme of shoe leather evangelization for her current post.

I also have a piece at Patheos’ “Public Square” on the role of women in the Church. I think we have to listen carefully to what Pope Francis has been saying. Yes, he’s said that women need a greater role in the Church; but we can’t limit our thoughts on women as to what offices they might hold in the local chancellory (where they already tend to have a significant presence) or try to fit them into clerical boxes. My thoughts here. As always, non-troll feedback is welcome and enjoyed!

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