Sojourners Magazine: September-October 2013
THE ELECTION OF a new pope has brought a spirit of change to the Catholic Church. And while that change will primarily impact Catholics, what the church and the pope say and do can impact all Christians. In a world that desperately needs authentic moral leadership for peace and economic justice, Pope Francis has already continued the prophetic voice of his predecessors. In this issue, we read some tea leaves from the first months of his papacy.
John Carr, who for two decades worked on peace and justice concerns for the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, talks about the themes at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their importance for all Christians. Stephen F. Schneck of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies grounds Francis in his “radical hope” to make a church for the poor. Sister Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association, shares her belief that lay and religious women have nothing to fear and much to look forward to in his papacy.
Protestant churches, of course, grapple with similar topics, and we tell some of those stories this month. We look at polling data on pastors’ evolving views on social justice ministries, and a seminary curriculum that integrates intellectual and experiential learning in the city of Indianapolis.
As austerity budgets are leading to deep cuts in social programs, churches are responding by acting for justice. In North Carolina, “Moral Mondays” rallies, with hundreds of clergy in the lead, are protesting in the state capital every week with the message “forward together.”
Following the Zimmerman verdict, a long-overdue conversation on racial injustice is beginning. We offer Ewuare X. Osayande’s powerful poem to the mix. From the Vatican to the streets, the church is speaking. Thanks be to God.