Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The University of St. Thomas Theology department recently hosted (11/14/13) a panel discussion on Pope Francis. The whole discussion is now available on UST's YouTube site (and embedded below).

The panelists were all from the department and the audience was comprised of undergraduates, seminarians, graduate students and community members.

The event was moderated by UST professor Michael Hollerich (Church history).

Massimo Faggioli (@MassimoFaggioli) (Church history) spoke first and gave an outline of the important events, statements, interviews and comments by the Pope over the last 6 months. One of the most significant differences between Francis and his immediate predecessors is his relationship to the press. This is most typified in his long form interview published in America Magazine, which Massimo helped to translate into English.

Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew
John Martens (NT), whom you know from BibleJunkies.com, discussed Pope Francis' use of New Testament in his interview.  Much of John's thoughts can be found in his earlier Bible Junkies' post.  He looks at, particularly, the call of Matthew and the Good Samaritan and focuses on the theme of mercy.    

Corrine Carvalho (HB/OT) addressed Pope Francis' approach to issues of gender and sexuality.  She discussed how Francis' approach to these issues is really more about tone than substance, since all that has changed is the manner of the discussion.  However, tone and the willingness is very important to dialogue.  She concluded (to a round of applause) about how the dissolution of mandatory celibacy for priests would actually compliment the Pope's own views on community and marriage.  

Paul Wodja (moral theology), made comparisons between Francis and John Paul II. John Paul II's style was proclamatory and focused on the moral teachings of the Church, while Francis' style is conversational and focused on the Gospel. He further compares them by focusing on their personalities as shaped by two cities: Karol Wojtyla was shaped by his time as the bishop of the communist-planned city of Nowa Huta, and Jorge Bergoglio's interaction with the slum Villa 31 while he was the bishop of Buenos Aries.

Many audience members had questions (quite a few had statements) and I encourage you to watch the whole event which lasts 90 minutes.
Isaac M. Alderman
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