Monday, February 12, 2018

Theology of the people critical to understanding Francis Review: 'Pope Francis and the Theology of the People' by Rafael Luciani (Part 1) Feb 12, 2018 by Michael Sean Winters

At Holy Thursday Mass in 2008, then-Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes and kisses the feet of residents of a shelter for drug users at a church in a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The cardinal took the name Francis after being elected pope March 13, 2013. (CNS/Reuters/Enrique Garcia Medina)

The theology of the people is not well known here in the United States. A couple years back, I attended a luncheon for Fr. Carlos Maria Galli, one of the leading practitioners of the theology of the people, and the poor, patient man had to cope with the most rudimentary of questions, and not just from the journalists. From the theologians too! Luciani demonstrates how and why the theology of the people had a formative impact on Jorge Maria Bergoglio, and also shows its continuing influence on his writings now that he is Pope Francis. This theology is critical to understanding not just the current pope but the church in Latin America which, increasingly, is not only leading the way at the Holy See but in the U.S. church as well.
This theology emerged in Argentina during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council, which sat from 1962 through 1965. The Argentine bishops, in 1966, issued a pastoral declaration for the post-conciliar period that recognized the paradigm shift Vatican II represented and pointed the Argentine church in a new direction:
Our great task at this time, in order to bring about the post-conciliar stage, must consist of three things: 1) Being imbued by the council, assimilating it by reflecting and internalizing its ideas and its spirit; 2) Consolidating and improving the communal form of the Church and its collegial structures: assembly of bishops, presbyterate, pastoral council, structuring and coordination of the laity; 3) Fostering greater openness to the world on the part of clergy and laity. This entails greater sincerity in fostering the spirit of poverty and service. In order to carry out this program, the Church in Argentina must increase reflection and dialogue in all sectors and on all levels.
So, right out of the box, you see the themes that would ripen in the church in Latin America: poverty, service, collegiality, dialogue, communal form of the church, openness to the world. But, there, unlike so many dioceses in the U.S., the bishops were in the vanguard, not fighting a rearguard action against the implementation of the council. 

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