On Thursday the 11, Boston College hosted a panel discussion on the launching of Crux, which will cover everything from Catholicism around the world, to personal spirituality, to social justice. Editor of The Boston Globe, Brian McGrory, has high hopes for Crux, wanting it to be the best paper covering the Vatican written in English. Cardinal O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston spoke about the breadth and depth of the influence of the Church through out history as it has permeated “science, culture, the development of civilization”. Much of his opening statement was dedicated to speaking about Pope Francis and the impact he has already had on the Church. He spoke about world youth day in Rio de Janeiro and the energy and inspiration the Pope created among the young people.
Overall, Pope Francis was the main source of conversation and praise. It has been clear ever since he first became pope that Francis in touch with the people, refusing to live in the isolated papal apartments, and using Twitter. He has shown active compassion by getting out of the popemobile to embrace a disfigured man, and letting children in the popemobile. According to one of the panelists, he is “giving the Church a facelift”, by pointing out that the Church is not “a catalog of prohibitions,” and instead focusing on virtues like mercy and vulnerability. He advocates for “tenderness” by protecting the marginalized of society, especially children and the elderly. He wants to stress the ‘the attractiveness of a life of wisdom’, in order to convert people to authentic religion as opposed to worship of materialism, self absorption, or “be nice, feel good” mantras. Pope Francis’ messages create much hype. When he was in Brazil, a group of nuns pushed their way towards him, screaming “like teenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert,” according one of the panelists present at the time.
On a more serious note, the Pope will also discuss the issue of divorcees receiving communion. There is division within the Church on this prevalent issue, and it seems that Pope Francis will be able to address it diplomatically coming from a position of wisdom. Many of his positions look at multiple aspects of a problem, such as the humanitarian crisis that is U.S. immigration; he advocates for caring for the children coming over the border, having informative policies about the dangers of crossing the border, and promoting development and stabilization of the countries from which immigrants are trying to escape in the first place.
While the Pope’s actions and words affect millions of Catholics around the world, it remains to be seen whether they will affect politics. In terms of Crux’s part in doing this, Brian McGrory says that Crux will be an objective story telling and intelligent conversation forum that has no inherent perspective or specific mission other than reporting Catholic news. Although this is not a direct approach to affecting the larger community or to depolarizing politics, the hope is that through discussion and interaction people will move away from the constraints of what he calls “tribes,”or affinity communities where people of certain specific political and or religious convictions form an insular and often narrow-minded lifestyle. The word Catholic means universal, so it is appropriate that Crux will become an objective medium for all “kinds” of Catholics – Kennedy, cafeteria, Opus Dei, Christmas and Easter, Democrat and Republican – to interact and discuss, and thereby alter the political and global atmosphere to reflect the Catholic values of mercy and love for which Pope Francis advocates.