What’s this about?

This blog is not for experts. I am not an expert. I’m just a guy who has been following the new pope, Francis. Yes, I studied Catholic social thought in graduate school 20 years ago. No, I don’t think that makes me an expert.

I’ve noticed a lot of people — die-hard Catholics, casual Catholics, former Catholics, non-Catholics – following the new pope in the mainstream press. I’ve posted a few things on social media both from secular outlets and Catholic ones, and I am always interested in the diversity of people who say “Right on.” Especially those who really don’t know a whole lot about Church teachings. This blog is for them.

Right after Thanksgiving (before Advent), Pope Francis released a document called an “apostolic exhortation.” This is a long teaching document that comes after a big meeting of bishops (called a synod). The topic of the meeting was “the new evangelization” (which, technically, isn’t so new, given that it was coined as a term by John Paul II, now two popes ago). The document, translated into English as “The Joy of the Gospel,” is by most accounts Pope Francis’ first big statement as pope about what the Church should be doing.

You probably saw the news about how Pope Francis called out “trickle down economics” as a failure. This is where that came from. There’s a lot more in this document about inequality, poverty and economics, but that’s only a small part of the scope of this work. Francis has a lot to say about the Church and a great deal of it applies to other parts of the world, too. I hope to bring those points out.

Francis is an excellent writer, and parts of this document are really beautiful. But it’s more than 200 pages, and, frankly, reading papal documents is an acquired taste. I would encourage you all to try it, and maybe you’ll read something here that makes you want to dive in, which is great. But I’m a realist.

By the way, here’s the link.

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