It’s the night before Christmas and I’ve set aside the giddy play with my grandchildren (see Facebook) in order to look into the inky darkness outside in hopes of finding some signs that Christmas is coming. Here are the five signs that I noticed.
#1The good news is that Pope Francis refused to use the iron fist of papal authoritarianism by way of taking control of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family in October. On the contrary, he took the long view of reinvigorating the open discussion and the collegiality experienced at Vatican II and giving this a permanent place in discerning how ALL problems facing the Church need to be examined. Click here for my personal blog on this central topic.
#2 In his Christmas address to the Vatican officials, however, Pope Francis offered little holiday cheer. Rather, he rubbed their noses in the fifteen ways that their way of life was so far from the Gospel of Jesus. But he praised the low-paid women and men who worked in the Vatican offices for their honesty and hard work.
#3 Deb took over the direction of FutureChurch in September of 2013. Her reports from Rome during the time of the Synod were penetrating and forward looking. Bringing Fr. Tony Flannery to the USA for addressing the issue of power abuse in the Vatican was an act of creative genius. Continued support of the Nuns over and against their Roman detractors paid off big time when the final report of 16 Dec 2014 come forward as affirming their orthodoxy and social engagement in favor of the Gospel. The good news is that FutureChurch exposes Vatican oppression.
#4 President Obama offered good news last week when he finally sat down with Raul Castro and set a date for lifting the blockade of Cuba. Nearly 54 years ago, Fidel Castro, a middle-class lawyer and social activist, led a much-needed revolution that put the future of Cuba back into the hands of Cubans. Prior to this, Havana was an unregulated vice-capital for rich Americans run by the Mafia. Cubans provided cheap manual labor for the huge pineapple, banana, and sugar cane plantations that allowed American corporations to earn stunning profits. Since the USA wanted to send the message that no country could prosper without America’s aid and approval, the naval blockade of the Havana harbor made certain that no goods would enter or leave Cuba without American approval. This insured that Cubans would remain poor, isolated, and indigent. See the words of JFK in favor of the Cuban Revolution. And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I just discovered that Pope Francis was responsible for nudging both sides into dialogue. That’s the true Christmas shining through.
#5 I had my left hip replaced five weeks ago. I’ve dedicated my period of convalescence to deep reflection upon my life. A few long-time friends will be spending time with me and advancing this project of reinventing myself. The men’s group to which I belong will be my companions in carrying these changes forward into the new year.
— Giraffe Standing Tall