Where There's Hope, There's Life
This book introduces readers to 12 homeless women in a way that is aimed at changing the reader’s perception of the street poor, as the women are encountered through their own voices. In discovering their pain, the reader comes to realise the beauty and strength of these women.
Their stories are not intended to elicit guilt or pity, but to evoke compassionate understanding and a concrete response.
As goodwill alone is never quite enough, in the second part of the book, the author provides a theological framework that encourages the reader to share more fully in the hope which is offered to all people.
Among the testimonials that support the book is this from Australia’s Fr Gerry Arbuckle SM (Refounding and Pastoral Development Research Unit,
"Society makes invisible both the people of the margins and the powers that trap them there. It was the same in the time of Christ. Given his preferential love of those on society's boundaries, he dared to encourage them to speak for themselves. Justice begins by listening to those who know about injustice.
"Anthony Gittins has eminently followed Christ's example. Women who are homeless recount in their own words their inner pain from violence and social marginalization. Yet they maintain an abiding hope in God's love. This book has the potential to change how theologians think, write and teach. All readers will feel moved to reassess their priorities in ministry. The book is also a timely reminder for all to record people's stories in full before daring to offer any interpretation of what they are hearing."
Anthony J. Gittins, CSSp, has taught at The Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, for the past 20 years and is currently the Bishop Ford, M.M., Professor of Missiology. Born in Manchester England, he earned an MA and PhD from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He has taught and worked in 35 countries and his pastoral outreach includes ministry in cultures from Africa to the Pacific, and work with Chicago's disenfranchised, especially homeless women. He is the author of a dozen books and numerous articles, including his most recent book, Come, Follow Me: The Commandments of Jesus (2004).
Blessed are the peace makers
September 21 marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Henri Nouwen, one of our most popular writers on the spiritual life.
A man of prodigious output, he produced a sweeping catalogue of books, including such titles as Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World; and The Return of the Prodigal Son. One might surmise that here was a strict ponderer of the inner life. Or a guide to navigating one's private relationship with God. But Henri's thinking surged beyond such narrow channels. Few realise the full spectrum of his spirituality.
Not that he didn't leave us a clue or two. The first emerges in his knack for walking away from positions of prestige. Quite an auspicious beginning for Henri -- teaching assignments at Notre Dame and then the divinity schools at Yale and Harvard. But he had a conscience, and it bothered him. He knew the Gospel summons toward "downward mobility," solidarity with the poor. And thus he slipped off the chains of the tenure track and spent some time casting about…
I think Henri Nouwen walked the road to peace and over time developed a beautiful spirituality of nonviolence.
Last year, Peacework, his masterpiece on the duty of disarmament, was finally published. There he lays out a path to peace for all of us. Henri wanted us to spend time in prayer, walk with Jesus, and love everyone on earth as our very sister and brother.
"For Jesus," Henri wrote, "there are no countries to be conquered, no ideologies to be imposed, no people to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved." (Henri Nouwen’s spirituality of peace full text, by John Dear, SJ)
A patriot for the world
Journalist and scholar Barbara Ward brought a Christian conscience to global issues
In a society riven by religious fundamentalism, one hears the faint echo of Tertullian’s query: What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? At their peril Catholics forget that they have a counter to this stark divide between the life of the mind and the spirit.
They are inheritors of a rich tradition linking Catholic intellectual life and values to questions of human well-being and social justice. That 20th century inheritance grows dimmer each year.
To recover both its history and the lives of its participants is no academic venture. Its retrieval has important consequences for re-imagining the present.
The case of Barbara Ward, Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth, who died 25 years ago this year, is instructive.
As journalist, lecturer and broadcaster in the post-war period, she addressed issues of European economic and ideological unity and urged Western governments to share their prosperity with the rest of the world.
Later, in the 1960s, she turned her attention to environmental questions. She was an early advocate of sustainable development long before this term gained widespread usage. (full text by Dana Greene)
Historic media conference heralds new text
The first Vatican press conference to announce the Ramadan message (of greetings to Muslims for the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, Id al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan) in the 40-year-history of the message has been used to mark also the release of a new collection of official texts on interreligious dialogue.
The volume is titled Interreligious Dialogue in the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church from the Second Vatican Council to John Paul II (1963-2005).
The book begins with documents of Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. It continues with documents published by dicasteries of the Roman Curia and legislative texts of the Church, taking passages from the Code of Canon Law. The volume also includes an appendix with documents of the International Theological Commission on the subject, as well as geographical and analytical indexes.
More than 1000 pages in length, it has been published in Italian, French and English.
According to John Allen Jrn, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, the presentation of this new collection of official texts is seen, in part, as a way of signalling that the work of interreligious dialogue in the Vatican continues, following the removal earlier this year of the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, to papal nuncio in Egypt.
In 2003, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue published a collection of all the Ramadan messages issued up to that point under the title, Meeting in Friendship: Messages to Muslims for the End of Ramadan.