To the editor: 

On opening the Oct. 31 issue of the Catholic Sun, and seeing the cover story I thought I would read something from the heart welcoming divorced and re-married Catholics back home since Pope Francis is giving us a Heart Church and not a Head Church. Instead I read one column of welcome and three columns of rules and regulations to receive Eucharist. I have never been invited to anyone’s supper with three columns of rules and regulations for the dinner table. Jesus, on the other hand, told his disciples to go to the byroads and invite to the wedding anyone you come upon (Mt. 22:9).
  I fingered to the back page hoping to read something more amenable and positive, and I got a commentary on Pope Francis’ “Top Ten,” by Opus Dei writer, Greg Burke. I can’t think of anyone less suited than a numerary member of Opus Dei to interpret Pope Francis. Talk about a watering down, it made the new Red Slipper Church insipid. Pope Benedict selected Greg Burke, the Rome correspondent for Fox News, to take on the strategic communications role at the Vatican Secretary of State. Moreover, numerary membership for Burke is “central to his life, not just another affiliation. Numeraries are unmarried, usually live in Opus Dei houses and contribute much of their earnings to Opus Dei” [NCR 6/26/12].
  Go directly to the text and read Francis’ remarks to reporters in his plain-plane interview flying home from Brazil.
  When Eugene Kennedy gave a presentation a few years ago to Voice of the Faithful in Syracuse, the troubled audience asked a simple question regarding the calloused Episcopal response to the clerical abuse problem. With three words Kennedy responded: they are hardwired. The audience had a hard time accepting that. Actually, we are all hardwired, and it can’t be deleted with the push of a key. Most can’t get unwired.
  We have to cross wires to short the system just long enough for the lay people to be able to say no, Father, and no, Bishop. One person shared with me that she never said no to a priest . . . . nor, unfortunately, did our abused youth.
  We need a Franciscan reform. In San Damiano’s Church Francis’ prayers were answered by Jesus: Francis, repair my church, which has fallen into disrepair, as you can see. Francis took it literally, took money from his father and bought the mortar and stone. Only later did he realize the vision was deeper. This enlightenment led him to Rome to beseech Pope Innocent III to end the violent crusades and set an example of a life of simplicity and poverty.
  We need a Franciscan revolution. Saint Francis put away his fine clothes; Pope Francis put away his white shoes. These are symbolic actions of what the entire church needs to do. We are the Church. Pope Francis directs us. He invites us and encourages us. He said: “We need a church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a church capable of entering into their conversations. Are we a church capable of warming hearts? A church capable to leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? . . . . Do we give the laity the freedom to continue discerning in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission the Lord has entrusted to them?” (NCR 8/16/13).
  Burke suggests in his article, “We kick the ball to Francis and Francis scores the goals.” I beg to disagree. It is just the opposite. Francis kicked the ball to us and now it is our mission to score the goals.

(Rev.) V. James Lauducci
Retired Priest of the Syracuse Diocese
Forestport, N.Y.

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