Campus lenten series discusses the spirituality of Pope Francis


Fr. Fred Kammer S.J. reads from Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) in the Ignatius Chapel. The first of an on campus lenten series focusing on Pope Francis’ spirituality was titled The Joy of the Gospel. Photo credit: Caleb Beck

Caleb Beck

With two years of progress already behind him, Pope Francis shows no signs of pumping the brakes on the radicalism and mercy that have defined his character in the Papacy.

Francis’s beliefs were the focus of the first installment of Loyola University’s Lenten discussions last Wednesday, in a talk titled “The Joy of the Gospel” after the Pope’s 2013 book of the same name. The exhortation outlines the church’s primary mission of preaching the gospel in the modern world.

After a brief introduction of the upcoming Lent events, Fr. Fred Kammer, S.J. Director of the Jesuit Social Institute, took the podium to explain the Pope’s mission statement for the Church.

“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come,” Kammer read from the text.

Kammer went on to explain that gospel is good news in essence, and posed a powerful question to the audience.

“When joy is constantly born anew, why should we all not also enter into this great stream of joy?,” Kammer said.

The question mirrors the Pope’s ambitions of combating inequality and greed by resolving the structural causes of poverty.

“There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. The globalization of indifference is at odds with the revolution of tenderness,” Francis said in The Joy of the Gospel.

Beyond inequality, The Pope seeks to advocate piety, culture and reaching out to the margins of society. Through embracing joyful evangelization, he hopes to change the Church for the better.

“Joyful evangelization will transform our church, our parish, our marriages and our families,” Francis writes.

Sue Weishar, Loyola’s Migration Specialist, is in strong favor of Pope Francis’s core messages and compares their quality to those of Jesus Christ.

“I find that Pope Francis’s writings, including Evangelii Gaudium, resonate closely with the core teachings of Jesus Christ,” Weishar said. “Because these core teachings were and remain revolutionary for a world that continues to equate mercy with weakness, seeks to exclude the poor and vulnerable from the goods of the earth intended for all and lusts after wealth and power.”

Weishar believes that Francis’ teachings are revolutionary for how closely they reflect the core of Jesus Christ’s teachings.