Brueggeman Center hosts Pope discussion

By: Tatum Hunter ~Staff Writer~

Pope Francis’ unique approach to the papacy has many people talking. Next week, students, faculty and administrators at Xavier will gather to offer their opinions on Pope Francis’ leadership style and teachings.

The Brueggeman Center for Dialogue is holding an open discussion of the election and papacy of Pope Francis at Bellarmine Chapel at 7 p.m. on March 18 in Bellarmine Chapel.

The event is co-sponsored by various campus groups, including the Catholic Ministry Team and the Center for Mission and Identity.

The discussion will feature Dr. Gillian Ahlgren, who specializes in church history and mysticism, and Dr. Chris Pramuk, who studies issues of racial justice in society and the Church. Ahlgren and Pramuk will offer their perspectives on the papacy of Pope Francis as they field questions and lead discussion.

The event is geared mainly toward members of the Catholic community but is open to anyone who would like to attend.

“This pope is touching people from all walks of life and faith traditions,” Cynthia Cummins, administrative assistant at the Brueggeman Center, said.

The goal of the event is to facilitate discussion surrounding some of the more interesting aspects of Pope Francis’ leadership, such as the way he draws upon both the Jesuit and Franciscan traditions in his teachings and writings.

Attendees will have the chance to voice their comments, questions and concerns regarding the choices Pope Francis has made so far in his papacy and his reception throughout the world.

Although he has spent only one year as head of the Catholic Church, his papacy has not been short on controversy. On multiple occasions, the pope’s statements have created a stir. He has been an outspoken critic of materialism among the religious and has suggested that the Catholic community should diversify the issues at the forefront of discussion and focus less on subjects like abortion and contraceptive use.

“Naturally, since his attitude towards the papacy is different from any other pope, people talk,” Annie Szendrey, member of the Catholic Ministry Team, said.

“Within the Catholic community at large, I’ve noticed many people have been concerned with the way his words are taken. Many Catholics have voiced issue with the fact that, often, his comments are taken out of the full translation or manuscript. In doing this, sometimes his meaning is taken differently than in the whole context of what he was saying in the document or speech.”

This event should help both students and faculty alike develop a better understanding of the traditions behind Pope Francis’ teachings and the attitudes surrounding this unique leader.

“Since many students came to Xavier because of its Jesuit heritage, they seem to feel a real connection with Pope Francis, due to his order,” Szendrey said. “I pray that he brings many more people to the Church than before he was elected. I’m not sure how he will do that, but I trust that God is leading him there.”