Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” highlighted many of the economic and social justice issues of today’s world and prompted reactions from critics worldwide. William Purcell, associate director for Catholic Social Tradition and Practice at the Center for Social Concerns, said the pope “is not being an idealist, but a realist with ideals.” Purcell said the apostolic exhortation’s contents are both prescriptive and intellectual, focusing largely on pastoral theology and how the Church can engage and shepherd people. “Francis addresses [“Evangelii Gaudium”] to the whole people of God, so not just to the laity, but also to the bishops, clergy and religious,” Purcell said. “He’s talking to the leaders at all levels, including lay leaders … and he’s challenging us to find creative ways to share the key emphasis of God, which is love.” Many of the critiques of and negative reaction to the text are “short-sighted,” Purcell said, misunderstanding the context of the pope’s statements and its background in Catholic Social Tradition. One notable criticism came from talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who said Francis’s ideas were “pure Marxism” in a Nov. 27 show about the document, titled “It’s Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is.” Purcell said people should remember that the pope is writing about theology, not ideology. “What he’s really talking about is joy – that’s what ‘gaudium’ means,” Purcell said. “He’s talking about how we’re called to evangelize and that nobody likes a grim do-gooder. “What he’s saying is that we’ve got to be joyful about it, we’ve got to be embracing it. We should attract people by our actions, and so we should be joyful and life-giving.” The apostolic exhortation is the first thing Francis has written completely on his own during his papacy, and Purcell said it presents his vision of what the Church is about, speaking from his position as the head of the institution. “I think it’s exciting because people have been taking notice,” Purcell said. “Some people react to it out of their ideology and not their theology, and people struggle with some of the things he’s talking about.” Purcell said throughout the document, Francis quotes bishops from across the world, as well as past popes and saints. Because of this, the content “isn’t new, but part of our tradition.” “His insight comes from talking about these things in a new style, in an uplifting way, so people see the power of what we’re called to do,” Purcell said. “He becomes so welcoming, so charismatic, and he speaks to the common person. “It doesn’t become esoteric or dense, because he’s speaking to the person in the pew. People can read this and understand it … and I think they get excited by it.” The four main themes of the text are joy, poverty, peace and justice, Purcell said. Beyond the thematic theological elements, Francis “becomes prescriptive and deals with real, concrete ways of addressing problems,” he said. “The beauty of the exhortation is that he writes so well, and he writes so positively and so openly,” Purcell said. “This is a pope who is a Jesuit, so he’s a thinker. There are ideals of things like solidarity and the common good, but he’s being a realist about how we try to address those things. “He gives concrete examples; he names saints or people or particular things so it doesn’t just become words like ‘solidarity,’ but you get the stories and symbols and scripture behind that makes it come alive.” To best utilize the document’s wisdom, Purcell said parishes need to find a way to break it into parts and find pastoral applications for it. “It’s too much to swallow all at one time, because it’s so rich and there’s so much good within it,” he said. “But it’s fun to look at since [Pope Francis is] just so positive, and he speaks so directly. He’s prophetic, but not obnoxious.” Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
UNDERDOGS (By Gross) 5. Constellations ($491,055) 4. You Can’t Take It With You ($412,057) 3. Disgraced ($351,175) 2. The Audience ($331,101)* 1. On the Twentieth Century ($228,661)** UNDERDOGS (By Capacity) 5. Honeymoon in Vegas (64.86%) 4. Disgraced (63.28%) 3. The Phantom of the Opera (62.74%) 2. You Can’t Take It With You (60.19%) 1. On the Town (49.26%) It may be February and freezing in New York, but Broadway’s already got spring on its mind. Two new productions began preview performances on the Great White Way this past week, and theatergoers are already filling the houses. The Audience, starring the appropriately regal Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, appeared in the top five shows by capacity, bringing in 101.08% over two performances. Also appearing in the frontrunners are SRO perennials The Book of Mormon and The Elephant Man and Fish in the Dark—also in previews. The fifth spot was taken by Cabaret, marking a triumphant conclusion to Oscar nominee Emma Stone’s run in the tuner. We will keep in an eye on the production’s numbers as Sienna Miller begins on February 18. Additionally, the Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher-led On the Twentieth Century celebrated its first four preview performances with a house just shy of full at 96.52%. FRONTRUNNERS (By Capacity) 1. The Book of Mormon (102.59%) 2. The Elephant Man (101.74%) 3. Fish in the Dark (101.58%)*** 4. The Audience (101.08%)* 5. Cabaret (100.48%) FRONTRUNNERS (By Gross) 1. The Lion King ($1,726,042) 2. The Book of Mormon ($1,648,502) 3. Wicked ($1,586,692) 4. Aladdin ($1,489,612) 5. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ($1,132,369) *Number based on two preview performances **Number based on four preview performances ***Number based on seven preview performances Source: The Broadway League Here’s a look at who was on top—and who was not—for the week ending February 16: View Comments
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