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    A View from the Pew

    Martini anyone? 

    I love a good martini.

    Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. died on August 31 at age 85. A prolific writer and a prophetic voice within the Catholic Church for many years, Cardinal Martini stood for a reformed church as envisioned at the Second Vatican Council.  He walked the talk throughout his years as a priest and as a leader in the church. Before he died, Cardinal Martini gave a final interview to a Jesuit colleague and friend. Cardinal Martini read and approved the text and knew that the letter would be published posthumously. Take the time to read his inspired and visionary opinions here read more about Cardinal Martini, click here

    In his interview, Cardinal Martini shared that the institutional church’s culture “has become old, our churches and our religious houses are big and empty, the bureaucratic apparatus of the church grows, our rites and our dress are pompous. Do these things, however, express what we are today?”  Cardinal Martini then posed a pointed question. “Where are the heroes among us who can inspire us? By no means do we have to limit them by the boundaries of the institution.”  

    During this week’s Democratic National Convention, I saw one such hero emerge. Sr. Simone Campbell who heads a Washington-based Catholic social justice lobby called Network stepped onto the stage of the DNC and fearlessly delivered an exhilarating speech on faith, family and fairness. She hit a home run not only at the DNC but throughout the social network. (Watch the YouTube of Sr. Simone Campbell at the DNC here

    For me, Sr. Simone’s talk prophetically resounded with the scriptural words of today’s readings from Isaiah and St. James. “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!” (Isaiah 35: 4-7a). Sr. Simone provided a smattering of poignant stories of the people that the nuns on the bus ( encountered on their sojourn through nine states “to stand with struggling families and to lift up our Catholic sisters who serve them.”

    Sr. Simone unleashed Christ, the living Word of God as she braved the political podium of the DNC, speaking passionately on behalf of those who so often cannot speak, see, hear or walk themselves in a gut wrenching delivery. “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper,” she said to resounding applause. The people who listened to her ardent plea to ‘get on the bus’ of Christian justice nodded, wept, stood up and cheered out loud. I imagine that the crowd who met and heard Jesus did the same thing.

    I believe that Cardinal Martini and Sr. Simone Campbell provide us with two examples of what we can be as the church in the post-modern world. We have to start thinking outside the box to reach into people’s hearts and quicken the sparks that lay hidden under piles of dirty soot. Cardinal Martini hit the nail on the head in his posthumous letter when he said, “I advise the Pope and the bishops to seek out twelve people outside the lines for administrative positions, people who are close to the poorest, who are surrounded by young people, and who try new things. We need to be with people who burn in such a way that the Spirit can spread itself everywhere.” Sr. Simone Campbell and women like her should be on the top of that list.

    Martini anyone?