One of the results of electing a new pope is that some people notice what his emphasis is and start to urge the rest of the church to begin to work in harmony with the pontiff's vision.
Which is why, earlier this week, groups have been urging American bishops attending the annual gathering of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore to work in harmony with Pope Francis' call to make the Catholic Church a church for the poor.
As my colleague Joshua McElwee at The National Catholic Reporter wrote, "The Catholic Democrats and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good made the call for the focus on the poor Monday, holding a press conference at which they released an open letter they are sending to each of the ten bishop candidates to be elected president at this year's assembly."
The call to create a "church for the poor" certainly resonates with the ministry of Jesus, who relentlessly focused on the outcasts and needy.
But I think it's well worth the time of the church universal to unpack what a "church for the poor" might look like and to ask some basic questions about how it would operate and even who would pay for it.
In addition, it's useful to remember that often it's the rich and haughty who need what the church has to offer to overcome their idolatry of wealth and their arrogance about worldly success. Ignoring those needs would be like imagining that no one in a wealthy suburb has any problems or needs that the church should be addressing.
So while I like this pope's emphasis on a church that focuses its ministry on the poor, let's remember, as the Beatitudes remind us, that this also can include the poor in spirit and not just those without some crisp $20 bills in their pockets.
P.S.: If you want to help care for poor people right here in KC, whether you're Catholic or not, lend a hand to Richard Tripp's organization, Care of Poor People, Inc, which has some events coming up this month that you can read about on the link I've given you here.
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AFGHANISTAN'S LAST JEW
Only one Jew is known to remain in Afghanistan, and he's in a world of trouble, it's reported. He has our sympathy but we also wonder what it must be like not to have to worry about what other members of your local congregation think of what you do and say.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.