Recently I visited a nearby country church with a tumultuous history. Built in a berg called Klondike, it was originally a Catholic church. In the ’90s, the building was hit by lightning. The volunteer fire department bravely climbed up into the attic and put the fire out, at some risk to their own lives. Repairs were made and the church went on.
But a few years later, in 2005, the diocese closed the church, and its members migrated to another nearby parish.
When Pope Francis thinks of climate change, he thinks of social justice. In his 2013 inaugural homily as pope, Francis implored “all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life” to “be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” Speaking at an Italian university a year later, Francis announced, “This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to give us what she has within her.” In 2015, Vatican-watchers expect Francis to produce an encyclical that situates climate change within the framework of Catholic social teaching.
Francis’s position on the injustices of climate change is not new to the Roman Catholic Church.
A few weeks ago a child at church came into worship near tears. Her feelings had been hurt because she perceived that a couple of other kids had purposely excluded her from something. Normally I would probably not have been aware of any of this, but the sad child was my own. She sat down in the front pew and curled herself up into a little ball. It was one of those moments when I decided to be mom and not pastor. I sat with her and cuddled her and tried very hard not to give the other children the stink-eye. By the time the first hymn started she was okay and life went on.
Kids will be kids and I know that when two kids are gathered, fun ensues, and when three kids are gathered, one of them usually ends up feeling left out.
Here’s a paradox about human nature: we look for home in a world where we never feel fully and restfully at home. That paradox explains why even the most settled and contented people have moments when they wonder if they will ever arrive where they most want to be.
Amid weeks with more than their share of bad news, one story before the new year seemed like a glimmer of light in the darkness. The world grabbed onto it: Pope Francis comforting a boy as he grieved the death of his dog, telling the boy he’ll see his dog in heaven.