A Church of the Poor

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Does a “social justice” approach to the gospel inevitably have to be at odds with a traditionalist emphasis on orthodoxy? Must we see Pope Francis as the “progressive pope” and his predecessors as the “orthodox popes,” and thus define everything in terms of American political categories?

In this unique treatment of the theology of Pope Francis and his notion of a “church of the poor” and the implications for theological orthodoxy, Sedmak argues that Pope Francis can allow us to understand "orthodoxy in a new key.” Using resources ranging from scripture to Catholic Social Teaching to the early Church Fathers, Sedmak argues that an authentic and faithful church is not one obsessed with dogma or ceremony, but one that is poor as Christ was poor, in the multifaceted sense of that phrase: compassionate, unattached to material wealth, focused on flourishing and right relationship with God.

Clemens Sedmak is professor of social ethics in the Keough School of Global Affairs at Notre Dame and concurrent professor at Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.  He is the author of Doing Local Theology (Orbis).

Book Details

A Church of the Poor
Pope Francis and the Transformation of Orthodoxy
Clemens Sedmak
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A Church of the Poor: Table of Contents 496 Kb
A superb work, one which will strike a chord in the heart of theologians, students, and other curious persons among the faithful.
Clearly articulates the drift among some Roman Catholics toward placing social ethics above doctrinal consistency at the head of the Church’s concerns. Sedmak gracefully presents that position with helpful historical analysis that allows his readers to see the heart of his position and its implications. The volume makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing conversation by making plain what is often assumed in discussions of orthodoxy and social ethics.
What will it take to become truly a Church of the Poor? Clemens Sedmak takes us behind the usual rhetoric around this theme to explore the profound changes of outlook, ways of thinking and feeling, and modes of action that will need to take place in the life of the Church. A must-read for anyone who professes to want the kind of Church to which Pope Francis is calling us.
A powerful reflection on the ways in which the moral health and spiritual wealth of the Church are measured by its commitment to the last and least among us. As Sedmak probes the logic of love in the logic of the paschal mystery, he helps us see the many ways Pope Francis is making more visible the invisible heart of God."
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