Thursday, 17 November 2022 03:48

A Vision for Renewal: The Social Teachings of Pope Francis by Michael Casey, OCSO

AVisionForRenewal Cover 350
A book review by Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM
In the Introduction the author posits this question: How does Pope Francis differ from his predecessors? First, Pope Francis speaks with extraordinary simplicity and frankness. Second, like all good educators he repeats his main teachings, but in ways that further advance their themes. And third, his teachings are prophetically grounded in reality. 
In the subsequent nine chapters, the author illustrates by examples the existence and relevance of these distinctive qualities.
Pope Francis is intimately aware of the chaotic and radical political, economic, and social changes globally affecting all aspects of life, including the church itself. Nothing seems secure anymore. Casey calls this in the first chapter a ‘Paradigm Shift’. As Francis says: “We are not so much living in an epoch of change, but a change of epoch.” The traumatising pandemic brought to the surface in dramatically sharp terms what the change of epoch means. When an event as massive and globally significant as the pandemic happens, the political, social, and economic reverberations take generations to play out, and they spin off in unpredictable and often tumultuous and violent directions. We daily witness this. 
Yet “Despite these dark clouds,” says Francis, “I invite everyone to renewed hope … it can open us to grand ideals. "We must all seek the common good together,” says Francis, “otherwise we will emerge for the worse.”
The author’s gift is his ability throughout to alert readers to the pastoral relevance of Francis’ teachings. Hence, in the subsequent six chapters, the author reflects on several significant topics dear to Pope Francis: Joy, Synodality, Inclusivity, Interculturality, Fraternity, and Our Common Home. Then Chapter Eight answers this question: What are the implications of these themes for religious congregations? Michael Casey, as a religious himself, highlights the down-to-earth wisdom of the exhortations of Pope Francis for religious: “We cannot,” says Francis, “remain stuck in nostalgia for the past or simply keep repeating the same old things or everyday complaints.” Francis then explains what this statement means in practical terms.
The final chapter is headed ‘Challenge’. Casey writes with hope: “We should allow ourselves to be encouraged by [Francis’] visible humanity and good humour to come to the conclusion that, with God’s grace the task [of implementing his teachings] is not impossible.”  
Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM, is the author of 'The Pandemic and the People of God: Cultural Impacts and Pastoral Responses'' (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2021).


 "A Vision for Renewal" is published by St Pauls Publications and can be purchased from