This edition: The Pope, Poverty, and PoetryTweet
First aired: January 6, 2014.
In just a few months, Pope Francis, the first in history to take the name of the patron saint of the poor, has proven to be one of the most outspoken pontiffs in recent history, especially when it comes to income inequality.
He has criticized the “widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs.” And in his recent "apostolic exhortation" on "the economy of exclusion and inequality,” he said: “The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”
It remains to be seen if Pope Francis can bend the institutional Church to his exhortation, but for the moment at least, it seems as if the spirit of Occupy Wall Street has settled into a one-man occupation of the Vatican.
Francis is the first Jesuit to ascend to the papacy, so we turn to Jesuit-educated author and historian Thomas Cahill to get his perspective. This week on Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers speaks with Cahill in a conversation on the meaning of Pope Francis and the relevance of the Church in the 21st century.
Over the past two decades, Cahill has been writing a series of best-selling books he calls “The Hinges of History” – critical moments in Western civilization brought to life through the stories of individuals whose words and deeds helped make us who we are today. They include How the Irish Saved Civilization (on The New York Times Bestseller List for nearly two years) and The Gifts of the Jews. His latest is Heroes and Heretics about the new beginnings and new ideas at the heart of the Renaissance and Reformation.
Also on the broadcast, the poet Philip Levine joins Bill to discuss why Americans have lost sight of who really keeps the country afloat – the hard working men and women who toil, unsung and unknown, in our nation’s fields and factories. During the years he himself spent in the grit, noise and heat of the assembly lines of Detroit auto plants, Levine discovered that his gift for verse could provide “a voice for the voiceless.” Described by one critic as “a large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland,” Philip Levine is the author of twenty collections of poems and books of translations and essays. He is the recipient of the Pulitzer and two National Book Awards and recently served as the nation’s poet laureate at the Library of Congress.