At the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters misspells my name and misunderstands my column. According to Winters, I—or at least a certain Mr. “Donio”—try to “twist Pope Francis into the kind of Catholic neo-con who, well, the kind who reads First Things and likes it.” But the effort is “not very successful,” since the column in question “dismisses social justice as a proper concern for the Church, and obfuscates the actual way in which Pope Francis speaks about the issue, e.g., it is about structures as well as attitudes!”
In fact, I praise Francis’ commitment to the poor, calling direct attention to his “first pastoral visit to Lampedusa, where he spoke eloquently for abandoned migrants.” At Lampesuda, the pope spoke out powerfully against both “the globalization of indifference” toward the poor and the need to transform our hearts, on a personal, Christian basis. This dual approach toward social justice is deeply Catholic, and reminds me of the heroic Catholic witness of Dorothy Day and Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose causes I have long endorsed—but it is not to be confused, as I wrote, with “secular progressivism, which detaches spirituality from social justice.”
I have read enough of Mr. Winters to know that he is not a secularist, and supports the Church’s teachings on social justice, which I commend him for. I hope Mr. Donio—if we can ever locate him—would agree.