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Br. Steve Herro's Blog


Br. Steve HerroBr. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. For several years, he headed the justice and peace ministry of St. Norbert Abbey and presently serves as Manager of Mission and Ministry, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA. His current ministry connects him to national Catholic issues and Church ministers throughout the country.

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of neither of the organizations, St. Norbert Abbey nor Catholic Charities USA, nor of any of the organizations' members.

February 1, 2015
Entry #36: "It is a matter of r-e-s-p-e-c-t"

by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

Pope Francis jumped into the fray the last month when, in the context of the Paris terrorist attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo, he warned that there were limits on freedom of expression. In an interview with the press on an international flight, he said, "...You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others." The Pope, of course, was not condoning the terrorist attack on the press office but was lifting up the importance of respect of others' religious traditions. Political cartoons and editorials mocking another's faith are out of bounds. Sorry, I don't agree that "...names will never hurt me"; language does matter.

Pope Francis' reminder holds great relevance for us in ministry and public office. Have you ever noticed how some church ministers can be intolerant of those who have a degree from "that" institution or interpret scripture or the social themes of Catholic social teaching differently than they do?

This can be translated to include civil dialogue on the floors of Congress, the blogosphere, office water cooler, or even the family e-mail list. Can I offer a few suggestions? Use the earned elected titles of elected officials instead of pundits' nicknames (President Bush, not "Dubbah"; President Obama, not "Barry").

Fr. Larry Snyder, who recently completed ten years as President/CEO of Catholic Charities USA, offered these wishes and advice for the Church and Washington policymakers in a January 21, 2015, interview with Catholic News Service:

Let me start with my wish for the church. What is a concern for me is that our church is very divided. We need to realize that we are all people acting in good faith and that we are people who are inspired by the Second Vatican Council even though we might interpret the actions that we should be taking in a little different way. (I hope) we could get a little more respect for each other and an appreciation why people think differently and realize it's all legitimate. It would further the Gospel.

As far as policymakers here in Washington, to me the frustration is the same. Unfortunately, people are more concerned with getting re-elected. That's how they base everything rather than what is the common good that we should be working for.


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