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Letters to Pope Francis: Rebuilding a Church with Justice and Compassion [Paperback]

Matthew Fox

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Book Description

24 Jun 2013

The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the Papacy marked a series of historic Papal firsts—first Jesuit, first from the Americas and first from the Southern Hemisphere. But most moving was his being the first to take the name of St. Francis. At a time when the Vatican is embroiled in decades-long scandals of the Curia and its clergy around the globe, this act has inspired the world to hope for a church rebuilt in the spirit of his namesake, Francis.

Former Dominican priest Matthew Fox presents a series of heartfelt letters to his brother in Christ about the great challenges facing the church today, drawing from the deep spiritual and theological sources that have been suppressed since Vatican II, and implores him to restore the sensus fidelium (the sense of the faithful) and reshape a church with justice and compassion.

“LETTERS TO POPE FRANCIS is a polemic against the calcified power structure the pope inherited; but his tone is one of clear respect for the addressee...Fox deserves credit for his relentless consistency as a radical; he kept arguing for a church to broaden its thinking and boundaries, to welcome the outcasts, while the bishops and Vatican turned in, shunning clergy abuse victims, turning nuns into heretics and by the way disgorging billions in legal losses for sheltering pedophiles. One can pity Pope Francis for the mess he has before him; but by criticizing an imperial economy that wreaks injustice on the poor, this pope is digging toward the same taproot that animates Matt Fox. It is unlikely the handlers around Pope Francis would ever let him get a book like LETTERS TO POPE FRANCIS. But...It is not a stretch to imagine this Francis nodding at certain passages from Fox, a latter-day Jeremiah with his trumpet wailing at the wall.” —Jason Berry in The Global Post

"Just published, the book is a welcome set of missives, echoing themes that are at once familiar and well argued. Surely, the new Pope will never read these letters, but one wishes that he would, particularly before planning what he will say to millions of Catholic youth in Rio de Janeiro later this month...the bulk of this thought-provoking book is sanely reasoned and profoundly important. I hope that Catholics will read it." — Jon Sweeney on The Huffington Post

"Matthew Fox's creation spirituality is the spirituality of the future; and his theology of the Cosmic Christ is the theology of the future." — Father Bede Griffiths

“Matthew Fox might well be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America. He has the scholarship, the imagination, the courage, the writing skill to fulfill this role at a time when the more official Christian theological traditions are having difficulty in establishing any vital contact with either the spiritual possibilities of the present or with their own most creative spiritual traditions of the past...He has, it seems, created a new mythic context for leading us out of our contemporary religious and spiritual confusion into a new clarity of mind and peace of soul, by affirming rather than abandoning any of our traditional beliefs.” — Thomas Berry

"History will name Fox one of the great Christian spirits of our age." — John Shelby Spong

“Those who illumine the questions of life walk a dangerous path. They hold up for examination the very pilasters of the systems that depend on them for its credibility. They threaten old paradigms and open new possibility where once only cocksure certitude had been. Galileo did such things and suffered for it. Luther did such things and was exiled for it. Matt Fox did such things and cast a light into the recesses of the medieval mind that was a whole world wide. He brought to light again the notions of basic wholeness and the essential goodness of creation. He gives us all new light into the nature of God in the nature of the self.” — Sister Joan Chittister



Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (24 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1490372970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1490372976
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 0.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 826,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Matthew Fox holds a Ph.D. in spirituality, summa cum laude, from the Institut Catholique de Paris. His long career of teaching ministry includes founding the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality, which was shut down after 19 years under pressure from then-Cardinal Ratzinger whose pursuit of him and other theologians led to Fox's "silencing" in 1989 and ultimate expulsion from the Dominican Order in 1993. He started the University of Creation Spirituality and is author of 31 books on spirituality and culture including Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, A Spirituality Named Compassion and Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times.

He has been active as a priest in the Anglican community since being expelled from the Dominicans, teaching and working with youth to create a more just and compassionate world—one in keeping with the spirit of St. Francis. Fox is visiting scholar with the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Learn more at www.matthewfox.org.


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please let's have a discussion 29 Jun 2013
By Mary M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was excited to see these letters by Matthew Fox to Pope Francis.
Back in the 80s, Fox's book, Original Blessing, was a lifeline to me. I was troubled by my perception that non-Christian religions were affirming the Earth and the Universe and Christianity was not - but why should that be? Shouldn't Christianity affirm the earth and the universe? Shouldn't we be able to find God there? Should we have to go to another religion for that? It was a nun and campus minister who handed me a copy of Original Blessing - and what a relief and a joy that was.
Fox introduced me to an ancient Judeo-Christian tradition which is earth affirming, which honors and enjoys all that God has created. He showed me how to find this in the Bible and he introduced me to an extensive array of other writers.
After Original Blessing I proceeded to devour a number of other books by Matthew Fox.
As some years passed I began to wonder if Matthew Fox had wandered too far afield. I don't know the answer to that. Does my uneasy feeling about some of the things he says come about because Matthew Fox is farther ahead and knows more than me, or is it because he has just gone too far?
Anyway, I was very excited to see these letters to Pope Francis, and was determined to read them straight through. Sometimes I am taken aback and sometimes I say Amen, and sometimes I write several question marks, because I just don't know about all the things he says. But one thing I do know - the questions Matthew Fox raises in these letters are questions we all need to hear discussed. I almost said these are questions we all need answers to, but it strikes me that now in 2013 the world is beyond the stage of just having someone give answers to us on a platter. We are living in an age of discussion, and we need shepherds who will guide us in discussion. I think of John 21:15-17 when Jesus asks Peter to feed his sheep. I think now, in 2013, the food we need is from shepherds who will lead in discussion - open, intelligent discussion, in truth and in love. I think Jesus would be in that with us. It is my plea and my prayer that Pope Francis will help with this. And I think Matthew Fox is asking that too.
I encourage you to read these letters, and I hope Pope Francis will read these letters and respond.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, New Cause for Hope 16 July 2013
By Paul Chaffee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Pope Francis, with a warm heart and iconoclastic attitudes, has caught the attention of the world. Each day new stories emerge, and everyone (talking) seems to approve. A biography is out, along with plenty of pundit opinions. Now comes a set of heartfelt letters to Fr. Fox's "brother in Christ about the great challenges facing the church today, drawing from the deep spiritual and theological sources that have been suppressed since Vatican." The book urges Francis "to restore the sense of the faithful and reshape a church with justice and compassion." Matthew Fox has long been persona non grata at the Vatican. Could that change? This book makes you think it could. As an interfaith Protestant, what makes this book particularly satisfying is how, like Pope Francis himself, it is bringing hope and happiness to so many Catholic brothers and sisters who have been in despair about their Church for years.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great except ... 12 July 2013
By kwdayboise (Kim Day) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I tend to judge books by the amount of highlighting I do, and I kept the highlighter busy during the early chapters of this book.

I like and appreciate Fox, and own several of his books. He has a dedication to the mystical legacy of the Catholic church, which frequently seems forgotten or ignored. Fox is also an energetic rabble-rouser for change. So much so that he was given his walking papers by Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Benedict XVI. I like people who won't back down, and he has continued his energetic call for change from his new place in the Anglican church.

That said, I stopped marking up my copy a little over halfway through for a couple of reasons. Part of it is that Fox tends to adopt the hippie language of the 60's and 70's in groping for words to modernize mystical thought and theology. Isn't "universal Christ" as meaningful and less frought with counter-culture baggage than "Cosmic Christ"? Do we really need to speak of priests as "midwiving grace"? While Fox has traveled the world, his attempts to create a modernized language for these concepts seems tied to his northern California home and largely uncreative.

He also seems to draw from a fairly small bag of icons to quote from, mainly Aquinas, Hildegard von Bingen, and Meister Eckhart. There have been a wealth of reformers and mystical saints in the church. It seems claustrophobic to stick with the few Fox uses.

There is also a tedious chapter of fairly repetitive comments from a survey that could have been condensed and edited without any loss of impact.

Some of the suggestions for change in The Church are wonderful, some worth considering, and some are total eye-rollers, but it's a worthwhile excursion into alternatives to the George Weigel approach to "make more rules and kick out the discontented". It's also an excellent condensation of the problems that truly are driving many out of Catholicism.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and challenging book 11 July 2013
By Taylorman1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As always, Matthew Fox can be counted on to ask the uncomfortable questions that we may think, but not be able to articulate. His work has been about trying to redirect the church he loves toward a future that is less about a good marketing pitch and much more of the genuine article. Let's hope Pope Francis snuggles up tonight with this book and gives it a prayerful read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letters - Pope Francis and Matthew Fox 10 July 2013
By Mary E. Latela - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Matthew Fox draws on all that he and Francis share - the priesthood, commitment to justice and peace, background in religious orders - to write conversational letters to the Pope about a variety of subjects. Matthew is respectful AND also brutally honest. All who lead people on a spiritual path need to take care: to understand, to be open to everyone, to be willing to change, to be willing to do the hard work of making a just peace. It's an endearing book, and it's bittersweet, too, because in the best of all worlds, the two men would be sitting in a parlor, sipping tea or coffee and enjoying a long overdue dialog. I highly recommend this book to fans of Fox, to those who are concerned about what's happening in the Churches, and to everyone who wants to hear in plain English (or Italian) what the issues of the times are and what can be done to bring all peoples together.
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