March 13 marks the 10th anniversary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election as Pope Francis. During the past decade Catholics have brought divisions from political arena into the pews. They are divided over cultural issues, including LGBTQ inclusion, abortion, divorce, and climate change. Join a panel of world-renowned journalists to learn how to begin healing the fractured church on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the Featherston Life Sciences Building Auditorium.

The panel includes: Joe Ferullo, CEO and publisher of National Catholic Reporter; Christopher White, Vatican correspondent for NCR; Michael Sean Winters, author of Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost the Catholics and How Catholics Can Save the Democrats; Nancy Pineda-Madrid, chair of Catholic Theology, LMU and vice president of the Catholic Theological Society of America; and Gabrielle Poma, M.A. ’24, pastoral theology.

LMU This Week sat down with the moderator of this event, Carol Costello, special advisor, journalism instructor, and former CNN anchor, to discuss this panel.

LMUTW: Why are we hosting the National Catholic Reporter event at LMU?

Carol Costello: We were approached by the National Catholic Reporter. They are very interested in working with universities like LMU because we are Jesuit and Marymount, and we have a social justice message. It’s very much along the lines of their own reporting. The NCR strives to write articles about the same sorts of things that we are concerned about as a Jesuit and Marymount institution. Why are young people leaving the Church? How can we bring them back? The Church is so split along political lines. Will it remain that way forever? How can we heal that divide? The NCR is very interested in focusing on stories about these topics. They are interested in mining our resources, quite frankly, because we have the best Jesuit minds in the world. So, why not work with LMU to try to solve some of these problems, or at least to gather information to write about it from our panel.

LMUTW: Why do you think the Catholic Church is divided? How did we get to this point?

CC: We are going to talk a lot about that at the event. But I think what exacerbated it is our politics. There are Trump Republicans who are Catholic, and there are more progressive Catholics who go along the lines of Joe Biden, or even further to the left. These divisions within the Church are as entrenched as they are in the political world. That makes me unbelievably sad because politics shouldn’t play a part in our religion. But, today it certainly does.

I’ve heard from so many Catholics who have just given up on healing the division in the Church because they say it’s pointless. The conservative Catholics focus on one set of issues. The progressive Catholics focus on another set of issues, and they just don’t want to meet in the middle. It’s harming our faith and it’s harming our Church. Our young people want to find a safe place to go in the Church, because I don’t think they feel safe anymore. Some feel they are constantly judged for the way they choose to invite people in instead of leave certain people out.

LMUTW: It sounds as if conservative and progressive Catholics are polarized. Yet, the Catholic faith teaches people to listen and have compassionate hearts.

CC: I mean, that’s the central question. What is the definition of a compassionate heart today? What is it? Is it allowing, for example, gay people into the Catholic faith, so that they can at least have a safe place to go to worship? Or is it keeping them out? Because that’s a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church. What is a compassionate heart?

The weirdest thing that is happening now in the Catholic Church is the bishops versus the pope. We would have never heard that when we were growing up. We listened to the pope, he was the leader of our faith, our Church, and he still is. But he’s getting harsh criticism from within and it’s disturbing, because when that happens, who do Catholics believe their leader is? It’s really confusing, and I think that that is even more confusing for young people….

Full story at LMU Newsroom.