Words of Wisdom From U.S. Catholic Leaders

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, Archdiocese of Atlanta

Archbishop Hartmayer, OFM, Conv.
Archbishop Hartmayer, OFM, Conv.

Cross Catholic Outreach recently interviewed two more bishops in our interview series on Catholic social teaching. In October, we spent time with Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM, Conv., in his office for a robust discussion about Franciscan spirituality as it relates to the poor, belief in the real presence of the Eucharist and our Box of Joy® ministry.

As a Franciscan, can you talk about the example of St. Francis in loving and serving the poor?

St. Francis is known — universally known — as “the little poor man.” His image and legacy is with the poor. After being instructed to rebuild the Church, his mindset and mission was to gather brothers to live out the Gospel by serving the poor. That has been his legacy for over 800 years. The Franciscan spirit that Francis introduced into the Church in the 12th century continues.

How can our Box of Joy ministry help parish families increase their awareness of global poverty?

Children aren’t receiving gifts; they are giving gifts for a change, and that’s a new experience for them to be taught generosity — recognizing there are children like themselves that live very differently, and we should not forget them. To involve the children in giving gifts to other children is a wonderful teaching experience.

Bishop Kevin Vann, Diocese of Orange

Bishop Vann.
Bishop Vann.

In November, we traveled to the Diocese of Orange to speak with Bishop Kevin Vann, a former Cross Catholic Outreach board member, who was instrumental in our application to the Vatican in 2015 to receive canonical status within the Church.

The Catechism says the Eucharist commits us to the poor; to receive the body and blood of Christ, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren.

Pope John Paul II would have been part of the formation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has become our standard for life in faith. By receiving the body and blood of Christ, then, we have to be aware of Christ in the poor.

Solidarity with the poor is in the Gospel and the Catechism. How do we make sure it’s in our hearts?

I think we have to make sure it’s in our hearts by being aware of the Church’s mission to the poor and all the opportunities we are given to help the poor.

Pope Francis wrote we should be “encountering the poor.” What does it mean to truly encounter the poor?

Well, I think encountering the poor has had a long history in the life of the church. It means that it’s just not a theory on paper, but it means we have to encounter the poor by knowing them as a real person and see Christ in them.

Watch the full interviews at CrossCatholic.org/interviews.

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