Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano Featured as Inaugural Bergoglio Lecture Series Speaker
|Bishop Caggiano speaks to a standing room-only crowd in the Schine Auditorium.|
On an evening that bucketed rain, hundreds of Sacred Heart University students, faculty and community friends found a warm haven in SHU’s Schine Auditorium, where they gathered to hear the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, bishop of the Bridgeport diocese, give the inaugural talk of the University’s Jorge Bergolio Lecture Series.
The lecture—“Pope Francis and the Social Gospel: Where Do We Go from Here?”—honored the pope’s spirit and vision. Presented by SHU’s Department of Catholic Studies, Office of Mission and Catholic Identity and the Diocese of Bridgeport, the program opened with an introduction by Father Anthony Ciorra, SHU’s vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity. He compared the bishop to the pope with regard to their common devotion to their word and ministry and to the life and new energies they bring to their positions.
Caggiano was installed as the fifth bishop of Bridgeport in 2013. A Brooklyn native, he became auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and titular bishop of Inis Cathaig, Ireland, in 2006.
In what Caggiano called “40 minutes of reflections,” he said Pope Francis, the 266th successor to St. Peter, is “cut from a different cloth,” gathering attention from the world and looking for renewal of our lives. Caggiano observed that the pope quickly became known as “the pope of mercy and passion, the pope of welcome.” As an example, Caggiano recalled that Francis, on his birthday, went out into Rome and invited less fortunate people to come to his private apartment to share his birthday cake. “He puts his money where his mouth is, to support the marginalized and homeless,” Caggiano observed.
He said the pope has asked Catholics to “look deep into the Catholic faith and live the social gospel–making real the teachings of Jesus through the world, witness and community life…to live charity and justice in concrete ways…to be truthful in faith.”
Caggiano reviewed the Seven Principles that aim to help Catholics navigate their lives: 1) Human dignity, meaning every human is made in God’s likeness and has a right to respect and a proper place in life; 2) Solidarity, noting that the individual is part of a larger group, and each member is dependent on one another; 3) Subsidiarity, suggesting that every community should have the right to make its own decisions, and that freedom is better ensured on a local level; 4) A call to family, community and participation, with family at the heart—when the family is in crisis, society is in crisis; the church is born in the home; 5) Preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, which gives the unfortunate a voice; 6) Dignity of work and workers, recognizing that there is something fundamental in humans to want to work and be creative; and 7) Basic responsibility to care for the world and live in peace with creation.
In an engaging manner, Caggiano, who shared that it was the eve of his 58th birthday, said the pope’s role is to give voice and diagnose the challenges of modern life and interpret them for the average person to understand. Among the issues the pope has been studying, he said, are indifference, which is causing our common bond to fall apart, and consumerism, wherein material things have come to possess people rather than the other way around.
Caggiano suggested the pope is reforming the Church to address modern issues and has created two new congregations to give the forgotten the highest voice. Francis, he said, also is calling on all Catholics to be missionary disciples, to live the Seven Principles–to go out with a clear purpose to get a task done, go out to those in need (whether it be material, social, emotional or spiritual) and to love each other, one person at a time.
“This is just the beginning of a dialogue and conversation,” Caggiano closed.