Vatican reporter shares personal stories, insights at Monsignor Steele Lecture series

November 11, 2014

HOUSTON — John L. Allen Jr., associate editor of the Boston Globe and senior Vatican analyst for CNN, shared his personal stories and insights on Pope Francis during the annual Monsignor William D. Steele Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 30 at St. Mary’s Seminary. His talk was entitled, “Reflections on Pope Francis, the Synod and New Trends in the Church.”

Allen described Francis’ papacy as built around three pillars. First is the idea of leadership as a form of service. 

“What he wants is that when people look at symbols of authority in the Catholic Church — when they look at roman collars, when they look at pectoral crosses — he wants them to think instinctively, not in terms of power or privilege, but in terms of service.”

The second pillar Allen described is a missionary Church reaching out to those who are often forgotten or pushed aside, focusing on the individual and on social justice.

The final pillar Allen identifies is mercy. 

“I am profoundly convinced that everything Francis is doing... is predicated on the desire that, when the outside world looks at the Catholic Church, what they will see is a community of mercy. A community that doesn’t only pay lip-service to mercy, but actually practices it in terms of its eternal way.”

Allen also shared stories of his experiences of traveling with the Holy Father, including his recent trip to Korea and his 2013 trip to Brazil for World Youth Day.

A member of the Vatican press corps, Allen spent 16 years as a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, and is the author of seven best-selling books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs. 

His most recent book is “The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution.”

“My prediction is when the last word is written about this papacy, Pope Francis will be remembered as the Pope of mercy.”

The Monsignor William D. Steele Lecture began in 1986 to honor a great humanitarian, distinguished alumnus and faculty member of the seminary. Monsignor Steele attended St. Mary’s Seminary when it was located in La Porte, Texas, and was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston in 1956. 

He served the diocese in a number of locations and in varying capacities. In 1982, Monsignor Steele served on the formation faculty at St. Mary’s Seminary until his death in 1984. 

He also wrote a popular column for the Texas Catholic Herald for many years.