As the former president of the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, Associate Professor Tiziana Dearing has a profound knowledge of the inner workings and missions of the Church. This role, in addition to other executive positions such as founder and CEO of the anti-poverty start-up Boston Rising, has also helped to shape her exceptional understanding of poverty in America.
It’s no surprise, then, that Dearing was a much sought after voice in the media during Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States. Over the course of about a week’s time, Dearing appeared on national television news and radio, the nation’s major newspapers, and across various online outlets. Dearing offered her unique perspective as a female Catholic leader speaking expertly on the Pope’s messages and work, particularly with regards to poverty, inequality, and Catholic Social Teaching. Here’s a recap of a few of those many appearances.
Dearing was a September 22 guest on The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart, where she appeared in conversation with famed Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson.
“Here in the United States, I think that it’s fantastic that he’s speaking in both English and in Spanish,” she said, in response to a question on how the pope delivered his messages during his time in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. “One of the things that this pope is, is somebody who bridges… He’s inviting a large group of people into the values of the Catholic Church, whether they’re Catholic or not, and… I love it that he is calling a global attention to poverty and marginalization.”
In an article published on September 23, Dearing told Boston Globe religion reporter Lisa Wangsness that, “There is a real opportunity for the Catholic Church here in America to reclaim a level of moral authority that’s been lost in the popular mind over the last 10 to 15 years.” The pope, she said, might not see his mission here in quite those terms, but the opportunity exists all the same.
That same day, Dearing appeared on NPR affiliate WBUR’s flagship program, Radio Boston for a conversation entitled “Catholics Coming Home: Pope Francis and the Changing Role of the Pope.” Dearing was joined by renowned author James Carroll.
“When you do in fact speak truth to power… somebody is going to be uncomfortable,” she explained, in response to a question about pushback to some of the Pope’s remarks from political conservatives. “And I expect that people [representing any place on the political continuum] are going to find themselves uncomfortable with something he has to say. And that’s the process of change, that’s the process of holding things up to the light that we’d rather not hold up to the light.”
In her recurring column for the Huffington Post, Dearing reflected on Pope Francis’ address to the U.S. Congress, and on one phrase in particular: “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.”
“The Pope has said a great deal since he arrived in the U.S.,” she wrote. “Still, in this one, simple sentence before Congress, he brought together concepts of love, solidarity, right relationships, human dignity and even a ‘preferential option for the poor.’ These concepts are fundamental to Catholic Social Teaching, and offer a map for addressing challenges today that is useful for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”
On September 22, Dearing was asked by NECN to reflect on the question, “Is America Ready for the Pope’s Visit?”
Dearing’s answer, in short? Yes, absolutely: “[The pope] is offering a message that appeals to a broad swath of humanity… he’s a public figure who is speaking to everyone, not just an interest group, not just his religion, not just people in his political sphere, but everyone. And people want to be invited into that kind of message.”