Spalding president speaks on compassion

Dr. Tori Murden McClure
Dr. Tori Murden McClure

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Dr. Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding University, was scheduled to speak on the Charter for Compassion in Rome today, March 31, at the European Apostolic Congress on Mercy.

The European congress is a regional component of the larger World Apostolic Congress on Mercy initiative, which seeks to “spread the message of mercy to the greatest number of people,” according to the congress’ website.

The European congress began today and will continue through April 4.

During an interview in her office last week, McClure, a Presbyterian, said preparing her presentation was a “wonderful opportunity to take a deep dive into the specifics of Catholic theology” and into the writings of Pope Francis.

Though McClure is not Catholic, she holds a master’s degree in divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where she studied theology and world religions.

McClure was asked to participate in the Congress because of her involvement with the Charter for Compassion, a global initiative that seeks to promote compassion. She serves as treasurer of the group’s board of directors.

Louisville was an early partner with the Charter for Compassion movement. Mayor Greg Fischer called for a city-wide campaign for compassion in 2011 and created the Partnership for Compassionate Louisville. Numerous schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville have been designated “Compassionate Schools” or “Compassionate Congregations.”

In a nod to Pope Francis, who sometimes delivers his homilies in three parts, McClure said she planned to divide her speech into three sections, telling her listeners at the Rome meeting:

  • Compassion is an antidote to fear and hatred;
  • Compassion is an antidote to competition and greed; and
  • Compassion requires no passport.

McClure said the first portion addresses compassion as it relates to individuals, while the second part will explore the notion of compassion between groups of people. In the final section, McClure said she planned to talk about how “compassion allows you to crisscross all sorts of borders, boundaries
and divisions.”

She noted that Pope Francis describes mercy as a gift from God. McClure said that as a lay person she doesn’t feel “qualified to dispense the medicine of mercy.”

“But I can, and we can, reflect mercy in the form of compassion, as the moonlight reflects the sunlight,” she said.

A person, regardless of their religious background, is capable of being compassionate, she added. Locally, she said, people can live compassion and reflect mercy through such efforts as Mayor Greg Fischer’s Give a Day service program (April 16 to 24) or something on a larger scale, she said.

The European congress will focus primarily on the reception of migrants and refugees and the ways they are integrated in European society, according to a Catholic News Service (CNS) story published on Jan. 19.

The CNS story also noted that the European congress will culminate with a Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy, which will be celebrated by Pope Francis on April 3.

The World Apostolic Congress on Mercy was first held in 2008 and happens every three years in cities around the world. Each gathering coincides with the feast of Divine Mercy in honor of St. John Paul II, who established the feast day in the year 2000 and regularly called Catholics to be “witnesses of mercy.”

The next worldwide congress will take place in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 16 to 20, 2017.

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