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Judith resonated with this:
Leaders of the Church have often been Narcissus, flattered and sickeningly excited by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.
Link to interview, 1 October 2013
by Chris McDonnell
(Reproduced with the author's permission from The Catholic Times, 29 September 2017)
Early in his ministry as Bishop of Rome, Francis put the principle of a Church of the Poor at the forefront of his teaching. A Church that is poor, speaking to those who are poor. It was-and is-a clear statement of intent that he has not wavered from. Indeed, his very name, taken at the consistory that elected him indicated his chosen path. His subsequent personal actions reinforced that perspective, a simple taste in vestments, a car that was certainly not ‘top of the range’ and living arrangements that rejected the allocated papal apartments. All in all, a man who tries to lead by example, to say it 'as it is'.
What does this mean for the Church in the world and what does it mean in particular for the Vatican? In its two thousand years, the Church has been ‘European looking outward’, preaching a Christ that reflects our values and prejudices, offering a particular view of Church that ignored the necessary inculturation with peoples in other places. When it was attempted those in authority were often none too pleased. Sometimes sanctions were imposed.
Yet beyond our European shores there was a richness that was being neglected. To talk of a Church of the Poor now is to talk of the vast majority of Christians who live in the Third World.
There is a challenge that faces us in the West, a challenge that our rich world has yet to come to terms with. Society has come to accept a ‘cult of money’ as the parameter of success. We want more, the newest, the biggest and best.
Fashions change so last year’s ‘must haves’ get discarded and the Charity shops abound with goods for a cheap quick sale. That their profit goes to a good cause is not in question for without the necessary income they could not help those in need. But is a symptom of our cultural excess.
by Joseph Mattam SJ
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first South American, became Pope on 13 March 2013. From the very beginning he gave the impression of being a different type of pope. His most outstanding trait is his love for the poor. He feels at home in the company of the poor; he takes a personal interest in them; he is convinced that the poor must be the centre of our attention, of our love. At the end of his visit to Lesbos he took a number of Muslim Syrian refugees under his protection. It is also reported that often he invites poor people to join him when he has his meals at the hostel where he lives. He keeps reminding us that we need to build more bridges and not walls as suggested by President Trump.
Along with this love for the poor goes his very special care of refugees. He encourages all countries to welcome them and opposes those who close their borders to refugees. He cares especially for the children of migrants and refugees as they are the most vulnerable, with no possibility of an education, and at risk of being sexually exploited. He never misses an opportunity to come to the help of migrants, the poor, prisoners, the disabled and all those the world considers as unworthy of our attention and love. To see him interacting with the poorest of the poor is a wonderful example of the living gospel in our times.
Another important thrust we find in this Pope is his love for nature and its protection. Laudato si brings new elements to the social doctrine of the Church, emphasizing the link between nature and creation. The impact of this encyclical is immeasurable and immense. It brings to light uncomfortable and universal truths like our rampant anthropocentrism and the greed of the free market economic system. Concern for nature is a moral issue and humans cannot afford to ignore it. In this encyclical he calls for an “ecological conversion”; he reminds us that nature is a book through which God reveals self and speaks to us. That is why he appeals to us to protect our environment and support international efforts to save our planet. This encyclical helps us to turn away from resignation and despair and instead choose commitment to the preservation of nature and creation.
by Clyde Christofferson
Pope Francis is opening wide church doors, like John XXIII before him. And he is not shy about facing difficult challenges. Early in his pontificate he asked his bishops to assemble to address some of the most neuralgic issues facing the Church, concerning marriage and the family. After two Synods on the Family Francis issued Amoris Laetitia, an exhortation that has focused attention on the very controversies with which the bishops struggled.
What has happened to Jesus Christ? The Jews of his time followed the law, and Jesus called them to the reign of God. How can it be that the Church that follows Jesus continues to be so focused on the law that it has lost sight of the reign of God?
The beauty of Amoris Laetitia is that Pope Francis is trying to move the institutional Church beyond the law to the reign of God, as Jesus taught (Mark 1:15). It sounds obvious to put it this way, but following Jesus means following Jesus, not becoming preoccupied with the law.
Jesus was and is a different kind of leader. He has a quality of leadership that leads us to him because we want to not because we have to. It is sometimes very hard to follow -- "give what you have to the poor and come with me" -- but Christ's very presence makes difficult self-sacrifices works of joy. They sometimes call this "command presence". Outstanding leaders would much rather have command presence than the authority of their position.
Should not the Church seek to emulate Jesus and seek governance by "command presence" rather than by the authority of the law? Most pastors and bishops I know do exactly that. It is personal, and not afraid of the messiness of life. When leaders must rely upon the authority of the law, this is a sign of failure as a leader. In some circumstances use of authority becomes necessary, but a good leader knows it must be the exception rather than the rule.
We call the Magisterium the "teaching authority". This is a mistake, as good pastors and bishops know. We should say "teachers" who learn to lead like Jesus, through their very presence. Francis -- and I love him for it -- is doing just that. What he says in Amoris Laetitia is carefully and gently designed to help pastors follow the leadership of Jesus in dealing with important areas of life -- marriage and the family -- that have become so encrusted with authority that the Church is losing its ability to give life.
We need to hear ourselves repeat and to remind one other of the angels’ admonition! This admonition: “Why do you seek the living among the dead” helps us leave behind our empty sadness and opens us to the horizons of joy and hope. That hope which rolls back the stones from tombs and encourages one to proclaim the Good News, capable of generating new life for others. Let us repeat the Angels’ phrase in order to keep it in our hearts and in our memory, and then let everyone respond in silence: “Why do you seek the living among the dead”. Let’s repeat it! [He repeats it with the crowd]. Behold, brothers and sisters, He is alive, He is with us! Do not go to the many tombs that today promise you something, beauty, and then give you nothing! He is alive! Let us not not seek the living among the dead!