Pope Francis and the "Intervention".
Why does Pope Francis do what he does?
" That's a question frequently on the minds of many people, both Catholic and otherwise. The answers to that question vary greatly between those who agree with his actions, those who feel that those actions may be contrary to some teachings of the Church, and even those who don't believe that he is anything besides the leader of a billion Catholics.
But it is a question worth considering, and a possible answer may have surfaced before he even became Pope. In the days leading up to a conclave, the cardinals of the Church gather in a series of meetings known as “general congregations.” In these meetings, they are allowed to make brief statements — called
— about the problems they feel need to be addressed in the Church and what kind of man the next pope should be.
Before the conclave in 2013, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio gave an intervention, which outlined his views on the then-prevailing directions of the Church. Barely four minutes long, it got the attention of his brother cardinals. Their response to this speech may well have been what pointed him to the papacy and becoming Pope Francis. Here is the full text of his speech:
Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.
When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. (cf. The deformed woman of the Gospel in
). The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks (
). Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.
When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light; she ceases to be the
[Latin, “mystery of the moon,” i.e., reflecting the light of Christ the way the moon reflects the light of the sun] and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness (which according to de Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church). It lives to give glory only to one another. Put simply, there are two images of the Church: Church which evangelizes and comes out of herself, the
Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidente proclamans
[Latin, “Hearing the word of God with reverence and proclaiming it with faith”]; and the worldly Church, living within herself, of herself, for herself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms which must be done for the salvation of souls.
In his speech, the future Pope Francis compared an inwardly-turned Church to the woman that Jesus heals in the Gospel of Luke, who had been crippled by a spirit and been unable to stand up straight for eighteen years. In the same way, he suggested, if the Church has a self-referential spirit, it interferes with its ability to carry out its mission. It provides a valuable look at the thinking of Pope Francis on the eve of the conclave and what likely became the blueprint for his papacy. In both his words (several terms used in the intervention have appeared again many times in his talks as Pope) and his actions he is seeking to have the Church become more outwardly-focused, shaking up many factors that for years were satisfied in keeping a status quo. It will be quite interesting to see where this blueprint leads the Church on Earth as we enter AD 2018.
A BLESSED AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
Movie (0:45) -
Who is Pope Francis?
This outstanding new documentary film just produced in Europe gives an excellent overview into the life, thought, and work of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, formerly Archbishop of Buenos Aires and now Pope Francis. It contains previously unreleased recordings and endearing images of Cardinal Bergoglio. His words and actions convey the unique charisma of this surprise Argentine Pope whose humility, kindness and courage are winning countless admirers to a renewed interest in the Papacy. The film includes comments on the new Pope by the Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina and Spain, and from a Spanish bishop on the spiritual exercises preached by Cardinal Bergoglio to the Bishops. The film also shows many inspiring images of the papal conclave, and the most emotional details of the first appearances of Pope Francis, sprinkled with humor and warm emotion.
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Fr. Ed Blanchett
on Friday, December 29, 2017 at 3:00PM