We all know Pope Francis has a way with words. Here are ten things Pope Francis said at World Youth Day.
The media of all kinds and all countries have tended to select quotes that fit the agenda in their own country. Everyone who heard (or read the texts) Pope Francis probably took away their own set of memories. A member of the Congregation of the Mission from Portugal shared 10 things that moved him. Here they are with links added to the full document. What would your favorite be?
Mary found the courage to say “yes”. She found the strength to give life to God’s dream. This is what is asked of us today: Do you want to make God’s dream take flesh with your hands, with your feet, with your gaze, with your heart? Do you want the Father’s love to open new horizons for you and bring you along paths never imagined or hoped for, dreamt or expected, making our hearts rejoice, sing and dance? Do we have the courage to say to the angel, as Mary did: “Behold the servants of the Lord; let it be done”? (Welcome Ceremony And Opening Of WYD, WYD 2019)
Dreaming of a future means learning how to answer not only the question what I am living for, but also who I am living for, the one who makes it worthwhile for me to offer my life.(Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
The world will be better when more people are willing and enthused enough to give birth to the future and believe in the transforming power of God’s love. (…) Do not be afraid to tell Jesus that you too want to be a part of his love story in this world, that you are ready for something greater! (Vigil With Young People, WYD 2019)
Your life today is today. Your taking risks is today. Your space is today. (…) You are the present. You are not the future of God, you young people are the now of God. (Mass for World Youth Day)
Let our limitations, our weaknesses and even our sins not hold us back and stop us from living the mission, because God invites us to do what we can and ask for what we cannot, in the knowledge that his love is taking hold of us and transforming us progressively. (Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
Now is the moment when you are sent forth:go out and tell, go out and bear witness, go out and spread the word about everything you have seen and heard. And don’t do this with lots of words but rather, as you did here, with simple and ordinary gestures, those that transform and renew all things. Gestures capable of creating a mess, a constructive mess, a loving mess.(Meeting With The WYD Volunteers, WYD 2019)
Any one of these texts stimulates much thought and prayer regardless of our age.
What would be your favorites or the ones that challenge you most?
In his weekly reflection on FamVin, Father Pat Griffin, of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, draws strength from Pope Francis, an octogenarian, addressing the weariness of hope.
On January 26th, at the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama, Pope Francis celebrated the Eucharist with priests, consecrated men and women, and members of lay movements. The Gospel of the day was that of Jesus and the Woman at the Well. The Pope sets a context:
The Gospel we have heard does not shrink from showing us Jesus, wearied from his journey. At midday, when the sun makes all its strength and power felt, we encounter him beside the well. He needed to relieve and quench his thirst, to refresh his steps, to recover his strength in order to continue his mission.
The words which the Holy Father spoke to those gathered on this day dealt with the weariness which can accompany the attempt and desire to be faithful to one’s vocation in a “changing and challenging world.” Many of us know that feeling.
I find it amazing that Pope Francis can so often find words to describe our world so astutely. I rejoice in his ability to open God’s word and to recognize the way in which it speaks to our time and experience. The “weariness of the journey” can capture the sense of so many of us who take up the responsibilities for our Church, communities, and families. Long hours, daily commitments, little problems, and stressful pressures challenge the resolve of hearts and bodies which strive to dedicate themselves faithfully to the Gospel. Yet, the Holy Father points beyond these drains on our energies to a “weariness of hope.”
This weariness is felt when – as in the Gospel – the sun beats down mercilessly and with such intensity that it becomes impossible to keep walking or even to look ahead. . . It is a weariness that paralyzes. It comes from looking ahead and not knowing how to react to the intense and confusing changes that we as a society are experiencing. . . . (these changes) call into doubt the very viability of religious life in today’s world. . . . What was meaningful and important in the past can now no longer seem valid.
This weariness of hope can lead to a certain pragmatism, to a sense that the Gospel has nothing to say to the world of our time.
In his weariness from the journey, the Lord says to the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink.” He invites us to say these same words with which he invites her to seek the living water. Francis encourages us to allow our wearied hope “to return without fear to the deep well of our first love,” “to be purified and to recapture the most authentic part of our founding charisms,” to recognize that “we need the Spirit to make us men and women mindful of a passage, the salvific passage of God.”
I read with gratitude the words of our Pope who has his fingers on the pulse of our Church and who hears in the Gospel the continued summons to hope and ministry. As Vincentians, that summons takes on a particular form and focus. As we drink profoundly at the well of the Lord, we hope to slake our thirst during our daily and lifelong journey.
We are coming to a time in the church calendar known as “ordinary time”. What does ordinary mean? In the language of the liturgy, ordinary simply means that the Sundays will be numbered rather than named for celebrating special feasts.
However, it is as a good time as any to think about the ordinary saints in our lives and what ordinary holiness means in the context of our lives. In his letter “Rejoice and be Glad’ Pope Francis speaks of holiness in a way that followers of Vincent and Louise can relate to. Here are six insights that struck me…
My modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time…
The Saints next door
I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”…
These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord…
The important thing is that each believer discerns his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them.
For you too
This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step…
Let us not forget that Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details.
The little detail that wine was running out at a party.
The little detail that one sheep was missing.
The little detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins.
The little detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay.
The little detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had.
The little detail of having a fire burning and a fish cooking as he waited for the disciples at daybreak.
The Great Criterion
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (vv. 31-46), Jesus expands on the Beatitude that calls the merciful blessed. If we seek the holiness pleasing to God’s eyes, this text offers us one clear criterion on which we will be judged. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (vv. 35-36).
We are all called recognize, celebrate and be “ordinary saints”, “Saints next door”.
We hear a lot about the politics of anger, resentment, fear. The common element to these concepts of politics is not the common good but my good. We hear very little of a politics rooted in “ the common good.”
So for me, it is refreshing that Pope Francis’ Message for World Day of Peace chose to focus on “Good Politics and the Service of People.” He makes what, in today’s climate, unfortunately, might seem a contradictory statement when he says “One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace.”
He reaffirms that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.
How does Pope Francis understand peace?
In his own words…
“Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:
peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;
peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;
peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.
Conversion happens at three levels, he said: making peace with oneself by rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; with others, including one’s family, friends and the poor; and with all of creation, recognizing a shared responsibility to protect the world and to be “citizens and builders of the future.”
… peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity.”
… peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.”
An examination of conscience and program of action for Vincentians
Is it too far-fetched to think these beatitudes apply to every follower of Vincent and Louise? Read the following adaptation as an examination of conscience for the past year and grounds for commitments in the New Year…
Blessed be the Vincentian with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
Blessed be the Vincentian who personally exemplifies credibility.
Blessed be the Vincentian who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
Blessed be the Vincentian who remains consistent.
Blessed be the Vincentian who works for unity.
Blessed be the Vincentian who works to accomplish radical change.
Blessed be the Vincentian who is capable of listening.
Blessed be the Vincentian who is without fear.
Pope Francis’ Christmas message is all about a child who came to tell us that “God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters”, Without Jesus’ gift of fraternity, what we do to build a more just world would be “soulless and empty”, he said. “For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity”.
Pope Francis said he wishes for fraternity among individuals, regardless of nation, culture, ideology, or religion. Jesus revealed “God’s face” through a “human face”. The variety and differences we experience “are a source of richness”, the Pope said, like the variety of coloured tiles in the hands of a mosaic artist. God, who is our “parent”, binds us together and is the “foundation and strength of our fraternity”.
The Vatican website summarised his specific wishes for various trouble spots in the world…
For the Israelies and Palestinians, the Pope wishes resumption of the dialogue and path to peace to end the 70-year conflict rending “the land chosen by the Lord to show his face of love”.
For Syrians he wishes that they can “find fraternity after long years of war” and that through international cooperation those who have fled may return home.
For Yemen, the hope that the truce will hold and bring relief to her people and children “exhausted by war and famine”.
For Africa, that the “Holy Child, the King of Peace” might “silence the clash of arms” allowing a “new dawn of fraternity to rise over the entire continent”.
For the Korean peninsula he prayed for the consolidation of the “bonds of fraternity” set in motion this year.
For Venezuelans the Pope hopes they might “recover social harmony” so as to “work fraternally” toward the country’s development.
For Ukrainians, he hopes “the Newborn Lord” might “bring relief” and “a lasting peace” which is possible only through respect for the “rights of every nation”.
For Nicaraguans he prayed that they might “see themselves once more as brothers and sisters” through reconciliation and building Nicaragua’s future together.
Pope Francis also mentioned those whose “freedom and identity” are compromised through modern forms of colonialization, those suffering from hunger, lack of education and health care.
For those celebrating Christmas in hostile situations, Pope Francis prayed that all minorities might live peacefully through respect for the right of religious freedom.
In conclusion, Pope Francis prayed that the Child in the manger might “watch over all the children of the world, and every frail, vulnerable and discarded person”. He hopes that all might receive “peace and consolation” as through “the birth of the Saviour” we know that “we are loved by the one heavenly Father”, that we might realize “that we are brothers and sistersand come to live as such”.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
THE MASS IN THE HOLY NIGHT
SAINT PETER’S BASILICA
24 DECEMBER 2018
Joseph with Mary his spouse, went up “to the city of David called Bethlehem” (Lk 2:4). Tonight, we too, go to Bethlehem, there to discover the mystery of Christmas.
Bethlehem: the name means house of bread. In this “house”, the Lord today wants to encounter all mankind. He knows that we need food to live. Yet he also knows that the nourishments of this world do not satisfy the heart. In Scripture, the original sin of humanity is associated precisely with taking food: our first parents “took of the fruit and ate”, says the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:6). They took and ate. Mankind became greedy and voracious. In our day, for many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects. An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive.
Bethlehem is the turning point that alters the course of history. There God, in the house of bread, is born in a manger. It is as if he wanted to say: “Here I am, as your food”. He does not take, but gives us to eat; he does not give us a mere thing, but his very self. In Bethlehem, we discover that God does not take life, but gives it. To us, who from birth are used to taking and eating, Jesus begins to say: “Take and eat. This is my body” (Mt 26:26). The tiny body of the Child of Bethlehem speaks to us of a new way to live our lives: not by devouring and hoarding, but by sharing and giving. God makes himself small so that he can be our food. By feeding on him, the bread of life, we can be reborn in love, and break the spiral of grasping and greed. From the “house of bread”, Jesus brings us back home, so that we can become God’s family, brothers and sisters to our neighbours. Standing before the manger, we understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity.
The Lord knows that we need to be fed daily. That is why he offered himself to us every day of his life: from the manger in Bethlehem to the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Today too, on the altar, he becomes bread broken for us; he knocks at our door, to enter and eat with us (cf. Rev 3:20). At Christmas, we on earth receive Jesus, the bread from heaven. It is a bread that never grows stale, but enables us even now to have a foretaste of eternal life.
In Bethlehem, we discover that the life of God can enter into our hearts and dwell there. If we welcome that gift, history changes, starting with each of us. For once Jesus dwells in our heart, the centre of life is no longer my ravenous and selfish ego, but the One who is born and lives for love. Tonight, as we hear the summons to go up to Bethlehem, the house of bread, let us ask ourselves: What is the bread of my life, what is it that I cannot do without? Is it the Lord, or something else? Then, as we enter the stable, sensing in the tender poverty of the newborn Child a new fragrance of life, the odour of simplicity, let us ask ourselves: Do I really need all these material objects and complicated recipes for living? Can I manage without all these unnecessary extras and live a life of greater simplicity? In Bethlehem, beside where Jesus lay, we see people who themselves had made a journey: Mary, Joseph and the shepherds. Jesus is bread for the journey. He does not like long, drawn-out meals, but bids us rise quickly from table in order to serve, like bread broken for others. Let us ask ourselves: At Christmas do I break my bread with those who have none?
After Bethlehem as the house of bread, let us reflect on Bethlehem as the city of David. There the young David was a shepherd, and as such was chosen by God to be the shepherd and leader of his people. At Christmas, in the city of David, it was the shepherds who welcomed Jesus into the world. On that night, the Gospel tells us, “they were filled with fear” (Lk 2:9), but the angel said to them “Be not be afraid” (v. 10). How many times do we hear this phrase in the Gospels: “Be not afraid”? It seems that God is constantly repeating it as he seeks us out. Because we, from the beginning, because of our sin, have been afraid of God; after sinning, Adam says: “I was afraid and so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Bethlehem is the remedy for this fear, because despite man’s repeated “no”, God constantly says “yes”. He will always be God-with-us. And lest his presence inspire fear, he makes himself a tender Child. Be not afraid: these words were not spoken to saints but to shepherds, simple people who in those days were certainly not known for their refined manners and piety. The Son of David was born among shepherds in order to tell us that never again will anyone be alone and abandoned; we have a Shepherd who conquers our every fear and loves us all, without exception.
The shepherds of Bethlehem also tell us how to go forth to meet the Lord. They were keeping watch by night: they were not sleeping, but doing what Jesus often asks all of us to do, namely, be watchful (cf. Mt 25:13; Mk 13:35; Lk 21:36). They remain alert and attentive in the darkness; and God’s light then “shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is also the case for us. Our life can be marked by waiting, which amid the gloom of our problems hopes in the Lord and yearns for his coming; then we will receive his life. Or our life can be marked by wanting, where all that matters are our own strengths and abilities; our heart then remains barred to God’s light. The Lord loves to be awaited, and we cannot await him lying on a couch, sleeping. So the shepherds immediately set out: we are told that they “went with haste” (v. 16). They do not just stand there like those who think they have already arrived and need do nothing more. Instead they set out; they leave their flocks unguarded; they take a risk for God. And after seeing Jesus, although they were not men of fine words, they go off to proclaim his birth, so that “all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds told them” (v. 18).
To keep watch, to set out, to risk, to recount the beauty: all these are acts of love. The Good Shepherd, who at Christmas comes to give his life to the sheep, will later, at Easter, ask Peter and, through him all of us, the ultimate question: “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15). The future of the flock will depend on how that question is answered. Tonight we too are asked to respond to Jesus with the words: “I love you”. The answer given by each is essential for the whole flock.
“Let us go now to Bethlehem” (Lk 2:15). With these words, the shepherds set out. We too, Lord, want to go up to Bethlehem. Today too, the road is uphill: the heights of our selfishness need to be surmounted, and we must not lose our footing or slide into worldliness and consumerism.
I want to come to Bethlehem, Lord, because there you await me. I want to realize that you, lying in a manger, are the bread of my life. I need the tender fragrance of your love so that I, in turn, can be bread broken for the world. Take me upon your shoulders, Good Shepherd; loved by you, I will be able to love my brothers and sisters and to take them by the hand. Then it will be Christmas, when I can say to you: “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you” (cf. Jn 21:17).
Almost every homilist has the experience of saying “Wow, I wish I had preached that homily. It said so much!” I know how often I experience that when I read Pope Francis’ homilies. I wish I knew Spanish to catch the full flavor.
There has been a lot of digital ink spilled about the recent Synod for Youth. Many ask what really happened? The answers given by those who were there and those who followed from afar are frequently different. Often the answers reveal more about those who answer the question than what happened at the Synod.
Putting those two thoughts together I started out by trying to condense how Pope Francis explains the Synod. It is a moving, insightful and authoritative homily at the closing of the nearly month-long Synod. I quickly realized it was too gripping to condense. So what I present here is the full text with some of the thoughts that really hit me between the eyes marked in bold text. Perhaps you too will never read the story of Bartimaeus without being challenged by it.
Pope Francis explains the Synod with the story of blind Bartimaeus
The account we have just heard is the last of those that the evangelist Mark relates about the itinerant ministry of Jesus, who is about to enter Jerusalem to die and to rise. Bartimaeus is thus the last of those who follow Jesus along the way: from a beggar along the road to Jericho, he becomes a disciple who walks alongside the others on the way to Jerusalem. We too have walked alongside one another; we have been a “synod”. This Gospel seals three fundamental steps on the journey of faith.
First, let us consider Bartimaeus. His name means “son of Timaeus”. That is how the Gospel describes him: “Bartimaeus son of Timaeus” (Mk 10:46). Yet, oddly, his father is nowhere to be found. Bartimaeus lies alone on the roadside, far from home and fatherless. He is not loved, but abandoned. He is blind and has no one to listen to him. Jesus hears his plea. When he goes to him, he lets him speak. It was not hard to guess what Bartimaeus wanted: clearly, a blind person wants to see or regain his sight. But Jesus takes his time; he takes time to listen. This is the first step in helping the journey of faith: listening. It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.
Instead, many of those with Jesus ordered Bartimaeus to be quiet (cf. v. 48). For such disciples, a person in need was a nuisance along the way, unexpected and unplanned. They preferred their own timetable above that of the Master, their own talking over listening to others. They were following Jesus, but they had their own plans in mind. This is a risk constantly to guard against. Yet, for Jesus, the cry of those pleading for help is not a nuisance but a challenge.
How important it is for us to listen to life! The children of the heavenly Father are concerned with their brothers and sisters, not with useless chatter, but with the needs of their neighbors. They listen patiently and lovingly, just as God does to us and to our prayers, however repetitive they may be. God never grows tired; he is always happy when we seek him. May we too ask for the grace of a heart that listens. I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you, if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears. As Christ’s Church, we want to listen to you with love, certain of two things: that your lives are precious in God’s eyes, because God is young and loves young people, and that your lives are precious in our eyes too, and indeed necessary for moving forward.
After listening, a second step on the journey of faith is to be a neighbor. Let us look at Jesus: he does not delegate someone from the “large crowd” following him, but goes personally to meet Bartimaeus. He asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 51). What do you want… –
Jesus is completely taken up with Bartimaeus; he does not try to sidestep him. …me to do – not simply to speak, but to do something. …for you – not according to my own preconceived ideas, but for you, in your particular situation. That is how God operates. He gets personally involved with preferential love for every person. By his actions, he already communicates his message. Faith thus flowers in life.
Faith passes through life. When faith is concerned purely with doctrinal formulae, it risks speaking only to the head without touching the heart. And when it is concerned with activity alone, it risks turning into mere moralizing and social work. Faith, instead, is life: it is living in the love of God who has changed our lives. We cannot choose between doctrine and activism. We are called to carry out God’s work in God’s own way: in closeness, by cleaving to him, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters. Closeness: that is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith, and not a secondary aspect.
Being a neighbor means bringing the newness of God into the lives of our brothers and sisters. It serves as an antidote to the temptation of easy answers and fast fixes. Let us ask ourselves whether, as Christians, we are capable of becoming neighbors, stepping out of our circles and embracing those who are not “one of us”, those whom God ardently seeks.
A temptation so often found in the Scriptures will always be there: the temptation to wash our hands.
That is what the crowd does in today’s Gospel.
It is what Cain did with Abel, and
Pilate with Jesus: they washed their hands.
But we want to imitate Jesus and, like him, to dirty our hands. He is the way (cf. Jn 14:6), who stopped on the road for Bartimaeus. He is the light of the world (cf. Jn 9:5), who bent down to help a blind man. Let us realize that the Lord has dirtied his hands for each one of us. Let us look at the cross, start from there and remember that God became my neighbor in sin and death. He became my neighbor: it all starts from there. And when, out of love of him, we too become neighbors, we become bringers of new life. Not teachers of everyone, not specialists in the sacred, but witnesses of the love that saves.
The third step is to bear witness. Let us consider the disciples who, at Jesus’ request, called out to Bartimaeus. They do not approach a beggar with a coin to shut him up, or to dispense advice. They go in Jesus’ name. Indeed, they only say three words to him, and all three are words of Jesus: “Take heart; get up, he is calling you” (v. 49).
Everywhere else in the Gospel, Jesus alone says, “Take heart”, for he alone “heartens” those who heed him. In the Gospel, Jesus alone says, “Get up”, and heals in spirit and body. Jesus alone calls, transforming the lives of those who follow him, helping raise up the fallen, bringing God’s light to the darkness of life. So many children, so many young people, like Bartimaeus, are looking for light in their lives. They are looking for true love. And like Bartimaeus who in the midst of that large crowd called out to Jesus alone, they too seek life, but often find only empty promises and few people who really care.
It is not Christian to expect that our brothers and sisters who are seekers should have to knock on our doors; we ought to go out to them, bringing not ourselves but Jesus. He sends us, like those disciples, to encourage others and to raise them up in his name. He sends us forth to say to each person: “God is asking you to let yourself be loved by him”. How often, instead of this liberating message of salvation, have we brought ourselves, our own “recipes” and “labels” into the Church! How often, instead of making the Lord’s words our own, have we peddled our own ideas as his word! How often do people feel the weight of our institutions more than the friendly presence of Jesus! In these cases, we act more like an NGO, a state-controlled agency, and not the community of the saved who dwell in the joy of the Lord.
To listen, to be a neighbor, to bear witness. The journey of faith in today’s Gospel ends in a beautiful and surprising way when Jesus says “Go; your faith has made you well” (v. 52). Yet Bartimaeus had made no profession of faith or done any good work; he had only begged for mercy. To feel oneself in need of salvation is the beginning of faith. It is the direct path to encountering Jesus. The faith that saved Bartimaeus did not have to do with his having clear ideas about God, but in his seeking him and longing to encounter him. Faith has to do with encounter, not theory. In encounter, Jesus passes by; in encounter, the heart of the Church beats. Then, not our preaching, but our witness of life will prove effective.
To all of you who have taken part in this “journey together”, I say “thank you” for your witness. We have worked in communion, with frankness and the desire to serve God’s people. May the Lord bless our steps, so that we can listen to young people, be their neighbors, and bear witness before them to Jesus, the joy of our lives.
Here, in his own words spoken to Jesuits, is what the Pope understands about the causes of the abuse and coverup…
“There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal — think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States — has behind it a church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,
”The root of the problem, he said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes foster “every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience.”
“And what do I mean by put an end to it? I don’t mean simply turn the page, but seek out a cure, reparation, all that is necessary to heal the wounds and give life back to so many people.”
“This is a special mission for you: clean this up, change consciences, do not be afraid to call things by their name,”
One of the Jesuits asked the pope for concrete examples of what they should be doing.
“We have to denounce the cases we know about,” the pope responded. “And sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience as I said before. The abuse of power exists. Who among us does not know an authoritarian bishop? Forever in the church there have been authoritarian bishops and religious superiors. And authoritarianism is clericalism.”
“It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.”