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» 03/19/2013
VATICAN
Like Benedict, mission is Pope Francis's focus
by Bernardo Cervellera
During a sober ceremony, wearing simple vestments, the pope shows his closeness to children and the sick. Despite their differences, both Francis and Benedict XVI are profoundly united. Insisting on the need to protect creation and preserve the human habitat, the Pope Francis calls on the powerful to choose between good and evil, without relativism. He calls for less bureaucracy and more witness and mission, talks to Taiwan's president and an Iranian minister.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis officially began his Petrine Ministry today in front of Saint Peter's Tomb and in St Peter's Square, the latter teeming with people from around the world. As his usual self, the reserved yet affable man who has endeared himself to everyone, he wore simple vestments to lead a simpler liturgy, a brotherly figure for the sick and for the children, always seeking a direct contact with people.

Many are quick to notice his "pastoral" approach to the Petrine Ministry, sometimes comparing it with that of Benedict XVI. I think it is a bit silly to compare and contrast personal traits as if they represented theological differences, as if, as some media organisations have suggested, the Church has "turned the page" with Pope Francis. This is not the case with the Argentine pope who on the day of his election turned his first thought to his "venerated predecessor".

If one rereads the address Benedict XVI delivered in his inaugural Mass and compare it to Francis's, we can see similarities. Both feel unworthy of such a huge responsibility. Both have asked the faithful to pray for them. Both view Christ as central. Both see power as service. Indeed, both are also moved by the same concern for the environment, the same idea of stewardship of oneself and creation, which the German pope called the inner and out deserts that Christians must heal.

Benedict spoke about ecumenism (consequence of Peter's broken net). Francis did not have to because he was able to exchange the sign of peace with Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, and Karekin II, the Armenian patriarch.

After stalling for years, the theological dialogue with Orthodox Churches was restarted under Benedict XVI. It was during his pontificate that the sense of unity between East and West flourished again, inspired by the pre-schism Church.

Of course, some changes have been made. Renewal is a constant feature of Church traditions, resting solidly on the continuity of truth.

Out of today's symbolism, three major elements can be clearly identified:

  1. For Pope Francis, Christians and humanity as whole have a duty; they are "stewards of creation".  Not in terms of mere "environmentalism," but in terms of what we might call "human ecology", the notion that creation is protected when humans protect themselves and the truth, as Pope Francis said today. Human ecology puts man and his spiritual dignity at the centre of all things (see Caritas in Veritate, n. 51).
  2. In his appeal to be stewards of creation, the pope directly addressed "all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment." This is a clear reference to what is good and to "God's design", natural law and the difference between good and evil; all the opposite of relativism and truths decided by majority rule.
  3. Speaking about Saint Joseph, Pope Francis said, "God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit." Hence, the Christian faith and bearing witness are more important than things and structures.

This pope will certainly streamline the Vatican and Church bureaucracy but he will do so in order to emphasise the Church's vocation: mission.

We already saw this today when, after the inaugural Mass, he greeted political dignitaries. Throwing aside the protocol, the pope hugged them, said hello to them, kissed anyone who came to greet him. He blessed the rosary beads Chile's president took out of his pocket as well as the family photo held up by a Caribbean dignitary

Unconcerned about possible "diplomatic consequences" with Beijing, he spoke at length with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. Unfazed by political considerations, he also spoke in a cordial manner with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Shia religious scholar.

 


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See also
09/03/2013 VATICAN
Pope: the tranquil light of Jesus drives out without armies the devil's false light
10/07/2013 VATICAN
Pope warns against everyday temptation to "flee from God "
12/25/2013 VATICAN
Pope: Christmas, glory to the merciful God, and peace to people tormented by war and violence
06/09/2014 VATICAN
Pope: the Beatitudes, a Christian’s "identity card" and "life plan"
06/05/2014 VATICAN
Pope: Unity in the Church is the Holy Spirit, not “uniformism”, “alternative-ism” and “exploitation-ism”

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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