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    » 03/13/2014, 00.00

    VATICAN

    One year of Pope Francis: Revolution in tradition

    Bernardo Cervellera

    Since becoming the “bishop of Rome” on March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been transforming the Church with his personal witness. His appeal for a Church of the poor, an outward bound Church, ‘the worlds' field hospital’ are the best fruit of the Second Vatican Council. Conservative and progressive interpretations abound, right and left, but this Pope just wants the world to encounter the salvation of Jesus Christ.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - One year on from the election of Pope Francis as successor to the Apostle Peter, we are becoming increasingly aware that he is guiding the Church towards a revolution, fought not by the sword but by personal witness, without throwing away the past, but by helping authentic tradition to flourish once again.

    This has been evident right from the outset, that first evening of 13 March, when presenting himself to the world from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica he asked us to pray together, and silence immediately descended on the packed square, which previously had been full of restless murmurs. Instead of proclaiming programs, he called for silence to listen to God's program (the one that "always precedes us").

    The Bishop of Rome asked for the prayers of the faithful. Some naive television commentators saw this gesture as a sign that he would dispose of hierarchical clericalism. Indeed, with his silent bow, the Pope lowered himself: to show that he is not a monarch, but a person with a mandate, someone who takes very seriously what one billion Catholics do every day with the rosary: "We pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be for the intentions of the supreme Pontiff". The most traditional element was expressed in unison with the single most revolutionary, most ....progressive element.

    The uniting of these two elements, the traditional and the progressive, appears to be characteristic of Francis. When he speaks of the poor, the Church of the poor, some see this as a sign of a redemption of the old liberation theology, the Church that "finally" take sides in society and fights ... As long as the poor - as we see in Evangelii Gaudium (EG) - are not deluded or manipulated by messianic politicians, or led astray by deaf and abstract intellectuals, but first of all nourished with the Word of God and the Eucharist!

    From this point of view, Francis is the ripest fruit of the Second Vatican Council, and especially of a "sound" reading of the Council. In these intervening decades - as was masterfully explained by Benedict XVI - the Church has been divided between a hermeneutic of rupture and a hermeneutic of continuity. The former read the Council as a watershed between the past and present-future: the latter read the development of the life of faith in unity with the past, albeit a past that is re-read and re-applied to the needs of modern man. In a strange short-sightedness, the "rupture" was attributed exclusively to progressive Catholicism, which was finally able to rid itself of the golden vestments, the tabernacles and Gregorian chant to become the master of its own liturgies.  It willingly forgot the sacraments in its desire to implement the class struggle; it preferred orthopraxis to orthodoxy and judged anyone who objected to this as the enemy. However, what went unnoticed was that a "rupture" is also present in the repetition of stale tradition, in the affirmation of orthodoxy without any concern for orthopraxis, in a rigid liturgy that fails to communicate the faith, in pounding on about laws and precepts from the pulpit, while despising the world and the man that Christ came to save.

    50 years after the Council, Pope Francis goes beyond these two ruptures, the right wing and the left wing, and reaffirms the Council and the reading thereof as an exegesis of continuity. This is why his every action is both traditional and modern; he spends time in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and in a moving and loving silence draws close to the long lines of the ill and sick who each Wednesday fill the front rows at the general audience, worshipping both the "body" and the "flesh of Christ."

    This overcoming of rupture is seen in his ability to reconcile his own priesthood and that of all of the faithful (instead of leaning towards one or the other) in his continuous enhancement of the role of the laity without diminishing that of priests; living as the bishop of Rome, enhancing that of the bishops conferences; his evoking universal charity: towards Syria, Ukraine, Central Africa ... the other Churches and Christian communities around the world, members of other religions.

    All those who place Pope Benedict XVI and Francis in opposition to one another (another rupture, once again aligned to the right and the left) should take note how EG liberally and with great precision quotes from the Council, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who - in Pope Francis' own words - is his adviser and friend.

    The Church and the world

    Perhaps the most critical point of the hermeneutic of rupture was the Church-world relationship. Some saw the Church as a leaven that penetrates the mass, or the salt that flavors it, but they ended up forgetting what it actually brought to the world by becoming hangers-on of often anti- Church and increasingly anti-human policies and ideologies.

    Others saw the Church as a citadel unsoiled by the dust of the villagers and that condemned and launched its arrows from on high, strengthening the ramparts to protect itself, while the world and the men were in danger of perishing far below.

    From the outset of his pontificate Francis has spoken of the "delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing" (taking the words of Paul VI ), and the Church "called out of itself and to move out to the outskirts, not just the geographical, but also existential outskirts".

    In this journey towards the world - the same as the Son of God - the Church brings the joy of encountering Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Church does not drown in the world, but gifts itself and its faith, and must not close itself up in its citadel, or among the remainders of its flock, condemning the world as irrecoverable.  Instead it brings the fertile and healing presence of Jesus Christ among a wounded humanity. John Paul II had already said (in Redemptor Hominis, 13 and 14) that "man is the principal path of the Church" and that "Christ is the path of the Church" showing that these two paths in the end are one.

    However, the world and those on the fringes of the Church are precisely those unlikely to understand this Pope's witness, in their tug of war pulling him from the right and from the left, from above and below, without ever really allowing themselves to be touched by his vital message .

    Alongside those who ask him to clarify his teaching, speak out in defense of those "values ​​" that contemporary society wants to rid the world of, there are those who see him merely as a representative of Latin America, an emblem of how the Church from the developing world has defeated the wealthy Church of the North Americans and Europeans; those who studying his commitment or his lack thereof against the Argentine generals, in an attempted resurrect the past.

    There are those who pull him even further, applauding his "openness" (real or supposed) towards homosexuals, gay marriage, communion for the divorced, women cardinals, in a rush toward the future.

    But none of these interpretations stop to consider the present: a transparent man in his faith and the joy of his relationship with Christ, which is why he does not offer the world a doctrine or an ideology, but an encounter with Christ himself.

    The pope, who - in keeping with the tradition of the social doctrine of the Church - said that an economy can not exist without ethics, is accused of being a Marxist.  At the same time, those who seem to applaud him as a revolutionary at every unusual gesture, are turning him into a "cult" icon of mass consumption, without being touched in the slightest by his invitation.

    These lame interpretations of Francis' pontificate fall under the ax of his judgment, when he warns the Church (and the world) against becoming "self-referential"; from the narcissism that is self congratulatory and forgets all else, and against "spiritual worldliness", the use of sacred things for personal gain. Often these judgments are applied to the priests who launder money, but never to oneself, or the defenders of conservative or liberal ideologies, who use the Pope to justify themselves and to keep the status quo.

    If there is a simple way to define the Francis' revolution, it is in the word "movement": his is a Church that moves, comes out, willing to travel a beaten path and even to strip itself bare to render the truth and the sweetness of the Savior available to everyone.

    After all, this is the mission of the Church and of every Christian: this is why we missionaries feel this Pope to be so close to our style and our concerns.

    But even in the world, in Italy and in other continents, especially in Asia - where Francis will travel soon - this Pope's witness is perceived as that of a friend capable of drawing close to one's own situation much like "a field hospital".

    Immersed in the decay of ideologies (fundamentalist, economic, nationalist, all conjugated with great egos), only a friend who is the bearer of a new, long-awaited light, can offer real hope.

     

     

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    See also

    14/03/2013 VATICAN
    Pope Francis: God scores a goal
    His election, after a few votes, shows unity among the cardinals. He is a pope who rejected Marxist liberation theology, but who lives like the poor and with the poor. He will be a reformer of the Curia starting from the mission of the Church, which is the message of Christ who is close to all men in everyday life. The dialogue with other Christian denominations and religions to meet the challenge of relativism and materialism, which gives rise to abortion, euthanasia, gender ideology, pollution, wild finance and dictatorships.

    12/03/2013 VATICAN - ASIA
    The future Pope will travel to Asia
    The most populous continent in the world has the largest number of non-Christians and poor. John Paul II saw Asia as the evangelization territory of the third millennium. A combination of the world's problems - fundamentalism, secularism, economic injustice, violent globalization, pollution - that longs for reconciliation, avoiding war. The Asian Churches are a sign of hope for Asia and the world.

    03/05/2013 ASIA - PIME
    PIME mission, in the footsteps of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis
    The PIME Annual General Meeting will discuss the mission ad gentes and "new evangelization"; missionary revival for the older Churches (Italy, USA, Latin America), and the communications media. But above all, the awakening of faith, according to the teaching of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis’ call to "go out to the geographical and existential outskirts".

    02/09/2010 ASIA - VATICAN
    Lay Catholics in Asia: a "sleeping giant" that is waking up
    Investing in church structures must not stifle the testimony in work, family, politics. The specific mission of the laity is to be in contact with the world and with non-Christians. The teaching of Ratzinger. The testimony of Mgr. Dao and Jess Estanislao, a former member of the Philippine government.

    03/09/2010 ASIA - VATICAN
    Lay movements in Asia, a gift of Providence in the midst of secularization
    Asia is teeming with groups and movements for the evangelization of the blind, AIDS patients, etc. .. All helping to discover Christ, without inhibitions, and passionate about the mission ad gentes. The commitment to cooperate with bishops and parishes, according to the instructions of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.



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