In a letter to the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America Francis speaks of the "temptation" of clericalism that "not only cancels out the Christian personality, but also tends to belittle and underestimate the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of the our people ".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - " It is not for the pastor to determine what the faithful have to say in different arenas" of public life. He should instead look for ways to encourage, accompany and stimulate the commitment of the laity, without falling into clericalism, that is into the "temptation to think that the committed lay person is someone who works in the Church organizations and / or in the affairs of the parish or diocese” in “matters pertaining to priests ". This is the passionate vindication for space for God's People in the lengthy letter written by the Pope to Card. Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the result of his meeting on March 4 last with the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the organism which was held on the theme "The essential commitment of the laity in public life".
In the document, made public today, Francis speaks of "a wrong way of living the ecclesiology of Vatican II", ignoring the clericalism problem. "This attitude not only cancels out the Christian personality, but also tends to belittle and to underestimate the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the hearts of our people. Clericalism leads to approval of the laity; treating the laity as 'representative' limits their various initiatives and efforts, and, dare I say, the audacity necessary to bring the Good News of the Gospel to all areas of social and especially political life. Clericalism, far from giving impetus to diverse contributions and proposals, extinguishes drop by drop, the prophetic fire of which the whole Church is called to bear witness in the hearts of its peoples. Clericalism forgets that the visibility and the sacramental nature of the Church belong to the whole people of God (cfr. Lumen Gentium, nn. 9-14), and not just a select, and enlightened, few".
"Today - writes Francis - many of our cities have become true places of survival. Places where the culture of waste appears to have taken root leaving little room for hope. There are our brothers and sisters, immersed in these struggles, with their families, who seek not only to survive, but , amid contradictions and injustices, seek the Lord and want to bear witness to Him. What does the fact that the laity are working in public life mean for us shepherds? It means looking at ways to encourage, accompany and stimulate all attempts and efforts that today are trying to keep hope and faith alive in a world full of contradictions, especially for the poor, especially the poorest. It means, as pastors, engaging in the midst of our people and, with our people, upholding faith and hope. Opening doors, working with Him, dreaming with Him, thinking, and above all by praying with Him. 'We need to recognize the city' - and therefore all areas where there is the life of our people - 'from a contemplative look, that is a vision of faith that discovers the God who dwells in its houses, its streets, in the streets ... He lives among the citizens by promoting solidarity, fraternity, a desire for goodness, truth, justice. This presence should not be manufactured, but discovered, unveiled. God does not hide from those who seek Him with a sincere heart '(Evangelii gaudium, n. 71). It is not for the pastor to tell the layman what to do and say, he knows as much and better than us. It is not for the pastor to determine what the faithful have to say in the various areas. As pastors, united with our people, it is good for us to ask how we are stimulating and promoting charity and fraternity, the desire for good, truth and justice. This is how we ensure that corruption does not nest in our hearts".
In a clerical vision, writes the Pope, "without realizing it, we have created an elite laity believing that only those who work in matters pertaining to 'priests' are really committed, and we have forgotten, overlooked, the believer who often burns his hope in the daily struggle to live the faith. These are the situations that clericalism cannot see, because it is more concerned with dominating spaces than generating processes. We must therefore recognize that the laity has its reality, its identity, because immersed in the heart of social, public and political life, because they participate in cultural forms that constantly generate, needs new forms of organization and celebration of the faith . The current rhythms of life are so different (not saying better or worse) than those who lived thirty years ago! 'This requires that conceive spaces for prayer and communion space with innovative features, attractive and important for local peoples' (Evangelii gaudium, n. 73). It is illogical, and even impossible, to think that we as pastors we should have a monopoly on solutions to the multiple challenges that modern life presents to us. On the contrary, we must take the side of our people, accompanying them on their journey and stimulating that imagination capable of responding to the current problems. And this discerning with our people and never for our people or without our people. As St. Ignatius, would say 'according to the needs of the places, times and people'. That is no smoothing. You cannot give general directives to organize the people of God within public life. Acculturation is a process that we pastors are called to encourage, encouraging people to live their faith where they are and as they are. Inculturation is learning to find out how a certain portion of the people today, in the here and now of history, lives, celebrates and proclaims their faith. With a particular identity and the basis of the problems it faces, as well as with all the reasons you have to rejoice. Inculturation is a craft, not a factory for the production in series of processes to 'manufacture Christians worlds or spaces''.