Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Conflicts that exist in the Church are solved through "discussion, scrutiny and prayer," not through "idle chat, envy and jealousy," Pope Francis said as he commented, before the Regina Caeli, the passage in the Acts of the Apostles in today's readings that refers to "the first tensions and the first disagreements" that emerged in the early Church, pointing out that "problems are not solved by pretending they do not exist," but through discussion and dialogue because "in life, there are conflicts," and "the problem is how to face them."
Speaking before a crowd of some 80,000 people that gathered in St Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer, the pope spoke about what happened when the early Christian community, "favoured by being members of a single, Jewish ethnic group and culture [. . .] opened itself to the Greek cultural world" and" lost its homogeneity and experienced its first difficulties. As the winds of discontent rose, complaints were heard, and rumours of favouritism and unfair treatment started to fly. Things that occur in our own parishes. Community help for the disadvantaged - widows, orphans and more generally the poor - seemed to have favoured Jewish Christians over others."
"Faced with such a conflict, the Apostles took matters in their own hands. They called a meeting, open to their disciples as well, and they all discussed the issue together. Everyone. Problems are not solved by pretending they do not exist! An open discussion between pastors and the other faithful is great. This way they came to a division of tasks."
"The Apostles made a proposal that everyone accepted: they would devote themselves to prayer and to ministering the Word, whilst seven men, the deacons, would serve in the soup kitchen."
"The seven were not chosen because they were business experts, but because they were honest men of good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Their service came into being through the Apostles laying their hands upon them. Hence, out of discontent and favouritism came a solution.
"Problems in the Church are solved through discussion and prayer with the certainty that idle chat, envy and jealousy can never bring harmony and peace. When we let the Holy Spirit guide us, it leads us to harmony. No idle chat, no envy, no jealousy. Do you understand?"
"May the Virgin Mary," he concluded, "help us be docile vis-à-vis the Holy Spirit so that we may regard each other with esteem and converge more and more deeply in faith and charity, keeping an open heart to the needs of our brothers."
After the recitation of the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis spoke about "Bishop Anton Durcovici, martyr of the faith, who was beatified yesterday in Iaşi, Romania. A zealous and courageous pastor, he was persecuted by the Communist regime in Romania and died in prison in 1951. He died of hunger and thirst. Together with the faithful of Iaşi and all Romania, let us give thanks to God."
The pope also called on the faithful to pray for "our brothers and sisters" who are suffering from the "serious floods that have devastated large parts of the Balkans, especially in Serbia and Bosnia."