Tag Archives: pope francis

Analysis: What is the context of Pope Francis’ words on the Lord’s Prayer

Pope Francis’ remarks on the “wrong” translation of the Lord’s Prayer in a TV show hosted by the Italian Bishops’ Conference’s TV2000 network are part of a wider debate that has taken place in Italy for over two decades.

The Pope said that the words “non ci indurre in tentazione” – “Do not lead us into temptation,” in the English version – are not correct, because, he said, God does not actively lead us into temptation.

The Pope also praised a new translation operated by the French Bishops’ conference.

The new French translation is “et ne nous laisse pas entrer in tentationI” – “let us not enter into temptation.” It replaces the previous translation “ne nous soumets pas à la tentation” – “do not submit us to temptation.”

It is worth noting that St. Thomas Aquinas considered the question of whether God leads men “into temptation” in a commentary he wrote on the Our Father. The saint, and Doctor of the Church, concluded that “God is said to lead a person into evil by permitting him to the extent that, because of his many sins, He withdraws His grace from man, and as a result of this withdrawal man does fall into sin.”

The Pope’s intent seems to be to emphasise that God’s active will does not “tempt” men, that, instead, the permissive will of God allows people to be tempted because of their sinfulness. This is the emphasis of the French translation. The theological context is complex, but certainly the Pope has not intended to deny the theological and scriptural sense in which God allows, or permits, temptation.

However, the Pope was talking in Italian, on an Italian television show, and his remarks dealt with the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer. It would be a mistake to assign his remarks significance beyond the Italian context, in which they would be well understood.

And, in fact, a new Italian translation of that very sentence of the Lord’s Prayer has already been done.

The new translation of the Bible issued by the Italian Bishops Conference says “do not abandon us to the temptation,” and the rephrasing of that sentence was the fruit of a long process, aimed at being more faithful to the Latin text of the prayer – the so-called editio typica – and at the same time more fit to the current language.

Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and a well known scripture scholar, who has also served as undersecretary and secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference, recounted to the Italian newspaper Avvenire how the process for a new translation took place.

“The work,” he said, “dates back to 1988, when the decision was made to review the old 1971 translation of the Bible.”

At that time, a working group of 15 scripture scholars was established, coordinated by a bishop – the first was Bishop Giuseppe Costanzo, then Bishop Wilhelm Egger, and finally Bishop Franco Festorazzi.

This working group collected the opinions of 60 more experts on scripture. The group was overseen by the Bishops Commission for the Liturgy, and the Italian Bishops’ Conference Permanent Council, a group composed of the presidents of regional bishops conference, and the presidents of the commissions established within the Bishops’ Conference itself.

Cardinal Betori said that “within the Permanent Council, a restricted committee for the translation was established,” was composed of Cardinals Giacomo Biffi and Carlo Maria Martini, and of Archbishops Benigno Luigi Papa, Giovanni Saldarini and Andrea Magrassi.

“This committee,” Cardinal Betori said, “also received and considered the proposal for the new translation of the Our Father.”

The formula “do not abandon us to temptation” was adopted because it met the approval of both Cardinal Martini and Biffi, who “were not, as is known, from the same schools of thought,” Cardinal Betori explained.

Cardinal Betori said that the formula was chosen because it had a wider meaning, as “do not abandon us to temptation” can both mean “do not abandon us, so that we will not fall into temptation” and “do not abandon… when we are already facing temptation,” Cardinal Betori explained.

The new translation was approved by the Italian bishops in 2000. In 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Liturgiam Authenticam, a set of new provisions for the translation of liturgical texts.

After Liturgiam Authenticam, the whole work of translation was reviewed by a group of experts, led by bishops Adriano Caprioli, Luciano Monari and Mansueto Bianchi. Cardinal Betori was part of this group.

The revision, which suggested many amendments, was forwarded to the bishops. However, these amendments “did not change the proposal for the new translation of the Lord’s Prayer.”

The new translation of the Bible was finally approved during the 2002 General Assembly of the Italian Bishops Conference, with 202 out of 203 bishops voting favourably. The text of the Lord’s Prayer was approved separately, to be certain there were no doubts from bishops. The Holy See gave its recognitio in 2007, and the Italian Bishops Conference Bible was finally published in 2008 with the new translation.

The new translation of the Lord’s Prayer was ‘transferred’ to the Missal. However, the new translation, in order to be part of liturgical use, must be approved by the Holy See, and the text has not been approved because there are other issues of concern in the Missal’s translation.

This is the reason why the formula for the Lord’s Prayer in Italian is still “non ci indurre in tentazione.”

Ultimately, speaking about the translation of the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis did not say anything really new. Italian theologians and scripture scholars have already provided their solution for the translation.

However, there is another story to be told. There is a question regarding what will happen to translations that once needed a “recognitio” from the Holy See, which is now simply called to “confirm” the new translation.

Will this lead to a general change in translations in languages other than Italian? – CNA

Pope writes preface for diaconate book

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has written the preface to a new book that contains his various pronouncements on the vocation to the diaconate which he says is “primarily realised in the service of the poor.”

The book by the Reverend Enzo Petrolino, a deacon from the diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova in Italy, brings together the Pope’s statements about the permanent diaconate from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires with his most recent ones as Bishop of Rome.

In his preface to the book entitled “The Diaconate in the thought of Pope Francis: A Poor Church for the Poor,” the Pontiff acknowledges that the roots of the permanent diaconate have been rediscovered in the period following the Second Vatican Council.

Writing in the forward, Pope Francis says: “The Church finds in the permanent diaconate the expression and at the same time the impulse to become itself a visible sign of the diaconia of Christ the Servant in the history of mankind.”

“Diakonia” is a Greek term in the Gospels which refers to the exercise of charity towards the poor.

The Pope writes: “The sensitivity to the formation of a ‘diaconal conscience’ can be considered the basic motive that must permeate Christian communities.”

He adds that all diaconia in the Church “has its beating heart in the Eucharistic Ministry and is primarily realised in the service of the poor who bear in themselves the face of the suffering Christ.”

The Pope recalls the moment when he was elected in the conclave and Cardinal Claudio Hummes turned to him saying: “Do not forget the poor.” It was then that in his heart he heard the name Saint Francis of Assisi, who tradition tells us was a deacon.

“He is for me,” Pope Francis writes, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and guards creation. He is the man from whom deacons must be inspired.” – vatican radio

Pope Francis tells his audience to stop taking cell-phone photos at Mass

Members of the faithful take photos of Pope Francis, as he arrives to lead the Liturgy of Penance in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 17 March  2017.  (Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY – On Wednesday Pope Francis chastised those who spend Mass talking to others, looking at their phone or even taking pictures during papal liturgies, saying these are distractions that take focus away from the “heart of the Church,” which is the Eucharist.

“The Mass is not a show: it is to go to meet the passion and resurrection of the Lord,” the Pope said on 8 Nov 2017. “The Lord is here with us, present. Many times we go there, we look at things and chat among ourselves while the priest celebrates the Eucharist… But it is the Lord!”

In particular, Francis condemned the use of cell phones to take photos at papal Masses. At one point during the Mass the priest says, “we lift up our hearts,” he said. “He does not say, ‘We lift up our phones to take photographs!’”

“It’s a bad thing! And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the Piazza or Basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops.”

“But think: when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted. (But) it is the Lord!”

During the general audience, Pope Francis said the Eucharist would be the new focus of his weekly catechesis for the year, because “it is fundamental for us Christians to understand well the value and meaning of the Holy Mass to live more and more fully our relationship with God.”

In the Eucharist we rediscover, through our senses, what is essential, he said. Just as the Apostle Thomas asked to see and touch the wounds of Jesus after his resurrection, we need the same thing: “to see him and touch him to be able to recognise him.”

In this way, the Sacraments meet this very “human need” of ours, he said. And in the Eucharist, in particular, we find a privileged way to meet God and his love.

The Second Vatican Council was inspired by the desire to help Christians understand the beauty of the encounter in the Eucharist even better, he continued. This is why “it was necessary first to implement, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an adequate renewal of the liturgy.”

A central theme emphasised at Vatican II was the liturgical formation of the faithful, which Francis said is also the aim of the series of catechesis he began on Wednesday: to help people “grow in the knowledge of this great gift God has given us in the Eucharist.”

As a side note, Francis asked if people had noticed the chaotic way children make the sign of cross at Mass, moving their hand all over their chest, and asked people to teach children to make the sign of the cross well.

“We need to teach children to do the sign of the cross well,” he said, noting that this is how Mass begins, because just as Mass begins this way, “so life begins, so the day begins.”

Concluding his reflection on the Mass and the Eucharist, Pope Francis said that he hopes that through these brief weekly lessons, everyone will rediscover the beauty “hidden in the Eucharistic celebration, and which, when revealed, gives a full meaning to the life of everyone.” – CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis speaks with ISS commander and crew

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis spoke via satellite link with the crew of the International Space Station on 26 Oct 2017. Astronaut Randolph Bresnik of the US commands the current, 53rd ISS expedition, which has a complement of five mission specialists: Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli; Russian astronauts Sergey Ryanzansky and Alexander Misurkin; and US astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.

The video link-up lasted about 20 minutes, with the pope speaking to the astronauts from the “auletta” of the Paul VI Hall, in the presence of the President of the Italian Space Agency (ASA), Roberto Battiston, and the Director of Earth Observation Programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher.

During the course of the virtual visit, Pope Francis asked questions of the astronauts, on topics ranging from the place of humanity in the universe, to the difference in perspective that living on the ISS brings, to the role of “That Love which moves the sun and the other stars,” in their work of understanding, to their reasons for desiring to explore space.

Francis is not the first pontiff to speak to the ISS. Benedict XVI had done so on 21 May 2011. In thanking the crew, the pope said, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts; this is the example you give us. Thank you for representing the whole human family in the great research project of this space station.” – vatican radio/asianews.it

Pope offers clarifications on new process for liturgical translations

VATICAN CITY – In a letter responding to questions raised by Cardinal Robert Sarah on the new process of translating liturgical texts from Latin into vernacular languages, Pope Francis offered several points of clarification.

The Pope discussed points regarding the approval of new translations and the relationship between translations and Latin texts.

He clarified that while in the past, it was the task of the Vatican’s liturgical office to judge whether or not a translation is faithful to the original Latin, episcopal conferences themselves have now been given the faculty of “judging the goodness and consistency of one and the other term in the translations from the original, in dialogue with the Holy See.”

Dated 15 Oct 2017, the Pope’s letter was in response to one he had received from Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the end of September thanking the Pope for his recent motu proprio “Magnum Principium” (MP) on the translation of liturgical texts, and offering a commentary on how to interpret the motu proprio.

The motu proprio, published Sept 9, granted episcopal conferences the task of both preparing and approving texts that had been “faithfully” translated from the original Latin, while cementing the role of the Apostolic See in confirming the translations approved by bishops.

In his commentary, Cardinal Sarah had argued that the new process for translating liturgical texts still follows the rules put into place with the 2001 Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (LA), which said the vernacular versions must faithfully reflect the language and structure of the Latin texts.

Sarah also looked at the role of the Holy See and bishops’ conferences in both “recognising” (recognitio) and “confirming” (confirmatio) modifications to liturgical texts, arguing that the term “recognitio” used in the new canons involves adaptions of texts, while “confirmatio” involves translations.

Because of this, the terms are different, even if they are “interchangeable with respect to the responsibility of the Holy See,” Sarah said. He also argued that the “recognitio” of liturgical texts implies a preliminary consultation with the Holy See before translation processes begin, with the “confirmatio” of the Holy See being the final step.

In his letter to Cardinal Sarah, the Pope thanked him for his commitment and for sending the commentary, but offered some simple “observations” on the commentary “which I consider to be important, especially for the proper application and understanding of the motu proprio and to avoid any misunderstanding.”

The first point Francis made was that his motu proprio Magnum Principium “abolished” the process for translating used by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments after LA was published in 2001. Magnum Principium, he said, “sought to change” this process.

The Pope said of the terms “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” that it cannot be said that they are “strictly synonymous or interchangeable or that they are interchangeable at the level of responsibility of the Holy See.”

The distinction between “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” he said, emphasises “the different responsibility” that the Apostolic See and episcopal conferences have in liturgical translations.

“Magnum Principium no longer claims that translations must conform on all points to the norms of LA, as was done in the past,” the Pope said, explaining that because of this, individual numbers in LA have to be “carefully re-understood.”

He said this includes numbers 79-84, which deal specifically with the requirement for a vernacular translation to have the “recognitio” of Rome. These numbers, Francis said, “have been abrogated,” and “re-formulated” with the publication of MP.

The “confirmatio” of the Vatican, then, “no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination,” he said, except in obvious cases which can be brought to the bishops for further reflection. This, the Pope said, applies to texts such as the Eucharistic Prayers or sacramental formulas.

Pope Francis said the new norms imply “a triple fidelity,” first of all to the original Latin text, to the particular languages the text is translated into, and to the comprehension of the text by its recipients.

In this sense, the “recognitio” of the texts only implies “the verification and preservation of conformity” to the Code of Canon Law and the communion of the Church, he said.

Francis also emphasised that in the process of translating liturgical texts, there should be no “spirit of imposition” on bishops conferences of a translation done by the Vatican’s liturgical department.

The Pope said “it is wrong to attribute to the ‘confirmatio’ the purpose of the ‘recognitio,’” which is to “verify and safeguard” in accordance with the law. He also stressed that the “confirmatio” is not “merely a formal act, but necessary for the edition of the translated liturgical book,” and is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for a confirmation of the bishops’ approved text.

Pope Francis closed his letter noting that Cardinal Sarah’s commentary had been published on several websites, and asked that the cardinal transmit his response to the same outlets, as well as to members and consultors of the Congregation for Divine Worship. –  CNA/EWTN News

The pope’s new liturgy document: who was involved and what that tells us

An altar server holds a copy of a Roman Missal during Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va., in this 2011 file photo. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University Philadelphia, shares his analysis on Pope Francis’ newest document on liturgical translations on America the Jesuit Review, on 12 Sept 2017.

“Magnum Principium” is one of the major documents of Francis’ pontificate. For this reason, it deserves an analysis that is not only one of historical-theological context—and not just from the point of view of its possible consequences for the liturgical texts in English—but also an analysis of the institutional context in which it was decided and published.

The establishment of national bishops’ conferences, to which the apostolic letter gives back authority in matters of translations of liturgical texts, was the most important and effective institutional reform of the Second Vatican Council. Even before the council’s “Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church” (1965), which mandated the creation of national bishops’ conferences in all nations, the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” approved in December 1963, relied on this new (though certainly present in different forms in the early centuries of Christianity) governing structure in the Catholic Church. This was part of the council fathers’ larger vision for a new relationship between Rome and the local churches. In this sense, Francis addresses the issue of the translations of liturgical texts in the context of his vision for the church and the role of the Roman Curia.

“Magnum Principium” also continues a pattern that has proven one of the most interesting elements of this pontificate. Francis’ efforts to reform the Roman Curia and decentralise the government of the Roman Catholic Church have tended to bypass and evade the role of the congregations of the Roman Curia. For example, “Magnum Principium” was issued by the pope motu proprio (“on his own initiative”), not as an instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments or a joint document of more than one congregation. It is also notable that “Magnum Principium” was published during a papal trip abroad. It was published the day Francis was in Medellín, Colombia [9 Sept 2017], where the foundational event for the post-Vatican II church in Latin America took place: the continental conference of CELAM (the council of the Roman Catholic bishops of Latin America) in 1968. If it was a coincidence, it was a very interesting one.

The document must also be read in the context of the recent history of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the recurring tensions between Pope Francis and Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the congregation and the most visible critic of this pontificate from inside the Roman Curia. It is hard to imagine much of a role for Cardinal Sarah, who was appointed prefect by Francis in November 2014, in the crafting of this text. The prefect is not mentioned, and the official commentary accompanying the publication of “Magnum Principium” does not have his signature but instead that of the secretary of the congregation, Archbishop Arthur Roche (appointed by Benedict XVI in June 2012 to replace Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who was made vice president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” by Benedict XVI). Archbishop Roche was chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy between 2003 and 2012, when the commission oversaw the new English translation of the Mass.

In the apostolic letter, Francis says that he relied on a commission of bishops and experts. We do not know the names of the members, but in October 2016 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments went through a major change of personnel, with the appointment of 27 new members. Among them was the former liturgist for St John Paul II, Archbishop Piero Marini. Among those removed from the two congregations were the cardinals Angelo Scola (Milan), Angelo Bagnasco (Genoa) and Peter Erdo (Esztergom-Budapest). Perhaps more important, however, were the departures of these four cardinals: George Pell (Secretariat for the Economy), Raymond Burke (Knights of Malta), Marc Ouellet (Congregation for Bishops) and Malcolm Ranjith (Colombo, Sri Lanka). New appointees included Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state; and a new cardinal who very much shares Francis’ ecclesiology, John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand.

The tension between the pope and Cardinal Sarah is particularly interesting because it seems in part to be the result of Francis’ recent emphasis on the liturgy. In July 2016 Francis responded, through an unusual communiqué of the Holy See press office, to Cardinal Sarah’s statements that had attributed to the pope an endorsement of the “reform of the liturgical reform.” In November 2016 La Civiltà Cattolica published an article highlighting Francis’ positive view of the liturgical reform of Vatican II, as expressed in the foreword to a volume of his homilies recently published in Italian. And in January 2017 news leaked from Rome that Francis had created a commission to review “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the instruction issued in 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship on liturgical translations. Finally, on 24 Aug 2017, in a speech to Italian liturgists in Rome, Francis himself spoke of the liturgical reform of Vatican II as “irreversible.” These recent developments provide more context for “Magnum Principium.”

Though some see in this document an endorsement of a more “localist” ecclesiology as part of Francis’ decentralisation effort, “Magnum Principium” can also be seen as Francis’ response to the issue of translations of liturgical texts in the English-speaking world in this last decade. “The sorry saga of the failed English translation of Roman Missal III,” as the Rev Michael Ryan put it in an article for America, is a key part of the context. It is important to remember that the new English translation of the Missal was more a US-led operation than a Roman one, with major American prelates taking the lead to change ICEL and the role of the Vatican in the process of liturgical translations, as John Baldovin SJ, has pointed out.

Other language groups resisted the new wave of revisions of liturgical translations under Benedict XVI—even some not known for hostility to the Vatican and the papacy. For example, in 2012, the Italian bishops’ conference rejected the change in the translation of pro multis in the liturgy from “for all” to “for many” by an overwhelming majority. With “Magnum Principium,” Francis is restoring trust between Rome and the national bishops’ conferences but at the same time reasserting the role of Rome as the institutional guarantee of the trajectory of the liturgical reform of Vatican II. This mix of a top-down (the role of the papacy) and bottom-up (bishops’ conferences) approach has been typical of the history of liturgical reform since Vatican II, particularly during the pontificate of Paul VI.

Finally, “Magnum Principium” says something about the governing style of Francis. This apostolic letter is further evidence that Francis is governing the Catholic Church with almost no reliance on the Curia and, in some cases, is working at odds with major figures in the Curia. It is clear that Francis has in mind a continuing role for the Roman Curia in the church. In a recent book-length interview in French with the sociologist Dominique Wolton, Francis dismisses the idea of abolishing the Curia. At the same time, he is using the Curia in a very different way than his predecessors.

All this is taking place just as a comprehensive plan for the reform of the Roman Curia is approaching its final stage, as the secretary of the pope’s Council of Cardinals, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, announced in an interview with Vatican Radio just a few hours before Francis returned from Colombia. – americamagazine.org

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I issue first joint message on ecology

 

File photo: Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I sign a Joint Declaration reaffirming their desire to overcome obstacles dividing their churches on 30 Nov 2014 at the Phanar Turkey. AP Photo.

VATICAN CITY – For the first time, Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I are launching an appeal in a joint message, on the occasion of the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, celebrated on 1 Sept 2017.

On August 30, toward the conclusion of his General Audience in St Peter’s Square, the Pope himself announced this initiative.

Francis explained, “we invite everyone to adopt a respectful and responsible attitude toward Creation.”

“We also appeal,” he added, “to those who have influential roles, to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor who suffer most from ecological imbalances.”

In 2015, Pope Francis instituted this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, joining the Orthodox who have celebrated it on the date of September 1, for years. – zenit.org

Pope celebrates episcopal silver jubilee

VATICAN CITY – On 27 June 2017, Pope Francis marked the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop, celebrating Mass with members of the College of Cardinals in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Commenting on the day’s readings, the Holy Father remarked that the patriarch Abraham “was more or less our age” when he heard the Lord’s call. But he rejected the charge that the hierarchy is “the ‘gerontocracy’ of the Church.” Rather, he said, “we are grandfathers, to whom our grandchildren look.” He went on to say that as grandfathers, bishops and cardinals “are called to dream and to pass on our dream to today’s youth.”

Speaking in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano offered the best wishes of the College to the Pope, assuring him of the cardinals’ prayers and allegiance. – CWN

Pope Francis refers to the end of his pontificate

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis caused a stir in a crowd in Rome on 8 April 2017 by suggesting that he might not survive to see the next international celebration of World Youth Day, which will be held in Panama in 2019.

“I don’t know whether I will be there, but the Pope will be in Panama!,” the Pontiff said. He also mentioned that “at my age, we are getting ready to leave the scene.”

The Pope, who is 80 years old, contrasted his situation with that of the young people who joined him for a prayer vigil in anticipation of World Youth Day. “You have the future in front of you,” he told them.

Pope Francis has mentioned on several occasions that he does not expect to have a long pontificate. However Vatican insiders say that there are no particular concerns about his health. – CWN

Pope Francis marks four years as pope

Pope Francis (R) and new cardinals visit with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the retired pope’s residence after a consistory at the Vatican 19 Nov 2016. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

PENAMPANG – 13 March 2017 marks the fourth anniversary of Pope Francis as pope.  Below is a reflection by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese on the impact of the pope has on the church.

In four years, the pope has had a profound impact on the church. True, he has not changed the church’s position on birth control, celibacy, women priests and gay marriage, but he has fundamentally changed how we see the church in five ways.

First, the pope has called for a new way of evangelising. He tells us that the first words of evangelisation must be about the compassion and mercy of God, rather than a list of dogmas and rules that must be accepted. He speaks daily of the compassion and love of God. Our response, he says, is to show compassion and love to all our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and marginalised. He not only talks about it; he does it by reaching out to refugees, the homeless, and the sick.

Second, Pope Francis is allowing open discussion and debate in the church. He is not scandalised by disagreements, even over doctrine. It is impossible to exaggerate how extraordinary this is. Only during Vatican II was such a debate possible. Ironically, conservatives who attacked progressives as dissenters under earlier papacies have now become dissenters to the teaching of Pope Francis.

Under Francis, synodal participants were encouraged by the pope to speak their minds boldly and not worry about disagreeing with him. The result is a freer exchange of views, public disagreements, and even outright criticism of the pope by some conservative cardinals. All of this would never have been allowed under earlier popes.

Third, Cardinal Burke and the pope’s critics are right; the pope is presenting a new way of thinking about moral issues in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia. He is moving the church away from an ethics based on rules to one based on discernment. Facts, circumstances, and motivations matter in such an ethics.

Under this approach to moral theology, it is possible to see holiness and grace in the lives of imperfect people, even those in irregular marriages. Rather than seeing the world as divided between the good and the bad, we are all seen as wounded sinners for whom the church serves as a field hospital where the Eucharist is food for the wounded rather than a reward for the perfect. Gone is any attempt to scare people into being good.

Fourth, the pope has raised environmental issues to a central place in the Catholic faith. He recognises that global warming may be the most important moral issue of the 21st century. In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, the pope tells us that “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

His encyclical was greeted enthusiastically by environmentalists who in the past saw the church as an enemy because of its position on birth control. Now the church is an ally because environmentalists are recognising that religion is one of the few things that can motivate people to the kind of self-sacrifice required to save the planet. The pope’s encyclical has shown the way.

Finally, the pope has moved to reform the governance structures of the church. True, reform of the Roman Curia has proceeded slowly, but it is happening. The financial reforms are spreading through the various Vatican agencies, beginning with the Vatican bank and moving through other entities. The Vatican budgetary process has been tightened up, and various offices have been consolidated. This is all for the good of the church. There is still lots to be done, but it is happening.

More importantly, he is trying to change the culture of the clergy, moving them away from clericalism to a vocation of service. He wants bishops and priests to see themselves as servants of the people of God, not princes.

Most important for the protection of his legacy, he has broken with tradition and seized control of the process for appointing cardinals. Rather than simply promoting prelates in traditional cardinalatial sees, he has reached into the college of bishops for cardinals that reflect his priorities and values. This increases the chances that his successor, elected by these cardinals, will continue his agenda and not roll back the changes that he has made.

Copyright © 2017. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.