Category Archives: Pope Francis

Pope: Be bishops for your flock

Pope at Mass: , not for your career
Vatican NEWS 2018-05-15

Pope Francis says he prays all bishops follow the example of the Apostle Paul with his obedience to the Holy Spirit and his love for his flock. His words came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday morning in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

By Susy Hodges

Pope Francis focused his reflections on the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles where Paul, “compelled by the Holy Spirit,” takes his leave from the Church Elders at Ephesus to go to Jerusalem. “It’s a decisive move, a move that reaches the heart, it’s also a move that shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down,” he said.

Paul’s examination of conscience
Retracing the biblical account of how Paul summoned the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus to take his leave of them, Pope Francis noted how the Apostle made an examination of his conscience, telling the Elders what he had done for the community and leaving them to judge his work. Paul seemed “a bit proud,” said the Pope, but in actual fact “he is objective.”  He only boasts about two things: “his own sins and the Cross of Jesus Christ which saved him.”

The Apostle is listening to the Holy Spirit
Describing how Paul feels “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to go to Jerusalem, Pope Francis said: “This experience by the bishop, the bishop who can discern the Spirit, who can discern when it is the Spirit of God speaking to him and who knows how to defend himself when spoken to by the spirit of the world.”

In some way, the Pope said, Paul knows that he is going “towards trials, towards the cross and this recalls for us Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, doesn’t it?”

The Apostle, he went on, “is obediently offering himself up to the Lord. That (expression) compelled by the Holy Spirit. The bishop who always goes forward but according to the Holy Spirit.  This is Paul.”

His farewell: watch over the flock
Turning next to Paul’s farewell words, Pope Francis noted how Paul takes his leave amidst the pain of those present by giving them advice in a testament which is not a worldly testament “about leaving belongings to this person or that person.”
Paul’s great love, said the Pope, “is Jesus Christ.  His second love is for his flock. Take care of each other and of the entire flock. Keep watch over the flock: you are bishops for your flock, to take care of it and not in order to advance your ecclesiastical career.”

Paul’s testament
Noting how Paul entrusted the Elders to God, knowing that He will take care of them, the Pope stressed that the Apostle spoke of having no desire to have any money or gold for himself. He described Paul’s testament as “a witness, as well as an announcement and a challenge.” This was no worldly testament, said Pope Francis because Paul had nothing to leave to others, “only the grace of God, his apostolic courage, Jesus Christ’s revelation and the salvation that Our Lord had granted him.”

The Pope thinks about when his time will come
“When I read this, I think about myself, he declared, “because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”
He concluded his homily with a prayer: “I am thinking of all bishops. May the Lord grant all of us the grace to be able to take our leave and step down in this way (like Paul), with that spirit, with that strength, with that love for Jesus Christ and this faith in the Holy Spirit.”

The soul is God’s temple

not your own, [Pope] Francis warns
By Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2018 / 05:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Like Jesus cast out the merchants from the temple in Jerusalem, we should drive the desire for personal gain and advantage from our hearts, replacing it with love, Pope Francis said Sunday.

“We are called to keep in mind those strong words of Jesus: ‘Do not make a market of my Father’s house.’”

“They help us to reject the danger of making our soul, which is the abode of God, a marketplace,” the Pope said March 4, “living in continuous search of our personal profit, rather than in generous and supportive love.”

Speaking before the Angelus, Francis noted that “this teaching of Jesus is always relevant, not only for ecclesial communities, but also for individuals, for civil communities and for societies.”
Recounting the day’s Gospel reading from John, he said that it is a common temptation to want to take advantage of some good and necessary activity in order to cultivate “private, if not even illicit, interests.”

“It is a serious danger, especially when it exploits God himself and the worship due to him, or service to man, [who is made in God’s] image. So Jesus used ‘strong ways’ that time to shake us from this deadly danger,” he explained.

The Pope also pointed out that when Jesus drove out the merchants and moneychangers from the temple, it wasn’t considered a violent act by those who witnessed it, but a typical action of prophets, who would often denounce abuses and excesses in the name of God.

That is why in the Gospel passage the Jews ask Jesus: “What sign do you show us to do these things?” They are asking what authority Jesus has to speak and act in the name of God.
The “sign” that Jesus will give as proof of his authority is his death and resurrection, the Pope continued. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” and as the evangelist notes: “He spoke of the temple of his body.”

“The attitude of Jesus recounted in today’s Gospel passage urges us to live our lives not in search of our advantages and interests, but for the glory of God, who is love,” he said.
“May the Virgin Mary support us in our commitment to make Lent a good opportunity to recognize God as the one Lord of our life, removing every form of idolatry from our heart and our works.”

Pope Francis by Muris–Let’s get this straight:

Let’s get this straight: Concern about Pope Francis is not rooted in dissent, but in dismay.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio – articles – email) | Mar 17, 2017

One wonders where Pope Francis finds the people who provide articles to L’Osservatore Romano which attack those who raise questions about his leadership. The latest is Father Salvador Pié-Ninot, who has criticized what he calls “dissent in the form of public criticism” of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Of course, I do not know that the Pope actively recruited Fr. Pié-Ninot. As evidenced by the broadside released by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, there are plenty of churchmen who are happy to preach tradition and orthodoxy when those who can promote them are traditional and orthodox, and to condemn those who value tradition and orthodoxy when those who can promote them are not.

This is nothing new, though I freely admit the uncertainty of assigning motives in particular cases. What I really do know, however, is that the arguments made by Fr. Pié-Ninot completely misrepresent the nature of the concerns of the faithful in this matter. Since Fr. Pié-Ninot is a theologian, one has little choice but to surmise that such misrepresentation is either deliberate or unwittingly driven by ideology—even if we grant that this is only a reasonable assumption, not a known fact.

I say this because Fr. Pié-Ninot’s criticism is based on the claim that some Catholics are guilty of “dissent in the form of public criticism”. But there are two glaring errors in this claim. First, criticism is not dissent unless it takes the form of denying the truth of something the Church has taught. Second—and this is the main point—as a general rule those who have criticized the Pope’s approach to divorce, remarriage and Communion have not denied the truth of anything Pope Francis has officially taught.

Two Issues

I regret that, even in some of our own commentary, we have used a kind of shorthand, talking about the controversy over Amoris Laetitia. But the controversy which is shaking the Church at present is not over what Amoris Laetitia actually says but how it is to be interpreted in practice. The questions arise precisely because Pope Francis himself has encouraged bishops and pastors to address these marriage questions in ways that (a) are forbidden in Canon Law; (b) violate both Catholic tradition and the clear magisterial teaching of Pope John Paul II; and (c) are not, in fact, taught in Amoris Laetitia.

The only problem which reasonable critics have discerned (to use one of Pope Francis’ favorite words) in Amoris Laetitia is an unfortunate (and perhaps tendentious) lack of clarity. This affects two particular issues:

Gradualism:

In section 8 of the document, Pope Francis repeats Pope John Paul II’s conclusion that gradualism in moral theology can be used to describe the subjective stages of moral growth but can never be understood as “gradualism of the law”. Though Francis does not say so, gradualism of the law would mean that different moral teachings apply to persons at different stages of moral growth: What is sinful for a saint will not be deemed sinful for a person who is less advanced spiritually. This, of course, would be nonsense. Sinful behaviors are objectively wrong. Only degrees of personal guilt can vary.

Unfortunately, instead of clarifying this point, Pope Francis continues with a discussion that can be interpreted to lapse directly into what he has just denied, namely gradualism of the law. He suggests (but does not clearly teach) that it is possible to recognize that a sinner may be doing the best he can even though he has chosen to persist in his sin (as opposed to repenting of it but sometimes falling again). This leads to (unstated) speculation about whether the person should be judged to be actually sinning. The Pope suggests (but does not clearly teach) the idea that such a person may be pursuing a lesser good that simply falls short of the ideal. Insofar as this text can be taken to undermine the Church’s confidence in the liberating grace available through Christ, the discussion would be construed as drifting tacitly into gradualism of the law.

Admission to Communion:

On the question of changing the traditional Catholic teaching and discipline concerning the reception of the Eucharist, the text of Amoris Laetitia does not directly address it. Rather it offers two uncertain hints. First, in #300, the text states that since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, “the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.” Footnote 336, attached to this sentence, is not much clearer: “This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline…”.

Second, in #305, the text reads: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin—which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such—a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” But there is no clarification of what this might mean in marriage cases, and once again, footnote 351 (attached to this sentence), is not much clearer: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.” The note then reminds readers of certain aspects of Penance and Eucharist, without specifying how and when they are to be used. Yet the use of both has been expressed clearly and consistently in the past, encouraging Penance in these cases, and prohibiting Communion.

Immediate Confusion

It is impossible to pretend (as some ecclesiastics have done) that there is no sincere confusion. As a matter of public record, the text of Amoris Laetitia as it affects these two issues has meant different things even to different bishops and cardinals. Some bishops (and episcopal conferences) have decided the text does not change the existing sacramental discipline of the Eucharist, especially since Canon Law has not been changed. Indeed, this is also the conclusion of the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Other bishops (and episcopal conferences) have decided the text intends to permit reception of Communion in some (or a few) cases by those who are divorced and remarried without benefit of an annulment, after a period of discernment with the help of their pastors.

Still other bishops have decided that reception of Communion for those in every sort of irregular marital situation is now left to the persons in question, who are to decide for themselves if they feel comfortable enough with their situation to receive the Eucharist. As far as we know, Pope Francis has never even unofficially favored this third view, but neither has he unofficially favored the first. The only interpretation the Pope has favored in interviews, conversations and personal letters is the second. Meanwhile, a number of bishops and theologians have proposed examples of cases which could justify reception of Communion under the second interpretation, but they have not agreed with each other on which cases qualify.

In other words, there are widely varying and mutually inconsistent interpretations all across the board, and it is precisely this that faithful Catholics throughout the Church have complained about. In addition, it is precisely this confusion that the cardinals who submitted “dubia” to Pope Francis hoped to remedy. They used the traditional method of seeking clarification by presenting a number of precise questions that can only be answered with a clear “yes” or “no”. For their pains, Pope Francis has not only refused to clarify what he means, but he has belittled all those who have such questions, including the cardinals. He has called them names, and he has launched a campaign of public criticism and demotion of critics, along with both publication and promotion for those who are willing to champion the uncertainty, pretending that only bad Catholics are confused.

Conclusion

The point of all this is to demonstrate that Father Salvador Pié-Ninot has completely missed the point by characterizing Catholics with legitimate questions as dissenters. The truth is that none of those who are confused by the Pope’s overall behavior in this matter have accused him of error in his exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium (such as Amoris Laetitia). What has concerned them is the uncertainty of the text coupled with the Pope’s personal (non-magisterial) support of pastoral practices which, again, he has not officially taught. To review, these pastoral practices and the claims that justify them contradict the current Code of Canon Law, deviate from Catholic tradition, differ from the formally-taught conclusion on this very matter by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio (#84), and so have thrown the Church into conflict and confusion around the world.

It is critical to recognize that this is not a question of dissent. It is a request for the elimination of serious confusion which has been actively encouraged by the Pope. As I have stated several times before, Pope Francis is actively pursuing a pastoral and administrative program based on principles of faith and morals which the Holy Spirit appears to have prevented him from officially teaching. Under such circumstances, dissent does not enter into the issue at all. It is shamefully disingenuous to suggest that it does. Two things alone enter into this question: Dismay that this has come to pass in the Church, and deep concern for the care of souls.

Comments

Posted by: dover beachcomber – Mar. 23, 2017 4:41 PM ET USA “The controversy which is shaking the Church at present is not over what Amoris Laetitia actually says but how it is to be interpreted in practice.” Change “Amoris Laetitia” to “the Second Vatican Council” and you have a fine summary of the predicament of the last 50 years.
Posted by: Jeff Mirus – Mar. 22, 2017 10:12 AM ET USA bkmajer3729: You raise a good question, but once again we have a statement which the context protects from the necessity to understand it as an error in Faith. Paragrah 297 is about the human tendency to write people off. The emphasis is on “reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.” It is in this sense that the Pope writes, in the very next sentence, that “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” But he then goes on to say, “Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion. Yet even for that person there can be some way of taking part in the life of community, whether in social service, prayer meetings or another way that his or her own initiative, together with the discernment of the parish priest, may suggest.” In other words, there are questions of prudence here, including prudence of expression, but nothing that (considering the context) can be shown as intending to violate prior Catholic teaching.

Editor: Continue to pray to eliminate the confusion.

False Idols by Pope Francis

Christian Hope and False Idols by Pope Francis The Pope February 06, 2017
We carry forward the culture of life as the answer to the logic of rejection and demographic decline; we are close and together we pray for the children who are in danger of the interruption of pregnancy, as well as for persons who are at the end of life—every life is sacred!—so that no one is left alone and that love may defend the meaning of life.

In the January 11, 2017, general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis continued his cycle of catechesis dedicated to Christian hope, this time considering the issue of “false idols” that generate false hope.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In the month of December and in the first part of January we celebrated the Season of Advent and then Christmas: a period of the liturgical year that reawakens hope in God’s people. Hope is a basic human need: hope for the future, belief in life, so-called “positive thinking”.

But it is important that this hope be placed in what can really help you to live and give meaning to our existence. This is why Scripture warns us against the false hopes that the world presents to us, exposing their uselessness and demonstrating their foolishness. It does so in various ways, but especially by denouncing the falsehood of the idols in which man is continually tempted to place his trust, making them the object of his hope.

The prophets and scholars in particular insist on this, touching a nerve centre of the believer’s journey of faith. Because faith means trusting in God – those who have faith trust in God — but there’s a moment when, in meeting life’s difficulties, man experiences the fragility of that trust and feels the need for various certainties – for tangible, concrete assurances. I entrust myself to God, but the situation is rather serious and I need a little more concrete reassurance. And there lies the danger! And then we are tempted to seek even ephemeral consolations that seem to fill the void of loneliness and alleviate the fatigue of believing. And we think we can find them in the security that money can give, in alliances with the powerful, in worldliness, in false ideologies.
Sometimes we look for them in a god that can bend to our requests and magically intervene to change the situation and make it as we wish; an idol, indeed, that in itself can do nothing. It is impotent and deceptive. But we like idols; we love them! Once, in Buenos Aires, I had to go from one church to another, a thousand meters, more or less. And I did so on foot. And between them there is a park, and in the park there were little tables, where many, many fortune tellers were sitting. It was full of people who were even waiting in line. You would give them your hand and they’d begin, but the conversation was always the same: ‘there is a woman in your life, there is a darkness that comes, but everything will be fine …’. And then, you paid. And this gives you security? It is the security of – allow me to use the word – nonsense. Going to a seer or to a fortune teller who reads cards: this is an idol! This is the idol, and when we are so attached to them, we buy false hope. Whereas, in that gratuitous hope, which Jesus Christ brought us, freely giving his life for us, sometimes we fail to fully trust.

A Psalm brimming with wisdom depicts in a very suggestive way the falsity of these idols that the world offers for our hope and on which men of all ages are tempted to rely. It is Psalm 115, which is recited as follows:

“Their idols are silver and gold, / the work of men’s hands. / They have mouths, but do not speak; / eyes, but do not see. / They have ears, but do not hear; / noses, but do not smell. / They have hands, but do not feel; / feet, but do not walk; / and they do not make a sound in their throat. / Those who make them are like them; / so are all who trust in them!” (vv. 4-8).

The psalmist also presents to us, a bit ironically, the absolutely ephemeral character of these idols. And we must understand that these are not merely figures made of metal or other materials but are also those we build in our minds: when we trust in limited realities that we transform into absolute values, or when we diminish God to fit our own template and our ideas of divinity; a god that looks like us is understandable, predictable, just like the idols mentioned in the Psalm. Man, the image of God, manufactures a god in his own image, and it is also a poorly realized image. It does not hear, does not act, and above all, it cannot speak. But, we are happier to turn to idols than to turn to the Lord. Many times, we are happier with the ephemeral hope that this false idol gives us, than with the great and sure hope that the Lord gives us.

In contrast to hoping in a Lord of life who, through his Word created the world and leads our existence, [we turn to] dumb effigies. Ideologies with their claim to the absolute, wealth – and this is a great idol – power and success, vanity, with their illusion of eternity and omnipotence, values such as physical beauty and health: when they become idols to which everything is sacrificed, they are all things that confuse the mind and the heart, and instead of supporting life, they lead to death. It is terrible to hear, and painful to the soul: something that once, years ago, I heard in the Diocese of Buenos Aires: a good woman – very beautiful – boasted about her beauty. She said, as if it were natural: ‘Yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is very important’. These are idols, and they lead you down the wrong path, and do not give you happiness.

The message of the Psalm is very clear: if you place hope in idols, you become like them: hollow images with hands that do not feel, feet that do not walk, mouths that cannot speak. You no longer have anything to say; you become unable to help, to change things, unable to smile, to give of yourself, incapable of love. And we, men of the Church, run this risk when we “become mundanized”. We need to abide in the world but defend ourselves from the world’s illusions, which are these idols that I mentioned.

As the Psalm continues, we must trust and hope in God, and God will bestow the blessing. So says the Psalm: “O Israel, trust in the Lord…. O House of Aaron, put your trust in the Lord…. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord…. The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us” (vv. 9, 10, 11, 12).

The Lord always remembers. Even in the bad times he remembers us. And this is our hope. And hope does not disappoint. Never. Never. Idols always disappoint; they are make-believe; they are not real. Here is the wonderful reality of hope: in trusting in the Lord, we become like him. His blessing transforms us into his children who share in his life. Hope in God allows us to enter, so to speak, within the range of his remembrance, of his memory that blesses us and saves us. And it is then that a Hallelujah can burst forth in praise to the living and true God, who was born for us of Mary, died on the Cross and rose again in glory. And in this God we have hope, and this God – who is not an idol – never disappoints.

Do not glamorize evil: Pope Francis

Communicate hope, Pope says in message
On January 24—the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists—the Holy See Press Office released the Pope’s message for the 51st World Communications Day, which takes place on the Sunday before Pentecost.
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In the message—entitled “Fear not, for I am with you (Is. 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time”—Pope Francis writes that “we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news.’”
The Pope instead called for “an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients.”
The message has three sections:
• Good news
• Confidence in the seed of the Kingdom
• The horizons of the Spirit
The Pope concluded:
Those who, in faith, entrust themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit come to realize how God is present and at work in every moment of our lives and history, patiently bringing to pass a history of salvation … Today too, the Spirit continues to sow in us a desire for the Kingdom, thanks to all those who, drawing inspiration from the Good News amid the dramatic events of our time, shine like beacons in the darkness of this world, shedding light along the way and opening ever new paths of confidence and hope.