Catholic / Contemporary / Gospel / History / Pope Francis / Spiritual

Pope Francis refers to “sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” and warns against “theological narcissism”.


refocus its energy on the “peripheries,” not only geographical but existential: sin, suffering, injustice and ignorance.

refocus its energy on the “peripheries,” not only geographical but existential: sin, suffering, injustice and ignorance.

Pope Francis has already warned the Catholic  Cardinals of an “egocentric church”. “The evil which develop in the course of the time in the church institutions have her root in this self-centeredness”, said Jorge Mario Bergoglio according to Radio Vatican before the cardinals. The archbishop of Havana, cardinal Jaime Ortega, has published this “inflammatory speech” against “theological narcissism”.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now pope Francis, gave the notes of this speech to cardinal Jaime Ortega after he asked for a copy. Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of Havana, one of the 115 cardinals that took part in the pre-conclave, recently released to the website of the Catholic magazine Palabra Nueva a handwritten note by Francis outlining the speech he gave at one of the closed-door pre-conclave meetings of cardinals.  L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, also published it. The notes (in Spanish) are  four short and crisp points,  but could outline, just like Pope Benedict’s ” first speech against relativism” in which direction the new pope wants to lead.

  1. Evangelizing supposes apostolic zeal. Evangelize implies that the Church should speak candidly, coming out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only in the geographical sense but also to go to the existential peripheries: those of the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and of religious indifference, of thought, of all misery.
  2. When the Church does not come out of itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and then get sick. The evils that, over time, occur in  ecclesiastical institutions have roots of referentiality, a sort of theological narcissism. In Revelation Jesus says he is at the door and knocks. Obviously the text refers to hitting from outside the door to enter … But think of the times when Jesus knocks from within to let himself out. The self-referential Church seeks Jesus Christ within and does not let him out.
  3. When the Church is self-referential, unwittingly believed to have its own light, no longer the mysterium lunae and leads to the evil that is so serious spiritual worldliness ( My remark: historically always the worst evil that could befall the Catholic Church). That live to give glory from one another.  Put simply, there are two images of Church: the evangelizing Church taking leave of itself which religiously hears the Word of God and faithfully proclaims it (Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans)or the worldly Church living in itself, of itself, for itself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms that must be done for the salvation of souls.
  4. Thinking about the next pope: a man who, from the contemplation of Jesus Christ and from worshiping Jesus Christ helps the Church out of itself to the outskirts of the existential, that helps Her to be a fruitful Mother, living “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.

Everybody expects evangelizing from the  “peripheries”, which has become one of the important themes of Francis’ pontificate — and this speech may have paved the way for his choice as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s successor . Bergoglio’s warning that when the church becomes too inward looking, it suffers from “theological narcissism”, is indeed an echo of Pope Benedict’s famous Freiburg speech, in which he asked the German clerics for “Entweltlichung ( reverse spiritual worldliness)” meaning to evangelize instead succumb to  secularism and to get out of their cleric comfort zone. Uuneasy they shuffled words around after that a bit, tried to forget soon and continued with their usual modernization laments from the (supposedly) navel of the world.  It is about time that the church refocuses its energy on and from the “peripheries,” not only geographical ( regarding pentecostal)  but also essentials sin, suffering, injustice and ignorance.  Doing that, the discussion of involvement from lay(wo)men will fall in a pragmatic place and the discussion about gender (preferences) will and may go 10 notches down in priority.

With all due respect, those interesting events seems to indicated move in the right direction:  Evangelization – It is the reason for the Church.

It is  almost the end of the Lent,  Tomorrow is the darkest Friday, but soon there will Easter.

Reference was made to the – “The sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Paul VI). – It is the same Jesus Christ who, from within, drives us.

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