This is a new message not only, but especially for Catholic Church officials in Rome and Germany. Many of them have long cultivated a lifestyle oriented toward strict dogmas, spiritual void and a career within the church, as despised from the former Pope Benedict XVI. But now that his successor arrives at meetings in an old car, they have seen this as non-fundamental shift. Pope Benedict was alienated, as many Roman Catholics were, by the busy Church bureaucracy. A cozy State Church, living well from concordat, sings along with the entrenched party politicians. It took Pope Francis a while to address “ailments” of the Vatican Curia and the spiritual deaf Western Church. Francis begged this Christmas pardon for the “shortcomings” of senior church leaders, as well as the “several scandals” that had “caused so much harm”. Like Pope Benedict XVI in his famous speech in Freiburg a few years ago, Pope Francis denounced the worldliness of ladder-climbing clerics, those who indulge in hypocritical double lives, and lamented a sense of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” of his clerics. 2014 is a somber year. As you can see, I included Pope Francis’ Twitter timeline, but until today few of his tweets were newsworthy. I am still at odds with his communication style and not sure where he is going. Anyway, the 15 alignments are a long – correct – list, but somewhat not very concise:
- Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticise itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”
- Working too hard. It is the disease of those who, like Martha in the Gospel, “lose themselves in their work, inevitably neglecting what is better; sitting at Jesus’ feet.” The Pope said that Jesus called on his disciples to “rest a little”, because neglecting necessary rest brings anxiety and stress.
- Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”
- Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”
- Working without co-ordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head ‘I’m in charge.'”
- Having ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.’ “We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord … in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”
- Being rivals or boastful.“When one’s appearance, the colour of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”
- Suffering from ‘existential schizophrenia.’ “It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”
- Committing the ‘terrorism of gossip.’ “It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”
- Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honour people who aren’t God.”
- Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”
- Having a ‘funereal face.’ “In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”
- Wanting more.“When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”
- Forming ‘closed circles’ that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad – scandals – especially to our younger brothers.”
- Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”
Is that really the whole problem?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. At the time, when he was a new pope, we thought our prayers were answered – a non-European was elected. A Jesuit who appears spiritual, taking charge, connecting , ascetic, conservative, even holy. His first appearance was breathtaking. He seemed to knows how to run a tight ship as Jesuit. In choosing Francis, 76, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the cardinals seemed to have sent a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the fast growing bulk of the world’s Catholics not in the bickering, secular church of Europe. See Phillip Jenkins: In the long run Christ wins out – the next Christendom. Jenkins argues that a ‘Christian revolution’ is already underway in the developing world, one that our political leaders ignore to the peril of all of us: “We are currently living through one of the transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide. – ” The Christian center of gravity has shifted to Africa, Asia, and Latin America “By 2050, only about 1/5 of the world’s 3 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic Whites.” “The era of Western Christianity has passed within our lifetimes….” “The emerging Christian world will be anchored in the Southern continents.” That is not what I see today. We see persecution and terror.
Pope Francis is a Jesuit, an order which fell in disgrace under Johannes Paul II but were brought back in the folder by Benedict XVI. The famous intellectual and tough missionary order, “gods Marines”. Jesuits, founded 1534, helped Counter-Reformation and have always stood on the side of enlightenment. This is a great continuity from the spiritual pope Johannes Paul II and the outstanding theologian Benedict XVI, who wanted to connect science and Catholicism – but at the same time in Europe to rather have a smaller church than a worldly, opportunistic organisation which runs after the Zeitgeist.Pope Francis was known to be conservative on spiritual issues . He somewhat muddles through abortion, same-sex marriage and supports celibacy. However, according to the National Cathedral Reporter’s John Allen, “he’s no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities.” He assailed priests who refused to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” Bergoglio has also displayed sympathy for HIV-AIDS victims — Thera are reports that in 2001, Bergoglio visited a hospice to kiss the feet of a dozen AIDS patients. Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina’s capital. When he considers social outreach to be the essential business of the church, is that not spiritual deaf also?.
He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes. “Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit,” Bergoglio told Argentina’s priests once.
He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback”. Exact quotes vary, but The Guardian UK quotes Bergoglio as saying of an Argentinian marriage bill:
“Let’s not be naive: this isn’t a simple political fight, it’s an attempt to destroy God’s plan.”
The biographer Rubin obtained an extremely rare interview of Bergoglio for his biography, the The Jesuit. He said this:
“Is Bergoglio a progressive – a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes,” Rubin said
What is his stand today on the family ? What on capitalism running havov? What on persecution of Christians?
The Lord put it clearly: you cannot serve two masters. You have to choose between God and money.
“Francis rebuilt the church” a quote to St. Francis from Pope Francis. I somewhat still have to see it. Pope Benedict the XVI said: “There is so much noise in the world! May we learn to be silent to listen in our hearts and before God”. Fans of the Philosopher Pope Benedict XVI, saw their influence waning, as much of what had been valuable and important to them is now frowned upon from the Church bureaucracy more openly. On the other hand the so-called reformist camp, a sorry lot of old men, weak in spiritual achievements and virtues, has yet to explain itself. Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, systematically opposed them. Now the remaining liberal priests are only gradually coming out of the woods and the role of Pope Francis is not clear (to me). Benedicts XVI ’s speech to lay Catholics 2011 in Freiburg was frank and to the point:
Allow me to refer here to an aspect of Germany’s particular situation. The Church in Germany is superbly organized. But behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in a living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective. See here for full speech.