Pope's selfie

The first papal selfie

The recent interview of Pope Francis has caused quite a stir. To say the least. It was conducted by Fr Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit, on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica (the Italian Jesuit journal of which he is the editor in chief), America, and several other major Jesuit journals around the world.

There’s quite a lot of reporting and analysis, on and offline. I’ll just focus on a few things that are dear to my heart [with the Pope’s words indented].

Christian emPHAsis so often appears to be on the wrong syLLAble! When people think of Christianity, many can be forgiven for thinking Christians are kill-joys; preoccupied with anti-sex attitudes (that also often actually hide abusive, damaging obsessions).

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

popesselfieThe dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

Even when liturgy is discussed or celebrated the emphasis can too quickly fall on a rubrical fundamentalism disconnected from its relational heart.

If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists­—they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.

The medium is the message. The papacy was seen as compromised and collusive, engrossed with the number of candles on the altar, reviving vesture of archaeological interest, and red shoes.

I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner… I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I ​​am one who is looked upon by the Lord. I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By Having Mercy and by Choosing Him], was very true for me… [T]his is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”

God is active in today’s world. The mission of God has a church – but if the church does not align with, embody, and further God’s mission, God’s action will continue nonetheless.

[T]here is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God. The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is—these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defense. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.

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