Monday, February 24, 2014

Pope Francis to New Cardinals: This Is a Church, Not a Royal Court (3029)

At a consistory attended by Pope Emeritus Benedict, the Holy Father gave the redbiretta to the 19 newest members of the College of Cardinals.

 02/24/2014 Comments (3)
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti receives hisbiretta from Pope Francis during a consistory at St. Peter's Basilica on Feb. 22.
– Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis used his homily at a Mass for new cardinals to hold up a vision of holiness for the19 new recipients of the red biretta, exhorting them to be docile to the Holy Spirit, to love their enemies and to answer the call to conversion.
During the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, he also stressed that each member of the College of Cardinals enters the Church of Rome rather than a royal court.
“A cardinal — I say this especially to you — enters the Church of Rome, my brothers, not a royal court,” the Holy Father told a packed basilica. “May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and partiality.”
He said their language should be that of the Gospel: yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no and that their attitudes should be “those of the beatitudes and our way be that of holiness.”
“Let us pray once more: ‘Merciful Father, by your help, may we be ever attentive to the voice of the Spirit. All of us want to listen to the voice of the Spirit,” the Pope said.
Stressing that without the Holy Spirit all of our efforts are in vain, he exhorted the new cardinals to “make the effort to be converted, to experience a heartfelt conversion.” This is something that “all of us — especially you cardinals and myself — must do,” he said. “Conversion!”
Referring to the day’s Gospel reading from the Book of Matthew, Pope Francis reminded them to love their enemies and to “seek generously to do good to them.”

‘The Quicksand of Sin’
“My brother cardinals, Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table,” he said. “To do that, he would not have had to come down from heaven and die on the cross. Christ came to save us, to show us the way, the only way out of the quicksand of sin and this way of holiness is mercy, that mercy which he has shown and daily continues to show to us.”
“To be a saint is not a luxury,” the Pope added. “It is necessary for the salvation of the world. This is what the Lord is asking of us.”
He stressed that Christians “do not aim to assert ourselves,” but, rather, “oppose arrogance with meekness” and “forget the humiliations that we have endured.” Guided by the Spirit of Christ, he urged the cardinals to be “channels” through which his charity might flow.
“This is the attitude of a cardinal; this must be how he acts,” he said.
The Pope also stressed the importance of “goodness, forgiveness, service” and not to neglect duties towards one’s neighbor. He urged the cardinals not to shut out their brothers or sisters, for then it is God himself who is not being welcomed.
“A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God’s service and given over to another use,” he said.
He closed by calling for unity in Christ and among themselves, and he implored the Holy Spirit, that they may be “ever more fervent in pastoral charity and filled with holiness.”

Always Bear Witness to the Truth
The Pope shared further instructions to the cardinals during the ordinary public consistory on Saturday, urging them not to conform themselves to a worldly mentality but instead to be courageous in proclaiming the Gospel and bearing witness to the truth at all times.
Following the thinking of the world results in “rivalry, jealousy, factions,” the Pope said, but the word of Jesus “purifies us inwardly” and enlightens our consciences “to unite ourselves fully with Jesus.”
As in his Mass homily the next day, he urged the cardinals to allow themselves to be taught by the Holy Spirit and be united in Christ. He also underlined how much the Church needs the cardinals’ cooperation, communion and gifts.
“The Church needs your courage, to proclaim the Gospel at all times, both in season and out of season, and to bear witness to the truth,” the Pope said. “The Church needs your prayer for the progress of Christ’s flock, the prayer that, together with the proclamation of the Word, is the primary task of the bishop.
“The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world. We want to express our spiritual closeness to the ecclesial communities and to all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution.
“The Church needs our prayer for them,” he continued, “that they may be firm in faith and capable of responding to evil with good. And this prayer of ours extends to every man and woman suffering injustice on account of their religious convictions.”
Finally, he said the Church “needs us also to be peacemakers, building peace by our words, our hopes and our prayers: Let us therefore invoke peace and reconciliation for those peoples presently experiencing violence and war.”

Surprise Presence
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI surprised many by also being present at the consistory. Pope Francis warmly embraced his predecessor, who was seated not far from the new cardinals.
Some have speculated whether Benedict XVI will attend the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II on April 27. His presence at Saturday’s consistory has certainly increased the probability that he will.
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pope Francis and The Disposable Garment

By Bishop John Wester

Pope John Paul II, to be canonized on April 27 by Pope Francis, was one of many people who've decried a "culture of death" in recent decades. The description was warranted, but Catholics also believe that natural death is a part of life and can be beautiful and dignified.

So Pope Francis offers an alternative view, in which the problem isn't so much death as it is "a culture of waste," in which everything, even human beings, are treated as disposable commodities when they are no longer "useful." Pope Francis tied this mentality to throwing away excess food at his June 5 general audience and later on Twitter, saying that "throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry." He revisited the "throwaway culture" July 22, en route to Brazil for World Youth Day, this time using the term in reference to society's treatment of young people. He invoked it yet again on September 20, regarding abortion.

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago brought together disparate voices in the Church by showing how our teachings fit together in one "seamless garment." Pope Francis offers the flip side, how the Church's teachings fit together even when the world ignores them. "Pope says wasting food is a sin" may make for entertaining headlines, but it misses the genius of the cohesive Catholic vision Pope Francis offers the world, of how muchCatholic teaching can be encapsulated in this "disposable garment."

It applies to how we relate to:
  • The poor, who have been a focus of Francis' pontificate, explicitly mentioned by the pope as those excluded from society at a local, national and global level.
  • The unborn, whether they are destroyed in the name of convenience or personal freedom with abortion or in the name of scientific progress with embryonic stem cell research.
  • The elderly, sick and disabled, when voices in our society suggest that physician assisted suicide ought to be the law of the land because some lives just aren't worth living.
  • Immigrants, who have been treated as a convenient source of menial labor, but have not been recognized by society or rewarded for their contributions.
  • Workerswho are not a means to an end, profit, but people deserving of a living wage and whose work deepens their sense of human worth.
  • The imprisoned, who are easier to write off and forget, or even dispose of altogether, than to rehabilitate and restore. Pope Francis showed us, through the gesture of washing feet, that these people are still to be loved and supported.
  • The environment, not a commodity to be used up as we please, but something precious, created by God and left in our care.
  • Young people: as Pope Francis has explicitly pointed out, young people are the future, and yet society perpetuates circumstances in which they cannot find jobs and face crushing educational debt.
  • Our relationships: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has spoken frequently of a vocations crisis, not just in the priesthood, but in marriage. Many people treat their marriages as disposable, not as lifelong commitments. Fewer people are bothering to get married at all. News stories profile "hook-up culture" on college campuses in place of young people pursuing lasting relationships.
  • The Internet: Whether it's pornography, a news story or even a meme, the Internet provides endless opportunities to use people as disposable pleasure objects, laugh derisively at them, yell at them or otherwise dismiss them. Digital technology can build up human interconnectivity like never before. It also allows us to demean on a dizzying scale, whether by perpetuating the "rape culture" that trivializes violence toward women or through a political discourse built on demonizing people. Which brings us to...
  • People who are different from us: whether it's unrest in places like Syria and Egypt, conflict between countries or our own discourse, people of different cultures, countries, religions and points of view deserve our respect, not acts of intolerance and violence that degrade or even eliminate them.
  • Our vocations, both religious, personal and professional: Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told members of the Catholic Press in 2012 that a new problem exists in the world today: "people have forgotten how to dream." People have lost the sense that God has a plan for every person. We are not here to waste time, but to pursue the vocation that makes us ever more the person that God intends us to be.
Benedict XVI frequently emphasized all the Church says yes to, because Christianity ultimately is a positive proposition of God loving every person and drawing the entire world to himself through Jesus. For Pope Francis, this means saying yes to a "culture of encounter." To overcome a throwaway culture, every person must go out into the world, encounter other people as more than commodities, and learn to treat everyone with the dignity they deserve. For Catholics, this pervades the teachings of our Church and is fundamental to our ability to encounter Jesus Christ.

Bishop Wester is bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City and chairman of the Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)