Pope shares desire to guide Church to humble service, dialogue

Rome, Italy, Oct 2, 2013 / 01:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a recent interview, Pope Francis shared his vision of a poor, missionary Church that dialogues with the world and serves the needs of the people, as well as his hope for a Roman Curia that is less “Vatican-centric.”

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old,” he said. “The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other…This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

He encouraged a greater awareness of this problem among Church members as well governments and other state actors, and he stressed the need for the selfless love of agape that seeks to serve others.

The Holy Father spoke with atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari in a Sept. 24 interview at his Vatican residence, which was published Oct 1. in the Italian daily La Repubblica.

During the interview, Pope Francis also spoke of the reform he is seeking within the Church.

“(The Curia) has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests,” he said.

“This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us,” the Pope explained. “I do not share this view and I will do everything I can to change it.”

He distinguished between the Church and the Holy See, clarifying that while the Holy See “has an important function,” is it “at the service of the Church.” He further said that within the Vatican, the Roman Curia is a “quartermaster's office” which “manages the services that serve the Holy See.”

The Church, he said, “is, or should go back to being, a community of the people of God and his priests, his pastors and his bishops who have the care of souls, who are at the service of the people of God.”

This discussion of the Roman Curia followed from a distinction between narcissism and charity, which includes a rightly ordered love of God, self, and others. Pope Francis noted in particular that Christ “was incarnate so as to infuse in the souls of men the sentiment of fraternity.”

 Scalfari and Pope Francis agreed that there have been many Church leaders who were narcissists, “flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.”

Pope Francis referred to “the court” as the “leprosy of the papacy.” When questioned about whether this was the Curia, the Pope acknowledged the presence of some “courtiers” in the Curia, but denied that the Curia itself is “the court” he was referencing.

The Roman Pontiff affirmed that the members of his council of eight cardinals, chosen to help advise him on reforming the Curia, are “not courtiers but wise persons, who share my own sentiments.”

“This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not only vertical but also horizontal,” he said.

Both the Holy Father and Scalfari lamented their perception of temporal interests within the Church, and expressed enthusiasm for Pope Francis' vision of a poor, missionary Church.

The Pope tied this vision of the Church to his emphasis on dialogue.

“Our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope,” he said. “We must restore hope to young people, help the elderly, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”

Pope Francis praised Vatican II for its call to ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers, which he said was largely dropped after the Council.

“I have the humility and the ambition to want to do something,” he stated.

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