Chaput: Pope Francis is the Medicine the Church Needs

 

Is Pope Francis God’s instrument for leading us away from “tepid Christianity” and “mediocrity in our faith?”


Archbishop Charles Chaput thinks so.


Overwhelming percentages of practicing Catholics are like me — delighted with our new pope. However, there is disquiet in some quarters, mostly from people who loved the symbols of high office which Pope Francis has eschewed. The people I know who feel this way are certainly not “tepid” Catholics. They are far better Catholics than I am or ever will be. They are also people who loved the pomp and feel the loss of it keenly. 


Painful as it is for them, I think that Pope Francis is teaching us a necessary lesson. He is teaching us what the symbols mean. He is pulling back the curtain on the symbolism to show us the reality behind it, and that reality is Christ. “I didn’t come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” Jesus said. In the same way His vicar on earth is not destroying the richness of the Church, he is teaching us what it means.

We are faced with virulent secularism and aggressively marketed moral and social destruction in the West; violent persecution and death-dealing exploitation, poverty and war in much of the rest of the world.


We need a pope who will preach Christ. I don’t know how to say it more directly than that. This world needs Christ and Him crucified. 


The Church is a church of metaphor and symbol. In some ways, the Church itself is a metaphor. I get that. But, if people focus on the metaphor to the point that they begin to take it literally, then that becomes a kind of idolatry. The symbols and the metaphor all point to the living Christ Who was crucified for our sins and Who offers us the gift of eternal life.

Pope Francis is not only pulling away the curtain to show us what lies behind the symbols, he is talking to us about the realities of the devil and hell. I will write about this more later, but our new pope is not afraid to refer to the “evil one” as the father of lies and the machinator behind many of our worst impulses. 

Archbishop Chaput talks about the “tepid Christianity we find in the northern hemisphere.” I couldn’t agree more. The purpose of this blog is to offer whatever assistance I can in equipping Christians to stand for Jesus. As a catechism-following, Jesus-loving, pro-life Democratic office holder, I have the unique perspective of often having been the much-maligned tip of the sword on social issues. I also have the perspective of one who has seen and experienced the almost militant indifference of Christians to what is happening in the world.

“Tepid” is too kind. Snoozing in our beds and refusing to be wakened is more to the point. I love the liturgy and the mass, not because of the vestments and the beautiful Church, but because it is an hour-long (or 30 minutes long for daily mass) prayer. I love the mass because it re-enacts Calvary, because it takes us to the foot of the cross and then beyond it to our redemption. I love the mass because the healing touch of Jesus is there in the Eucharist.

For far too many people, the form has become more important than the reality. People who focus on the form rather than the substance are too often substituting the form for the substance.

All we have to do to turn this world around is follow Christ. To do that, we need a pope, bishops and priests who preach Christ. Pope Francis is doing exactly that. I thank God for him.

Excerpts from Archbishop Chaput’s interview with Vatican Insider are below.


When he was elected Pope, Francis said that he comes from the “end of the world”. What did he mean?

“In our day and age the Gospel is preached in every corner of the Earth. God’s family of faith is one body, one people, intimately connected by the love of Jesus Christ, no matter where in the world we come from. The new Pope is living proof of this. He comes quite literally from the other side of world.”


What is the importance of him being from Argentina? Will the hispanic community play a central role in the Church of the XXI century? What changes will this imply for the U.S. Catholic Church

“Maybe God is telling us that the kind of tepid Christianity we find in the northern hemisphere is no longer vigorous enough to face the challenges the Church is faced with.”


Cardinal Bergoglio is very atypical, in that he never held a position in the Roman Curia, he has never wanted a car or a chef and he takes the bus…What does all this mean in your opinion?
 

“Less is more. Simplicity and humility, when they’re combined with intelligence and courage, make a very powerful medicine for the soul. I think this Pope is just the medicine we need as a Church.”


Why did Bergoglio choose the name Francis? Was it because St. Francis rebuilt the Church of Jesus? Does this mean that the Curia acknowledges that the Church needs to be rebuilt in some way?

“”Repair my house” were the words Jesus addressed to St. Francis from the cross of St. Damian. The issues of reform, renewal and repair: All of these things probably figured into the new Pope’s choice of a name … people have a mistaken image of Francis of Assisi … He was certainly “counter-cultural” - but only in his radical poverty; his radical obedience to the Church; and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully, including all of its uncomfortable demands. That’s the kind of purity that leads to a genuine rebuilding of Church life …


Liberal groups, particularly here in the U.S., are really concerned about the cardinals’ choice of Pope. Even Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said that his position is reminiscent of medieval times. What you think?

“Words like “liberal” and “conservative” are hopelessly misleading when we speak about Catholic belief. There’s no way of separating love for the poor from love for an unborn child. Defense of the oppressed and marginalized and defense of the family, the nature of marriage and the unborn child spring from exactly the same Catholic commitment to human dignity. There is nothing “progressive” about killing an unborn human child in the womb. And there is nothing redeemably “orthodox” or “conservative” about ignoring the cries of the poor.”

(Read the rest here.) 

 


The Lord Loves Us So Much, He Gave Us This Immense Gift

“The Lord loves us so much, He gave us this immense gift.”

That’s how retired Cardinal Estanisiao Karlic of Argentina describes the election of his friend, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the Papacy.

Cardinal Karlic says that Pope Francis “carries in his heart the message of the Gospel so that it be spread throughout the world and received by all men and women, that it may infuse in us a missionary and evangelical spirit, to the ends of the earth, such that there be no place in the world where the name of Jesus is not heard.”

 

The Holy Father “is a very simple man” who is “capable of confronting the simplest and also the most complex of issues,” Cardinal Karlic continued.

“He is a man of reflection who puts his wisdom into action. He did so first in leading the Jesuits, later in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, and now in leading the Church as the Supreme Pontiff.”

.- The retired cardinal of Parana, Argentina, described his friend Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – as an able pastor with the heart of a missionary.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic said it was a “huge surprise” to see his friend appear on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica dressed in white.

“The Lord loves us so much, he gave us this immense gift.”

“I pray to God that I will not forget that moment so that I can thank him and so that I can pray for our beloved brother Jorge whom we will now call Francis,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Karlic said Pope Francis will help everyone “understand once again that we all have something to give to others, we all have something to receive from others.”

This is true, he said, “because the truth of God, of the Church, of humanity, is communion among those who love each other as brothers and sisters, as individuals, as families, as nations.”

The Holy Father “is a very simple man” who is “capable of confronting the simplest and also the most complex of issues,” Cardinal Karlic continued.

“He is a man of reflection who puts his wisdom into action. He did so first in leading the Jesuits, later in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, and now in leading the Church as the Supreme Pontiff.” (Read the rest here.)

Pope Keeps Motto Inspired by His Call to the Priesthood

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was  a 17-year-old boy who had just finished going to confession. 

“… his heart was touched and (he) felt the descent of the mercy of God, that with eyes of tender care, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St Ignatius of Loyola.”

The motto he adopted as bishop, “miserando atque eligendo,” means “having had mercy, he called him.” It reflects the Holy Father’s call to the priesthood when he was 17 and is based on the call that Jesus issued to Matthew the tax collector.

The Holy Father will also keep the coat of arms that he adopted in Buenos Aires. The only changes are that he will add the papal keys and the papal mitre to the image.

The following article from CNA/EWTN News has details:

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2013 CNA/EWTN News – Pope Francis decided this morning that he would keep both the motto and coat of arms that he used during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.The motto has “a particular meaning in life and spiritual journey of the Pope,” a March 18 statement from the Vatican press office says. “In fact, on the feast of St. Matthew in 1953, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio experienced at the age of 17-years-old, in a very special way, the loving presence of God in his life. “Following a confession, his heart was touched and felt the descent of the mercy of God, that with eyes of tender love, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” the communiqué explained. The motto, “miserando atque eligendo,” was inspired by St. Bede the Venerable’s commentary on Matthew’s Gospel. The particular passage that spoke to Pope Francis was Jesus seeing Matthew the tax collector, “looked at him with love and said ‘Follow me.’” “The Latin motto stands for “having had mercy, he called him.” Mercy has been a particular theme of Pope Francis in his homilies and reflections. Most recently he spoke about mercy in his March 17 Sunday Angelus address, reminding the packed piazza that “the Lord never gets tired of forgiving, it is we that get tired of asking forgiveness.”

The Pope’s coat of arms is also the same as the one he adopted in Buenos Aires, with the exception of the papal keys and the papal mitre crowning the image. (Read the rest here.)

Who is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio?

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Pope Francis I: Takes the Bus, Supports the Poor, A Stalwart Battler for Life, Traditional Marriage and Evangelization

 

Our new Holy Father chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace when he was Cardinal Bergoglio. He also cooked his own meals and took a bus to work instead of using his chauffeured limousine. 

This son of a railway worker has four brothers and sisters. He wanted to be a chemist and has a degree in chemistry. But God intervened in this plan and he entered the Society of Jesus instead. He is an intellectual who studied theology in Germany and who defended the poor in Argentina’s economic crises of a few years ago.

During the military junta in Argentina, Father Bergoglio worked in the position he had then as head of a seminary to oppose the so-called “liberation theology” and insist on what an article for the National Catholic Reporter called a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into ‘base communities’ and political activism.

He is unwavering in his support of traditional Catholic teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. At the same time, he has dealt compassionately with victims of HIV-AIDS, going so far as to visit a hospice and kiss and wash the feet of AIDS patients. In September 2012, he accused priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock of a form of “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.”

Here are a few comments Pope Francis I has made:

  • Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord.” 
  • … if the Church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. 
  • On the Unjust Distribution of Goods The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many.
  • On baptizing children born out of wedlock In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl, who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it’s baptized!
  • On Evangelization 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. 
  • On Abortion We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. The responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors and health professionals. 
  • On the death penalty We aren’t in agreement with the death penalty.
  • On gay marriage Let us not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

For sources, check here, here, here and here.

Pope Francis I: Powerfully Pro Life

Pundits who were pushing for a pope who would abandon 2,000 years of Catholic teaching and go chasing after the moral fashions of the world will probably be disappointed in Pope Francis I.

The new Holy Father has a decades-long record of supporting the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and the Gospel support of the poor. For instance, he called abortion a “death penalty” for unborn children in a 2007 speech.

The LifeNews.com article describing this says in part:

The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio … once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.

In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty.  A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.” …

… The remarks came during the presentation of a document called the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America.

The new pontiff also denounced euthanasia and assisted suicide, calling it a “culture of discarding” the elderly. (Read the rest here.)


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