The pact of the catacombs as lived by Pope Francis
On November 16, 1965, when Vatican Council II (1962-1965) was ending, some bishops, encouraged by Dom Helder Camara, celebrated a Mass in the Catacombs of Saint Domitilla and made the Pact of the Catacombs of the Church, slave and poor. They proposed for themselves ideals of poverty and simplicity, leaving their palaces and living in simple houses or apartments. Now with Pope Francis this pact is gaining real meaning. It is worth remembering the commitments undertaken by the bishops.
«We bishops, gathered in Vatican Council II, conscious of the deficiencies of our lives of poverty according to the Gospels; encouraged each by the others, in an initiative in which each of us would seek to avoid exceptionality and presumption; united with all our brothers in the episcopacy; counting above all on the grace and strength of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the prayers of the faithful and of the priests of our respective dioceses; putting ourselves with thought and prayer before the Trinity, before the Church of Christ, and before the priests and the faithful of our dioceses, with humility and conscious of our weaknesses, but also with all the determination and strength that God wishes to give us as His grace, we commit ourselves to the following:
1) We will undertake to live according to the ordinary way our population lives, in what concerns housing, food, means of transportation and all that follows from that.
2) We renounce for ever the appearances and the reality of wealth, especially in dress (rich textiles, flashy colors, insignia of precious metals). Those symbols must certainly be evangelical: neither gold nor silver.
3) We will posses neither private property nor furniture, no bank accounts, etc., in our name; and if it would be necessary to have them, we will put everything in the name of our dioceses, or of the charitable social organs.
4) Whenever possible we will trust the financial and material issues of our dioceses to competent lay commissions who are conscious of their apostolic role, in the service of being less administrators than pastors and apostles.
5) We will refuse to be called, orally or in writing, by names and titles that imply greatness and power (Eminence, Excellence, Monsignor…). We prefer to be called by the evangelical name of Father.
6) In our behavior and in our social relations we will avoid all that could appear to be concessions to privilege, priorities or any preference for the rich and the powerful (i.e.: banquets offered or accepted, social classes in religious services).
7) Likewise, we will avoid encouraging or flattering the vanity of anyone, with an eye to recompense, or to seeking gifts, or for any other reason. We will invite our faithful to consider their gifts as a normal participation in the cult, the apostolate and social action.
8) We will give all that is necessary of our time, reflection, heart, means, etc. to the pastoral and apostolic service of individuals and labor groups, and the economically weak and underdeveloped, without harming other persons or groups of the diocese. We will support the lay, religious, deacons or priests whom the Lord calls to evangelize the poor and the workers, sharing their life and labor.
9) Conscious of the demands of justice and charity, and of their inter-relationship, we will strive to transform the works of “beneficence” into social works based on charity and justice, that take into account all men and women, as a humble service to competent public organisms.
10) We will do everything possible to see that those responsible for our government and for our public services decide and put into practice the laws, structures and social institutions necessary for justice, equality, and the harmonious and full development of the complete man in all men, and, this way, to bring about a different social order, a new one, worthy of the children of men and of the children of God.
11) Since the collegiality of the bishops finds its best evangelical realization in the service in common with the majorities in a state of physical, cultural and moral misery ―two thirds of humanity― we commit ourselves:
-to participate, according to our means, in the urgent investments of the episcopates of the poor nations;
-to seek together, at the level of the international organisms, always offering the witness of the Gospels as Pope Paul VI did in the United Nations, the adoption of economic and cultural structures that, instead of creating more poor nations in a world that is ever richer, allow the impoverished majorities to escape their misery.
12) We commit ourselves to share our lives, in pastoral charity, with our brothers in Christ, the priests, the religious, and the lay, so that our ministry constitutes a true service; thus:
-we will strive to “review our life” with them;
-we will search for collaborators who are more animators according to the Spirit than chiefs according to the world;
-we will try to make ourselves more humanly present and welcoming;
-we will be open to all, no matter what their religion may be.
13) When we return to our dioceses, we will make known to our diocesan our resolution, asking them to help us with their understanding, their collaboration and their prayers.
May God help us to be faithful».
Are not these the ideals presented by Pope Francis?Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.