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Pope Francis: a Church emerging: from what to what?

21/07/2015

Still celebrating the extraordinary encyclical on “caring for the Common Home”, we reflect again on an important perspective of Pope Francis, a true expression of his understanding of the Church as “a Church emerging.” This phrase carries a veiled criticism of the previous model of the Church. It was a “jailed” Church, given the various moral and financial scandals that forced Pope Benedict XVI to resign, a Church that had lost her most important asset: morality and credibility among Christians and the secular world.

But the concept of a “jailed Church” has a deeper meaning, made possible because it comes from a Pope outside the institutional sectors of the old and tired European Christianity. This had encased the Church in an understanding that had rendered it unacceptable to the moderns, a hostage to fossilized traditions and with a message that did not address the problems of Christians and the world today. The “Church emerging” marks a break with that state of affairs. The word “break” annoys the representatives of the ecclesiastic establishment, but that does not make it less true. Then the question comes: “emerging” from what and to what?

Let’s examine some steps:

-Emerging from a Fortress-Church that shielded the faithful from modern liberties to a Field-Hospital-Church that cares for all those who come to her, without regard to moral or ideological matters.

-Emerging from a self-centered Absolutist Institution-Church, towards a Movement-Church, open to universal dialogue with other Churches, religions and ideologies.

-Emerging from a Hierarchy-Church, creator of inequalities, towards a People of God-Church that turns everyone into brothers or sisters: an immense fraternal community.

-Emerging from an Ecclesiastic Authority-Church, distanced from the faithful or even denying them, towards a Pastor-Church that walks among the people, merciful, and with the odor of sheep.

-Emerging from a Papal Church of all Christians and Bishops, that governs with rigorous canonical right, to become a Bishop of Rome-Church, who presides in charity and only from that charity does he become Pope of the universal Church.

-Emerging from a Teacher of Doctrines and Norms-Church, to a Church of surprising practices and affectionate encounters with people beyond their religious, moral or ideological affiliations. The existential peripheries gain centrality.

-Emerging from a Church of sacred power, pomp and circumstance, pontifical palaces and Renaissance nobility titles, towards a Church of and for the poor, divested of symbols of honor, a servant, and prophetic voice against the system of accumulation of wealth, the idol that causes suffering and misery, and kills people.

-Emerging from a Church that speaks of the poor, to a Church that goes to the poor, talks with the poor, embraces and defends the poor.

-Emerging from a Church-equally distant from the political and economic systems towards a Church that takes sides in favor of the victimized, and calls out by name those responsible for the injustices, and invites representatives of world social movements to Rome, to discuss with them how to find alternatives.

-Emerging from a Self-magnifying and uncritical-Church towards a Church that is truthful about herself and against those Cardinals, Bishops and theologians who are jealous of their status but with a “vinegar or Good Friday” face, “sad as if they were going to their own funeral”; to a Church that is at last comprised of human beings.

-Emerging from a Church of order and rigor towards a Church of the revolution of tenderness, mercy and caring.

-Emerging from a Church of the devout, as those who appear in television programs, with performing priest artists of the religious market, towards a Church committed to social justice and the liberation of the oppressed.

-Emerging from a Church-obedience and reverence towards a Church-joy from the Gospel and still with hope for this world.

-Emerging from a Church-without the world that allowed the appearance of a world without a Church, towards a Church-World, sensitive to the problems of ecology and the future of our Common Home, Mother Earth.

These and other examples show that the Church is not reduced to being just a religious mission, stuck in a small part of reality. The Church also possesses a socio-political mission in the best sense of the term, as a source of inspiration for the needed transformations that may lift humanity towards a civilization of love and compassion, one less individualistic, materialistic, cynical and lacking in solidarity.

This Church-on her way out has returned joy and hope to Christians and regained the sense of being a spiritual home. For her simplicity, divesting and welcoming with love and tenderness, she has gained the affection of many people of other confessions, of common citizens of the world and even of heads of State who admire the figure of Pope Francis and his surprising practices in favor of peace, dialogue among the peoples, of the renunciation of all violence and war.

More than doctrine and dogma, the Tradition of Jesus is comprised of unconditional love, mercy and compassion, that is actualized and reveals its inexhaustible humanizing energy through Him. Truly, among other things, this is the central message of Jesus, acceptable to all people from all corners of the world.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, alfaro_melina@yahoo.com.ar,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

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