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Letter of Support to Pope Francis, who was very glad with this letter

06/12/2015

Dear Pope Francis:

In Brazil, the Caribbean, in all of Latin America, and in other parts of the world, there are many who follow with concern the strong opposition and the attacks on you by small, but powerful, conservative minorities from both within and outside of the Church. Perplexed, we have seen something unusual during recent centuries: a rebellion of conservative cardinals against your way of conducting the Synod and, above all, the Universal Church.

That group of cardinals wrote you a strictly personal letter that was leaked to the press and published, as occurred with your encyclical letter Laudato Si’, before it was released, in clear violation of the principles of ethical journalism.

These conservative groups seek to return to a model of the Church from the past, conceived of more as a closed fortress than as «a working hospital with open doors to welcome all those who come»; a Church that must «seek and make company with the humanity of today with open doors, because with closed doors, she betrays herself and her mission and instead of being a bridge, she becomes a barrier». These were your courageous words.

The pastoral approach of the type of Church your speeches and symbolic gestures propose are characterized by warm love, by a living encounter among persons and with Christ present among us, by limitless mercy, by a “revolution of tenderness” and by a pastoral conversion. This implies that the pastor must bear the “odor of sheep”, because the pastor lives with the sheep and accompanies them during their entire journey.

We lament that what such conservative groups do best is to say no. No to communion for those who divorced and remarried; no to recognition of the homo-affective; no to any opening to the world that may imply substantive changes.

We must remind these brothers of the more obvious aspects of the message of Jesus. He did not come to say no. To the contrary, He came to say yes. Saint Paul, in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, reminds us that “in the Son of God all has been yes … because all God’s promises are yes in Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1,20).

In the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus explicitly says: “If someone comes to me I will never reject him” (John 6,37). It could be a prostitute, a leper, or a frightened theologian such as Nicodemus: He welcomes all with His love and mercy.

The fundamental features of the God of Jesus, “Abba”, are His infinite mercy (Luke 6,36) and His preferential love for the poor, for the sick, and for the sinners (Luke 5,32; 6,21).

More than founding a new religion with pious parishioners, Jesus came to teach us to live and bring to life the tenets of His central message, the kingdom of God, namely: love, compassion, forgiveness, solidarity, a hunger and thirst for justice, and for us to sense that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God.

The attempts to deny legitimacy to your way of being, as the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Universal Church, will be in vain because nothing can resist the goodness and tenderness of which you are giving us such a splendid example. Through history, we know that when power prevails, as they would like it to prevail, love disappears and mercy is extinguished – eliminating the central values preached by you, and by Jesus.
In this context, we Christians who are open to the challenges of the present world, to facing up to the new planetary phase of history and the threats that weigh down the life-system and the Earth-system, courageously addressed in your encyclical letter Laudato Si’ on “the Caring for the Common Home,” want to close ranks around you and show our total support for your person and your ministry, for your pastoral vision of an open Church, and for the charismatic form by which you make us feel once again that the Church is our spiritual home. And many people from other Churches and religions and from the secular world support and admire you for your manner of acting and speaking.

Much meaning can be found in the fact that the great majority of Catholics live in the Americas, in Africa and in Asia, where one sees great vitality and creativity in the dialogue with the different cultures that reflect the multiple faces of the same Church of Christ. The Catholic Church is now a Church of the Third World, because only 25% of Catholics live in Europe. The future of the Church is unfolding in these regions, where the Spirit blows with great strength. Not to see this fact is to continue being Euro- and Vatican-centered.

The Catholic Church cannot be hostage to the Occidental culture. That is a regional culture, no matter how big and important its accumulated merits may be. The Church must stop being Occidental, and open herself to the process of being worldwide, one that favors encounters among cultures and spiritual paths.

Dear Pope Francis: You are a participant in the destiny of the Master and of the Apostles, who also were misunderstood, slandered and persecuted.

But we are tranquil because we know that you accept such tribulations in accordance with the spirit of the beatitudes. You endure them with humility. You ask for forgiveness for the sins of the Church, and follow in the footsteps of the Nazarene.

We want to be close to you, support you in your evangelical and liberating vision of the Church, to give you the inner courage and strength to modernize, with words and gestures, the tradition of Jesus, that is comprised of love, mercy, compassion, intimacy with God and solidarity with the suffering humanity.

Finally, dear Pope Francis, continue showing us all that the Gospel is for humanity, that the Christian message is an inspiring force in “caring for the Common Home” and a small forerunner of an Earth reconciled with herself, with all of humanity, with nature and especially with the Father who displayed the characteristics of a Mother of infinite goodness and tenderness.

In the end, together we will be able to say: “all is very good” (Genesis 1,31).

The Pope Francis was very glad to receive this support, according voices from Vatican

A translation from the Spanish sent by
Leonardo Boff, lboff@leonardoboff.com.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.

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