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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Monday, 1 April 2013

THE POPE.S WORDS TO THE CARDINALS BEFORE THE CONCLAVE & HOLY WEEK, WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE POPE?



ROME, March 27, 2013 – It is a widespread opinion, confirmed by numerous testimonies, that the intention of electing pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio grew substantially among the cardinals on the morning of Saturday, March 9, when the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires spoke at the second to last of the congregations - covered by secrecy - that preceded the conclave.

His words made an impression on many. Bergoglio spoke off the cuff. But we now have the account of those words of his, written by the hand of the author himself.

Bergoglio's remarks in the preconclave were made public by the cardinal of Havana, Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, in the homily of the chrism Mass that he celebrated on Saturday, March 23 in the cathedral of the capital of Cuba, in the presence of the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop  Bruno Musarò, of the auxiliary bishops Alfredo Petit and Juan de Dios Hernandez, and of the clergy of the diocese.

Cardinal Ortega recounted that after the remarks of Bergoglio in the preconclave, he had approached him to ask if he had a written text that he could keep.

Bergoglio responded that at the moment he did not have one. But the following day - Ortega recounted - "with extreme delicacy” he gave him “the remarks written in his own hand as he recalled them."

Ortega asked him if he could release the text, and Bergoglio said yes.

The cardinal of Havana renewed the request on March 13 after the end of the conclave, when the archbishop of Buenos Aires had been elected to the chair of Peter. And Pope Francis renewed his authorization.

So on March 26, the photocopy of Bergoglio's manuscript and its transcription in Spanish appeared on the website of “Palabra Nueva," the magazine of the archdiocese of Havana.

Bergoglio's notes are presented in their entirety further below.

In them can be recognized some recurrent traits in his initial preaching as pope. “Spiritual worldliness” as “the worst evil of the Church.” The Church's duty to “come out from itself” in order to evangelize the “peripheries, not only geographical, but existential.”

As on other occasions, here as well Bergoglio borrows the expression “spiritual worldliness” from the Jesuit Henri De Lubac,  one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, made a cardinal in his later years by John Paul II.

In his book “Meditations on the Church,” De Lubac defines spiritual worldliness as “the greatest danger, the most perfidious temptation, that which always reemerges insidiously when all the others have been overcome, even being fostered by these same victories.”

And he continues:

"If this spiritual worldliness were to invade the Church and work to corrupt it by attacking it at its very origin, this would be infinitely more disastrous than any other sort of simply moral worldliness. Even worse than the infamous leprosy that, in certain moments of history, has so cruelly disfigured the beloved Bride [the Church - editor's note] when gratification seemed to bring the scandal into her very sanctuary and, represented by a libertine pope, has obscured the face of Christ under precious stones, makeup and beauty marks. . . A subtle humanism inimical to the living God - and, in secret, no less inimical to man - can establish itself in us through a thousand subterfuges."

This citation from De Lubac is in evidence in an article that Bergoglio wrote in 1991 when he was an ordinary Jesuit priest, republished and given in 2005 to the faithful and to the citizens of Buenos Aires, of which he had become archbishop, and now reappears in the first of the books printed in Italy with the texts of the new pope from before his election, entitled: “Guarire dalla corruzione."

Another significant citation in the notes by Bergoglio is where he points out the dangers to the Church when it ceases to be “mysterium lunae."

The "mystery of the moon” is a formula that the Fathers of the Church repeatedly used beginning in the second century to suggest what might be the true nature of the Church and the action that is appropriate to it: like the moon, “the Church shines not with its own light, but with that of Christ” ("fulget Ecclesia non suo sed Christi lumine"), St. Ambrose says. While for Cyril of Alexandria, “the Church is enveloped in the divine light of Christ, which is the only light in the kingdom of souls. There is therefore a single light: in this one light nonetheless shines also the Church, which is not however Christ himself.” 

On this theme and with the title of “Mysterium lunae" a fundamental book was written in 1939 by another Jesuit, Hugo Rahner, a distinguished patrologist.

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EVANGELIZING THE PERIPHERIES

by  Jorge Mario Bergoglio

(thanks to Dave Brown)

Reference has been made to evangelization. This is the Church's reason for being. “The sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Paul VI). It is Jesus Christ himself who, from within, impels us.

1) Evangelizing implies apostolic zeal. Evangelizing presupposes in the Church the “parresia" of coming out from itself. The Church is called to come out from itself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographical, but also existential: those of the mystery of sin, of suffering, of injustice, those of ignorance and of the absence of faith, those of thought, those of every form of misery.

2) When the Church does not come out from itself to evangelize it becomes self-referential and gets sick (one thinks of the woman hunched over upon herself in the Gospel). The evils that, in the passing of time, afflict the ecclesiastical institutions have a root in self-referentiality, in a sort of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is standing at the threshold and calling. Evidently the text refers to the fact that he stands outside the door and knocks to enter. . . But at times I think that Jesus may be knocking from the inside, that we may let him out. The self-referential Church presumes to keep Jesus Christ within itself and not let him out.

3) The Church, when it is self-referential, without realizing it thinks that it has its own light; it stops being the “mysterium lunae" and gives rise to that evil which is so grave, that of spiritual worldliness (according to De Lubac, the worst evil into which the Church can fall): that of living to give glory to one another. To simplify, there are two images of the Church: the evangelizing Church that goes out from itself; that of the “Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans" [the Church that devoutly listens to and faithfully proclaims the Word of God - editor's note], or the worldly Church that lives in itself, of itself, for itself. This should illuminate the possible changes and reforms to be realized for the salvation of souls.

4) Thinking of the next Pope: a man who, through the contemplation of Jesus Christ and the adoration of Jesus Christ, may help the Church to go out from itself toward the existential peripheries, that may help it to be the fecund mother who lives “by the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

Rome, March 9, 2013

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English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.




First Holy Week for Francis
Powerful gestures. Simplified rituals. A week that has revealed the style of the new pope. But has also raised some questions that have gone unanswered 

by Sandro Magister







ROME, April 1, 2013 – The first Holy Week of Pope Francis has revealed his style even more. In celebration, in preaching, in presence.

The decision to celebrate the Mass "in coena Domini" of Holy Thursday among the inmates of the juvenile detention facility of Casal del Marmo, washing the feet of twelve of them, including those of a Muslim young woman, is likely to serve as a lesson. It has fallen, moreover, on terrain already fertile, because gestures of this kind are not rare. On Good Friday, in Lyon, France, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin went to pray among a group of Romani (gypsies) expelled from a camp dismantled by the authorities. In São Paulo, Brazil, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer took the passion of Jesus in procession through the notorious neighborhood of Carcolandia.

What rather remains without answer is the question about two apparently contrasting attitudes assumed by pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the debut of his pontificate.

At Casal del Marmo, he was not afraid to offer to non-Christian young people as well the celebration of the Mass, “culmen et fons" of the life of the Church.

While at the audience of March 16 with journalists he declined to speak the words and make the gesture of blessing, “since many of you," he said, “do not belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers.”

*

In preaching, Pope Francis has confirmed his concentration on a few essential words, in a form that is certainly effective from the point of view of communication.

In the homily for Palm Sunday, the key passage was where he described the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem as that of a king whose “royal throne is the wood of the cross.”

In the very brief homily for Holy Thursday at Casal del Marmo, he dwelt upon the significance of service of the washing of the feet.

In the homily for the Easter Vigil, the culminating passage was the following:

"Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do."

In any case, the richest and most profound and evocative homily among those pronounced by Pope Francis in the past Holy Week was that for the Chrism Mass of Thursday morning.

The “people” liturgically loaded onto the shoulders of the priest who celebrates, the “peripheries” of the cities and the hearts touched by the messianic oil, the pastors who must take “the odor of the sheep” are images that remain successfully imprinted.

"L'Osservatore Romano" of March 30 revealed that the text of this homily for the Chrism Mass, “with the exception of some additions,” was the same one that Bergoglio had "prepared before he was elected pope and had delivered to his collaborators before leaving for the conclave,” so much so that it was also read at the Chrism Mass celebrated in the cathedral of Buenos Aires.

*

As for the “ars celebrandi," in the liturgies of Holy Week at St. Peter's there was noted a more elevated respect for the symbolism and the splendor of the rituals than that seen at work in the Mass for the beginning of the pontificate.

Here as well, however, with abbreviations that were not always understandable. In particular, it was not clear why at the Easter Vigil, after the singing of the Exultet, the biblical readings were cut to the bone and the first was literally mutilated, with the account of the six days of creation limited to the creation of man alone.

That brevity which in some contexts can find justification and is in effect provided for by the missal made no obvious sense in an Easter Vigil presided over by the pope and attended - in person or via transmission - by a highly motivated faithful people, who were deprived of the fullness of that narration of the “historia salutis" which the liturgy illuminates, on this culminating night of the year, with the lighting of the Easter candle.

In one of his memorable passages, Romano Guardini described the celebration of the Easter liturgy in the basilica of Monreale, Sicily, packed with poor and mostly illiterate farmers, who nonetheless were enchanted by the splendor of the rite: “The sacred ceremony lasted for more than four hours, and yet there was always a lively participation.”

It was precisely on Guardini that the Jesuit Bergoglio wrote the thesis for his doctorate in theology, in Frankfurt in 1986.

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