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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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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

THE KNOTS OF PASTOR BERGOGLIO by Sandro Magister

He was the one who imported from Germany to Argentina the devotion to the Blessed Mother
” To his studies he preferred the care of souls. And today he is doing the same: he is leaving to others the exposition of doctrine. As in the case of communion for the divorced and remarried.

   by Sandro Magister

ROME, October 29, 2013 – Since he was elected pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio  has been constantly under the gaze of the world, which is scrutinizing his every action and word.

But his previous biography is yet to be as well known.

The book by Nello Scavo "La lista di Bergoglio" has lifted the veil on the role of the young Jesuit during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship:

> The Jesuit Who Humiliated the Generals

But still little is known about the six years during which Bergoglio was superior of the Argentine province of the Society of Jesus, between 1973 and 1979, and about the real motivations that led to his subsequent marginalization, until his exile in the peripheral Jesuit residence of Córdoba,  as a simple spiritual director.

It was in one of those difficult years that Bergoglio went to Germany "to finish his doctoral thesis,” as his official biography on the Vatican website succinctly puts it.

It was March of 1986. Bergoglio would be turning 50 in December.  For the subject of his doctoral thesis he had chosen Romano Guardini,  the great German theologian who was a master for two future popes, Paul VI and Benedict XVI, two of whose books Bergoglio had read and admired above all: "The Lord," on the person of Jesus, and "Der Gegensatz," published in Spanish with the title "Contrasteidad," highly critical of the Hegelian and Marxist dialectic.

But from how his transfer to Germany took place and how it was interrupted after only a few months, with the abandonment of the doctoral thesis, it can be deduced that Bergoglio undertook that voyage more at the orders of his Jesuit superiors than out of his own spontaneous will.

In his autobiographical interview "El Jesuita," Bergoglio would later recount that in Germany, every time he saw an airplane take off, he dreamed that he was on board, going to Argentina. Such was his desire to return to his country.

The archives of Romano Guardini were in Munich, while the theological faculty at which Bergoglio would defend his doctoral thesis was the Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt.

But he did not limit himself to shuttling between these two cities. From Munich one also can go quickly by train to Augsburg.

And it was there that his German transfer radically changed in character.

*

In Augsburg, in the church of the Jesuits, dedicated to Saint Peter, there is a venerated Marian image: the Blessed Mother "untier of knots."

In it Mary is depicted untying the knots of a ribbon held out to her by an angel, which another angel is receiving from her with no more knots. The meaning is clear. The knots are all that complicates life, difficulties, sins. And Mary is the one who helps to untie them.

Bergoglio was deeply struck by this Marian image. When he returned to Argentina a few months later, he brought with him a good number of prayer cards with the Blessed Mother "untier of knots."

His doctoral thesis was abandoned at its birth, and even the thought of Romano Guardini did not leave a lasting imprint upon Bergoglio. In the interview with Pope Francis in "La Civiltà Cattolica," in which he dedicates ample space to his authors of reference, Guardini is not there. Nor is he cited in his other writings and discourses.

But in exchange, thanks to his stay in Germany in 1986, Bergoglio unknowingly brought a new Marian devotion to birth in Argentina.

An artist to whom he had given one of the prayer cards acquired in Augsburg reproduced the image and offered it to a parish of the working-class Barrio de Agronomía, in the center of Buenos Aires.

On display in the church, the image of Mary "desatanudos" attracted a growing number of devotees, converted sinners, and marked an unexpected growth of religious practice. To such an extent that after a few years there was a well-established tradition of a pilgrimage to the image, from all over Buenos Aires and from even farther away, on the 8th day of every month.

"I never felt myself so much an instrument in the hands of God," Bergoglio confided to a Jesuit confrere who was his disciple, Fr. Fernando Albistur, now a professor of biblical studies at the Colegio Máximo di San Miguel in Buenos Aires.

Fr. Albistur recounts this in a newly released book edited by Alejandro Bermúdez, with interviews with ten Jesuits and ten Argentine laymen who are longtime friends of Bergoglio.

And he is not the only one. In the same book, Fr. Juan Carlo Scannone, the most authoritative of the Argentine theologians and a former professor of the young Jesuit Bergoglio, also relates the same episode.

In Scannone's judgment, the instance of the Blessed Mother "untier of knots" helps us to understand more deeply the "pastoral" profile of Pope Francis and his accentuated attention to the "people."

*

Bergoglio has never been a theologian, much less an academic. Among the theologians he says that he likes Henri De Lubac and Michel de Certeau. But not because he has assimilated the overall positions of the two, which moreover are very different. He almost always cites only one of De Lubac's books, "Meditations on the Church," and almost always only one passage from this: that against the "worldliness" of the Church.

Also as pope he is above all a man of action, of pastoral action. Those who have known him up close and have been friends with him for years - like the twenty interviewed for the book by Alejandro Bermúdez - see in him exceptional qualities of command and noteworthy strategical abilities. None of his actions, none of his words, is ever left to chance. And his priority is the pastoral care of the "people" entrusted to him, who since he has become pope have been extended to the whole world.

His preaching is intentionally suited to this profile. It is primarily addressed to the common people, to the weak in faith, to the sinners, to the faraway. Not as a whole, but as if the pope would like to speak one-on-one with each of them.

Just as in the Gospel Jesus is very demanding in the commandments but turns to individual sinners with mercy, so also Pope Francis wants to be.

On disputed questions, on birth, on death, on procreation, he is of undisputed doctrinal orthodoxy: "The view of the Church is known and I am a son of the Church," he bluntly stated in the interview with "La Civiltà Cattolica."

But he leaves the exposition of doctrine to others, and reserves for himself the merciful style of the care of souls.

The most striking example of this joint action came a few days ago, when on the disputed question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics Pope Francis set to work the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Who in an extensive article in "L'Osservatore Romano" reiterated from top to tail the reasons for the 'no' to communion:

> Divorced and Remarried. Müller Writes, Francis Dictates

Archbishop Müller is one of the few heads of the curia whom Francis has confirmed in his role. A man, therefore, who has his complete trust. To whom he has not hesitated to entrust also the task - in the same article - of dispelling the interpretive ambiguities born from some of the formulations concerning "mercy" and "conscience" used by the pope himself in his public conversation.

The inauguration of this twofold communicative register - in this case, of the pope and of his guardian of doctrine - almost entirely escaped the notice of the media, still dazzled by the presumed "openness" of the former. But it is likely to be repeated with other issues.

And perhaps it will permit the untying of an interpretive knot of the current pontificate: that of the apparent distancing of pope Bergoglio from his predecessors in confronting the "anthropological challenge."


Pope Francis explicitly referred to the Blessed Mother "untier of knots" in the first part of the meditation he gave on October 12 in Saint Peter's Square, on the Marian day of the year of faith, in the presence of an even more famous Marian image, that of Fatima:


PRAYER FOR THE MARIAN DAY 
ON THE OCCASION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH

ADDRESS OF HOLY FATHER FRANCIS







Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This event of the Year of Faith is devoted to Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church, our Mother. The statue of Our Lady which has come from Fatima helps us to feel her presence in our midst. It is a fact: Mary always brings us to Jesus. She is a woman of faith, a true believer. But we can ask: What was Mary’s faith like?

1. The first aspect of her faith is this: Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56). What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith” (Adversus Haereses, III, 22, 4).

The “knot” of disobedience, the “knot” of unbelief. When children disobey their parents, we can say that a little “knot” is created. This happens if the child acts with an awareness of what he or she is doing, especially if there is a lie involved. At that moment, they break trust with their parents. You know how frequently this happens! Then the relationship with their parents needs to be purified of this fault; the child has to ask forgiveness so that harmony and trust can be restored. Something of the same sort happens in our relationship with God. When we do not listen to him, when we do not follow his will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo.

But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose “yes” opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. We all have some of these knots and we can ask in our heart of hearts: What are the knots in my life? “Father, my knots cannot be undone!” It is a mistake to say anything of the sort! All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone. Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, to undo those knots, to change? She, as a woman of faith, will surely tell you: “Get up, go to the Lord: he understands you”. And she leads us by the hand as a Mother, our Mother, to the embrace of our Father, the Father of mercies.

2. A second aspect is that Mary’s faith gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: “Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 63). This was a point on which the Fathers of the Church greatly insisted: Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said “yes” to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her “yes”. He asked her: “Are you prepared to do this?” And she replied: “Yes”.

But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his word. It is not easy to understand this, but really, it is easy to feel it in our heart.

Do we think that Jesus’ incarnation is simply a past event which has nothing to do with us personally? Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially to offer our hearts to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will. All this happens thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. And in this way we become instruments in God’s hands, so that Jesus can act in the world through us.

3. The third aspect is Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (ibid., 58). In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us.

How was Mary’s faith a journey? In the sense that her entire life was to follow her Son: he – Jesus – is the way, he is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to him and be guided by his words; to see how he acts and to follow in his footsteps; to have his same sentiments. And what are these sentiments of Jesus? Humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also a firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross. The journey of faith thus passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning, when Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus. But then this experience of the cross became deeper when Jesus was rejected. Mary was always with Jesus, she followed Jesus in the midst of the crowds and she heard all the gossip and the nastiness of those who opposed the Lord. And she carried this cross! Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt. When Jesus’ “hour” came, the hour of his passion, when Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night, a little light flickering in the darkness. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith always brings us to joy, and Mary is the Mother of joy! May she teach us to take the path of joy, to experience this joy! That was the high point – this joy, this meeting of Jesus and Mary, and we can imagine what it was like. Their meeting was the high point of Mary’s journey of faith, and that of the whole Church. What is our faith like? Like Mary, do we keep it burning even at times of difficulty, in moments of darkness? Do I feel the joy of faith?

This evening, Mother, we thank you for our faith, the faith of a strong and humble woman; we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith. Amen.



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