Friday, April 05, 2013

the paradox of the pope

Kenneth Tanner on Pope Francis' sense of self:
..he really does believe, to the dismay of some traditionalists, that he is no different than you and me.
        This played itself out on one of the biggest stages the world knows.       -link

On "missional sacraments":

As a non-Catholic observing and leading a flock in many traditions shared with Rome, I'm deeply encouraged. And, as I learn about "Papa Francesco," there's one "new thing" in particular that inspires this pastor: Francis pushes the envelope when it comes to the Sacraments.
As a cardinal in Argentina, Francis encouraged his priests to leave the safety of their chapels, churches, and cathedrals to take the Eucharist, to take Jesus, to the public squares, streets, alleyway garages, and ghettos, preaching the gospel and offering baptism on the spot, with instruction, to those who desired conversion of heart and mind to Christ.
In an interview last winter, then-Cardinal Bergoglio told Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider:

Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it. We organize missions in public squares where many people usually gather: we pray, we celebrate Mass, we offer baptism which we administer after a brief preparation.
               Speaking to his brother cardinals prior to the conclave, Bergoglio took his cues from John's

Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.
Jesus himself was never afraid to leave the temple or the synagogue, to go outside the churches of his day, to come into the presence of those whom the righteous too often reject and despise, that he might walk and dine with them and convert them by his presence.
If men and women can come to Jesus by an altar call in a stadium, by praying the Sinner's Prayer in a theater, why not take the very presence of Christ in bread and wine to them, celebrating on the square?
One can wonder whether Holy Communion is shared with those not yet baptized, but this pope's heart-felt pastoral remarks, made as a vanguard of the rising church in Latin America, make clear his passion to take Jesus to the streets. His directive is something fresh, one response to the reticence of "nones" for houses of worship, and gives us a new vision of a church without walls.

Bergoglio, again:

Jesus wants to draw near to the poor in spirit, and the poor in pocket change, too. He gave his church the sacraments for that purpose: to bring the baptismal power of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection to those on the street, in the street, as so often happens in the Book of Acts.

And the new pope's radical sacramentalism doesn't end there. Last year, in a sermon, he voiced deep concern that priests in his home country were withholding baptism from some children because of the perceived moral status of their parents, as first reported by Gianni Valente ofVatican Insider:
We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman.… If I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one …
I say this with sadness and if it sounds like a complaint or an offensive comment please forgive me: in our ecclesiastical region there are presbyteries that will not baptize children whose mothers are not married because they have been conceived outside holy wedlock.   link

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