Pope Francis’s pastoral emphasis
An inclusive God for an inclusive Church Pope Francis has frequently claimed that the purpose of the Church is more to proclaim God’s merciful love FOR ALL PEOPLE THAN TO CONDEMN SINNERS, especially those having to do with gender and sexual orientation. Again Francis said “God is in every person’s life. Not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists. Everyone!” For Francis, the Church’s purpose is not to bring God to the world but simply to emphasize God’s presence.
A pastoral church
Francis used the image of the church as a field hospital after battle. The wounds must be healed first as “We need a church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of ‘wounded’ persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love.
“… the church must accompany, not condemn those who experience failure in married life. “When this love fails, …- we have to feel the pain of the failure, [we must] accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. Do not condemn. Walk with them”
The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.
At Lampedusa: We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping of “suffering with”: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!”
A poor church for the poor
Addressing homeless people, Francis said, “To love God and neighbour is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person and face the Lord to be served. … You do so with love in the heart!”
“Where do I find hope? In the flesh of Jesus who suffers and in true poverty. There is a connection between the two.”
THERE IS NO SADNESS IN HOLINESS
Pope Francis noted that “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter…. AS IT EXPANDS, GOODNESS TAKES ROOT AND DEVELOPS. An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.
May the world of our time … receive the good news … from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the Joy of Christ.”
Francis observed first hand, that those people who contain the greatest joy are the poor. They have a strong dependence on one another, and a great faith and trust in God. The joy of the gospel is not just any kind of joy. It is the joy that comes from knowing that you are welcomed and loved by God.
It was comforting to hear him say in October 2013, “God does not save us only by decree, with a law, he saves us with tenderness, he saves us with caresses, he saves us with his life given for us Condemnation rather than mercy and compassion seem to have been highlighted in recent years and all sorts of people feel excluded – modern day lepers who have received no welcome till now.
With the Passionist Family Groups to be true to his style means that the most obvious thing will not be that we have a logo or that we say people are welcome in our groups, but that people will see that we are welcoming, joy-filled Christians who are truly a family!
Brian Traynor CP