Thursday, September 19, 2013

Top 12 highlights from Pope Francis' interview in America magazine

It isn't often that the Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Bishop of Rome, and Servant of the Servants of God gives an interview.

But when he does, it seems to me we ought to pay attention: especially if it is as in-depth as this one!

Follows are my Top 12 highlights of Pope Francis' interview with Fr. Antonio Sparado, S.J., in August 2013 and published 30 September 2013 by America magazine:—

1. Who is Pope Francis? "A sinner whom the Lord has looked upon."

2. Pope's governing of the Church: he will consult -- actual, not ceremonial consultations -- and then make a decision.  But the Pope's the decider.

3. We must all, including the Pope, think with the Church: "[A]ll the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together.

4. Thinking with the Church, means the whole Church, including the hierarchy: "And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of ‘Holy Mother the hierarchical Church,’ as St. Ignatius called it, the Church as the People of God, pastors and people together. The Church is the totality of God’s people."

5. The Church is a field hospital for the wounded and dying after a battle: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up."

6. The Church's most important proclamation: Jesus Christ saves! "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds."

7. What did the Pope mean by his comments on moral questions on the flight from Rio to Rome? "During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the Catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person."

8. Proposing Jesus Christ, then, but not interfering spiritually -- what can the Church do? "This is also the great benefit of Confession as a Sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better."

9. What about the Liturgy & Vatican II? "There are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today—which was typical of Vatican II—is absolutely irreversible. Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation."

10. God never abandons anyone: "I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."

11. The Pope keeps his breviary on his desk; it is in Latin, and worn from use. He uses it to answer a question, opening it to the 2d reading from the XXVII Friday in Ordinary Time: a passage from the Commonitorium Primum of St. Vincent of Lerins.

12. The Pope's life of prayer: "I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day."

* * *

There's a lot to digest in the whole of the interview, and I'm certain others will emphasize other aspects of it.  For me, however, these are the most important points to be drawn.

I also find reassuringly ordinary the Pope's response to his interviewer's question about his prayer life. Pope Francis prays his breviary, says his Mass, tells his Beads, and goes to adoration.  That's a rule of life by which we can all abide!

V. Oremus pro Summo Pontifice nostro Francisco.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

Pater Noster.  Ave Maria.  

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Franciscum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

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