During a recent meeting with Jesuits in Ireland, Pope Francis said: “There is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal – think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States – has behind it a Church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God. Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first abuse is of power and conscience.”

Theology of tenderness

During an audience with participants in a recent conference on ‘The theology of tenderness in Pope Francis’, the Pope said: “Theology is called upon to accompany this existential quest [for feeling], bringing the light that comes from the Word of God. And a good theology of tenderness can present divine charity in this sense. It is possible, because the love of God is not an abstract general principle, but personal and concrete, that the Holy Spirit communicates intimately. Indeed, He reaches and transforms the feelings and thoughts of man. What content could a theology of tenderness therefore have? Two seem important to me, and they are the other two ideas that I would like to offer you: the beauty of feeling that one is loved by God, and the beauty of feeling loved in the name of God.”

Concrete choices and gestures

In his Angelus address last Sunday, Pope Francis said: “Each one of us is called to respond, in his or her own heart, letting ourselves be illuminated by the light that the Father gives us to know his Son Jesus. The profession of faith in Jesus Christ cannot stop at words but must be authenticated by concrete choices and gestures, by a life sealed with the love of God and neighbour. But we only find happiness when love – true love – encounters us, surprises us, and changes us.”

‘You cannot be believers and Mafiosi too’

During a recent visit to Palermo to commemorate Fr Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Puglisi, a priest shot dead by mafia hitmen in 1993, Pope Francis said: “A person who is a Mafioso does not live as a Christian because with his life he blasphemes against the name of God. I say to Mafiosi: Change, brothers and sisters! Stop thinking about yourselves and your money... Convert yourselves to the real God, Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters. I say to you, Mafiosi, if you don’t do this, your very life will be lost and that will be your greatest defeat”.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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