Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pope's Address to the US Bishops

Image from the NYT story.
The Holy Father's address to the U.S. Bishops is remarkable. (As is the fact that the only English text I can find right now is hosted by the New York Times!)

Three initial thoughts: the call to dialogue (a word that, among younger clergy, and some Catholics is regarded with suspicion. It brings to mind an attitude of dilution, and as a means to relativizing all truth claims). However, I urge a close, open read to these words of the Holy Father, and his focus on the means of proclaiming the "bold speech" (parrhesia) of the Gospel:
The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it. Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue. Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain. Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.
Then, there is the stirring call of Bishops to be fathers to their priests, and then this list of temptations facing priestly ministry. Honestly, I could just hear the Pope, such a father!, speaking this to me and it brought tears to my eyes:
Let this closeness be expressed in a special way towards your priests. Support them, so that they can continue to serve Christ with an undivided heart, for this alone can bring fulfillment to ministers of Christ. I urge you, then, not to let them be content with half-measures. Find ways to encourage their spiritual growth, lest they yield to the temptation to become notaries and bureaucrats, but instead reflect the motherhood of the Church, which gives birth to and raises her sons and daughters. Be vigilant lest they tire of getting up to answer those who knock on their door by night, just when they feel entitled to rest (Lk 11:5-8). Train them to be ready to stop, care for, soothe, lift up and assist those who, “by chance” find themselves stripped of all they thought they had (Lk 10:29-37).
And third: just how much his speech, his talk, is permeated by the Gospel, by references to the Gospels, and to the person and personality of Jesus.

[This was first posted this afternoon on Facebook.] 

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