Pope Francis Calls for Inclusiveness

“Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.” Matthew 7:19

After the recent release of an in-depth interview with Pope Francis, many in the public and media have zeroed in on a few key statements. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods,” Francis said. In another part, he related a story where “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’” It is important to note that nowhere in the interview did Francis suggest any change in the dogma or teachings of the church. Instead, these statements were part of a broader message on the calling of the Church.

“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,” Pope Francis said.  Pope Francis likened the church to a field hospital after a battle, treating the wounded. “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.”

The real core element that Pope Francis was trying to bring out in the interview was the nature of a living God. “God is real. He manifests himself today. God is everywhere,” he said. He went on to outline his theological and philosophical views on how to seek God in everything. He explained that God is revealed through the narrative of history instead of a list of “abstract truths”. The concrete God should be sought in the present. “If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalists, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing,” he said.

When asked about himself, Pope Francis first identified himself as a sinner. He is a strong believer in the philosophy of “Deus Semper Maior” (the Always-Greater God). Realizing the ultimately fallible nature of being human gives the humility necessary to submit yourself to the will of God. “God is greater than sin,” he said.

From these perspectives comes an inclusive view of community. “I see the holiness in the patience of the people of God: a woman who is raising children, a man who works to bring home the bread, the sick, the elderly priests who have so many wounds but have a smile on their faces because they served the Lord, the sisters who work hard and live a hidden sanctity,” Pope Francis said. This sense of community illustrates the view Francis has for the future of the Church in the world. “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.”

Additional Resources

America, A Big Heart Open to God: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

Catholic Online, Matthew Chapter 7: http://www.catholiconline.com/bible/book.php?id=47&bible_chapter=7&submit=Go

The Wall Street Journal, Pope Warns Church Focusing Too Much on Gays, Abortion: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324492604579085112121099956.html#articleTabs%3Darticle%26commentId%3D6349526

The Guardian, Pope Francis Sets Out Vision for More Gay People and Women in ‘New’ Church: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/19/pope-francis-vision-new-catholic-church

Time, The 4 Reform Themes of Pope Francis in New Interview: http://world.time.com/2013/09/19/the-four-reform-themes-of-pope-francis-in-new-interview/

Huffington Post, Atheists Like What They See In Pope Francis’ New Openness: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/atheists-like-what-they-see-in-pope-francis-new-openness_n_3329548.html

USA Today, What Non-Catholics Think of the New Pope: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/03/14/pope-faiths-react/1986529/

Christianity Today, Why Pope Francis Excites (Most) Evangelical Leaders: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march-web-only/why-pope-francis-excites-most-evangelical-leaders-bergoglio.html

The New York Times, Pope Meets Other Religious Leaders, Pledging Respect: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/world/europe/pope-francis-meets-with-other-religious-leaders.html?_r=0

The Liberator, Why Racism is not a Crime: http://theliberatortoday.blogspot.com/2012/05/defending-indefensible-intellectual.html

New America Media, Whites Have Growing Interest in Black Greek Organizations, Experts Say: http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=1609ca94364c1b7aa723c9dbc5b5aa0c

 

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