All Shook Up

Not even two full weeks since his election, Pope Francis is bringing not just the fresh breeze Pope John hoped for, but a real hurricane, into the Vatican, where it is beginning to shake everything up.

Today, we learn that the Pope is not going to live in the Apostolic Palace, but will continue to stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he and the other cardinals stayed during the conclave. He will continue to hold audiences as usual in the palace. Many have wondered why he has continued to live at the Vatican’s “hotel”, evidently sharing the communal dining room with other guests (mostly clerics visiting the Vatican); the ostensible reason was that repair and renovation work was being done on the papal apartments. Well . . . maybe. I would really like to have been a fly on the wall when the Pope imparted this news to the Curia. This is entirely in tune with Pope Francis’s previous life, when he gave up the cardinal’s residence to life in a simple apartment. He had no domestic staff, and arrived in Rome without even a priest secretary . . Rocco has more of the story here.


Pope Francis and Cardinal Ortega

But even more intriguing, and perhaps more important, we are learning more today about the intervention that Cardinal Bergoglio made in the General Congregations before the conclave, one that likewise shook up the cardinals to such an extent that they chose him as Pope. There has been a lot of talk, but little confirmation. Now Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana has made that intervention public. It seems that when he asked Cardinal Bergoglio after he had spoken if there was a written text of which he could have a copy, Bergoglio said there wasn’t one . . . but the next day, he did give him his handwritten notes, confidentially. Ortega says the Pope later authorized him to publish them.

Ortega has done so, in the diocesan newspaper of Havana, Palabra Nueva. Their website has apparently crashed, but I did find the text elsewhere (with a photo of some of the handwritten text). It’s quite short, so I did a quick translation. Only notes, but very powerful — and we already know how powerfully Pope Francis can deliver from simple notes. Here it is:

Reference was made to evangelization. It is the Church’s reason for being.

- “The sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Paul V).

- It is Jesus Christ himself who, from the inside, impels us.

1. Evangelizing presupposes apostolic zeal.

Evangelizing presupposes in the Church the daring to go out of herself. The Church has been called to go out of herself and go toward the peripheries, not only the geographical ones, but also the existential peripheries; the: those of the mystery of sin, those of sorrow, those of injustice, those of ignorance and religious neglect, those of thought, those of every kind of misery.

2. When the Church does not go out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then she becomes ill (cf. the woman bent over herself in the Gospel). The evils that, in the passage of time, have arisen in ecclesiastical institutions have their roots in being self-referential, a kind of theological narcissism.

In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and calling. Evidently the text refers to knocking from outside the door in order to enter. . . But I think instead that Jesus knocks from the inside so that we will let him go out. The self-referential Church looks to Jesus Christ inside herself and will not let him go out.

3. The Church, when she is self-referential, without realizing it, believes that she has her own light; she stops being the mysterium lunae [mystery of the moon, i.e. reflected light] and gives way to that very serious evil that is spiritual worldliness (according to De Lubac, the worst evil that can happen to the Church). That living in order to give glory to each other.;

Simplifying; there are two images of the Church, the evangelizing church that goes out of herself; the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans, [devoutly hearing and faithfully proclaiming the Word of God] or the worldly Church that lives in herself, of herself, for herself.

This should give light to the possible roads and the reforms that have to be made for the salvation of souls.

Thinking about the next Pope: a man who, from the contemplation of Jesus Christ and the adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out of herself toward the existential peripheries, who will help her be the fruitful mother who lives the “sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

That is the text. It seems that Bergoglio offered a definite challenge to the cardinals — and they met it handsomely.

Maybe someone should have told him: Dear Cardinal Bergoglio; Be careful what you wish for!

There are clearly going to be a lot of ramifications to these developments, so a lot of updates. Stay tuned.

Update: 11:25 p.m. Catholic News Services has more about the Pope’s life in Suite 201.

Update March 27: The Anchoress is marvelous on this, as on every subject.

Here’s a link to an interesting story on Cardinal Bergoglio in the National Catholic Register. I’m not at all surprised to learn he is a student of the Little Way of St. Therese (as was Papa Luciani).


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