Church needs a dose of humility


Not everyone who says ‘Abba Father’ gets into the kingdom but he or she who does the will of God.
Matt. 7:21

One of Europe’s top prizes for humanitarian work is the Charlemagne Prize awarded for “ efforts to promote the European values of peace, tolerance, compassion and solidarity.” The winner this year Pope Francis.The award ceremony on May 5 was preceded by a Pontifical mass at St.Peter’s.


Bear in mind this is not a religious prize. However European Commission president Junker stated that  Pope Francis personifies the idea that “solidarity and compassion are not just fine-sounding words but values that require us to take a stand and act.” He warned that peace cannot be taken for granted and called on all Europeans to face up to their difficulties in order to overcome them, and to shape history rather than be swept along by it. The way to do this is through coalitions “cultural, educational, philosophical and religious,which calls for more unity and more solidarity as the continent confronts its many crises.”

Andrea Ricciardi of the San Egidio lay Catholic community of Rome pointed to the radical differences between Francis and his 2 predecessors whose bete noire was always “secularism and its discontents.”


Both JP ll and Ratzinger consistently lectured secularists about Europe’s failure to embrace its Christian roots.They were insistent on a “God clause”for a European constitutional document. Francis has cut the legs out from both former popes. Instead of seeing Catholicism and Christianity as unique and sole purveyors of The Truth, the heroic defenders of “an embattled subculture, whose task is to preserve self-enclosed pockets of faith within a hostile secular milieu”, Francis more or less heads off in another direction—dialogue and encounter.



The Church especially here needs to hear this. Get out of our bunkers, have some humility, recognize that gospel values are already present in the thousands of the unchurched who are attempting to fashion a better world.



In the pope’s acceptance speech he never mentions “secular “ or “secularism” the favourite whipping boys of the last two pontiffs.



Ricciardi, a sophisticated European Catholic wrote “According to the pope, Europe … today is in decline due to a fear of encountering other people and other religions, hiding behind borders and crystallized identities,”

This is a stunning volte face.

In effect the Church simply needs to become the church, a mustard seed, a humble ginger group which, confident of its gospel values joins with other groups. The attitude here in Canada and the USA has too often been, “if we are not leading the parade we are not in it.”The best example lately has been the embarrassing church response to Francis ecological encyclical Laudato Si. Since the church did not have control of the agenda—the environmental movement already owned it—it refused to play, even though the pope was radically embracing the cry of the earth.
For decades we have been appalled at putative Catholic leaders absent from the social struggle, isolated in their arrogance, thinking they had nothing to learn from “the secularists.”
That day is long gone—much like the young people who left the church to be with the same “secularists” who were taking history seriously. Watching institutional leaders absent themselves from popular movements, the former Catholics moved the gospel outside the walls of the church and the chancery office and put it where it should be, on the streets
Two weeks before he died on August 32, 2012 the eminent Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini spoke this truth:
“The church is tired,. we are 200 years out of date Catholics lack confidence in the church. we need a radical transformation. Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous.”

Pope Francis is  right. the only way forward is coalitions, dialogue and encounter.A modicum of humility would help us realize that we need join with others in the common cause of healing the world.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Right on Ted!
    Wonderful priest friend pointed out to me recently that Francis’ humility is very much tied to his Jesuit Ignatius Loyola spirituality. He was humble enough to admit he erred grievously when he became provincial superior in Argentina cracking down on the young priests involved in the budding liberation theology. That mistake cost lives and he has since learned the wisdom of listening to the Vic populi and the culture- which your post today elaborates extensively.

    Make No mistake. Francis is a very radical pope and he is smart enough not to widen the already very fragmented institution he leads. But one wonders how he can continue to implement so many reforms without a major schism.

RSS Feed for this entry

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: