How do you see the laity in Argentina?
As I have said before, there is a problem: the temptation to clericalism. We priests tend to clericalize the laity. We do not realize it, but it is as if we infect them with our own thing. And the laity – not all but many – ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar boy than the protagonist of a lay path. We must not enter into that trap, it is a sinful complicity. Neither clericalize nor ask to be clericalized. The layman is a layman and has to live as a layman with the strength of his baptism, which enable shim to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And by carrying his daily cross as all of us do. And this is the cross of the layman, not that of the priest. Let the priest carry the cross of the priest, since God gave him a broad enough shoulder for this.”
“What I Would Have Said At The Consistory” (Interview: 30 Days)
This is valid also for lay people…
BERGOGLIO: Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize
the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized… It really is sinful abetment.
And to think that baptism alone could suffice. I’m thinking of those
Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than
two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all
baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a
Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace
that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had
also lived their apostolic mission in virtue of baptism alone. One must not be
afraid of depending only on His tenderness… Do you know the biblical
episode of the prophet Jonah?
I don’t remember it. Tell us.
BERGOGLIO: Jonah had everything clear. He had clear ideas about
God, very clear ideas about good and evil. On what God does and on what
He wants, on who was faithful to the Covenant and who instead was outside
the Covenant. He had the recipe for being a good prophet. God broke into
his life like a torrent. He sent him to Nineveh. Nineveh was the symbol of all
the separated, the lost, of all the peripheries of humanity. Of all those who
are outside, forlorn. Jonah saw that the task set on him was only to tell all
those people that the arms of God were still open, that the patience of God
was there and waiting, to heal them with His forgiveness and nourish them
with His tenderness. Only for that had God sent him. He sent him to
Nineveh, but he instead ran off in the opposite direction, toward Tarsis.
Running away from a difficult mission…
BERGOGLIO: No. What he was fleeing was not so much Nineveh as he boundless love of God for those people. It was that that didn’t come into his plans. God had come once… “and I’ll see to the rest”: that’s what Jonah told himself. He wanted to do things his way, he wanted to steer it all. His
stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his preordained methods, in his righteous opinions. He had fenced his soul off with the barbed wire of those certainties that instead of giving freedom with God and opening horizons of greater service to others had finished by deafening his heart. How the isolated conscience hardens the heart! Jonah no longer knew that God leads His people with the heart of a Father.
A great many of us can identify with Jonah.
BERGOGLIO: Our certainties can become a wall, a jail that imprisons the Holy Spirit. Those who isolate their conscience from the path of the people of God don’t know the joy of the Holy Spirit that sustains hope. That is the risk run by the isolated conscience. Of those who from the closed
world of their Tarsis complain about everything or, feeling their identity
threatened, launch themselves into battles only in the end to be still more
self-concerned and self-referential.
What should one do?
BERGOGLIO: Look at our people not for what it should be but for
what it is and see what is necessary. Without preconceptions and recipes but
with generous openness. For the wounds and the frailty God spoke. Allowing
the Lord to speak… In a world that we can’t manage to interest with the
words we say, only His presence that loves us, saves us, can be of interest.
The apostolic fervor renews itself in order to testify to Him who has loved us
from the beginning.
For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the
BERGOGLIO: It is what De Lubac calls “spiritual worldliness”. It is the
greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. “It is worse”,
says De Lubac, “more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured
the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes”. Spiritual
worldliness is putting oneself at the center. It is what Jesus saw going on
among the Pharisees: “… You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to
yourselves, the ones to the others”.
* * * * * * * * * *
Benedict XVI: Assisi (October 2011)
“The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.
In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: “There is no God”. They suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others. These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in
which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions.
Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of
taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for
peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure
you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in
her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to
be “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”. Assisi