SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

November 27, 2013

Pope’s “Manifesto”

ANDREW MEDICHINI ASSOCIATED PRESS Pope Francis criticized an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy” in the church and called for more female involvement in decision-making and support for women in poverty or turmoil.

Pope wants his church more ‘out on the street’

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church should concentrate less on procedures and liturgy and get “dirty” and “bruised” by reaching out to people in the street, Pope Francis wrote in a document that was released yesterday and is seen as a manifesto for his papacy.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella presented the mission statement for Pope Francis’ papacy.

The 224-page “apostolic exhortation,” called The Joy of the Gospel, summarized many of the themes and ideas that the Argentine-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has raised since his election in March.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” the pontiff wrote.

Francis, who has consistently shunned papal pomp and protocol, railed against an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy … without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people.”

“In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few,” he warned.

  • Hinting at potentially far-reaching reforms in the Vatican’s male-dominated world, the pope called for “a more incisive female presence in the Church,” especially “where important decisions are made.”

At the same time, he signaled an intention to delegate power to bishops around the globe, going as far as saying that the pope should not “be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the church and the world.”

  • Francis also renewed his well-known criticism of unbridled capitalism, denouncing inequality as “the root of social ills.”  He said there will be “no solution” to world ills until the problems of the poor are addressed by rejecting “the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality.”

While pleading for better relations with Jews and Muslims , he “humbly” asked Islamic countries “to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith.” He noted that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.”

On family issues, the pope reasserted the church’s traditional stances.

Speaking out against divorce, he said marriage “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple” and criticized those who see it “as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.”

On abortion, he said it is “not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.” But he added that the church had “done little” to support women “in very difficult situations,” such as those suffering from extreme poverty or pregnancy from rape.

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Stunningly Beautiful Apostolic Exhortation

In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. (Pope Francis)


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – It will take your breath away in its evangelical fervor, spiritual insight, beauty, profound theology and depth of insight. Officially released this morning, the first Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope Francis is entitled The Joy of the Gospel and it will send shockwaves of the Holy Spirit when its impact is fully experienced.

The Exhortation was offered to the faithful on the Feast of Christ the King when Francis symbolically handed it to a Bishop, a Priest, a Deacon and a Lay leader in a public gesture. As with everything he does, he was, in those words attributed to his namesake, Francis of Assisi, “preaching the gospel at all times and when necessary using words”. The symbolic gesture indicated what this extraordinary exhortation, already being hailed as the manifesto of this Pope, confirms – this exhortation contains the marching orders for a new missionary age of the Church in the Third Millennium.

I will spend the Thanksgiving break praying through this beautiful gift to the whole Church.I suggest all of my readers do the same. The Exhortation is 224 pages along, including a wonderful topical index, available at the beginning or the end, depending on the version. It is made for prayerful meditation as well as deep, continual study. A review of it this morning brought me to tears and made me grateful to be alive in this age. However, it is more than a piece for reflection, it is a manifesto for action, a call to mission, and a blueprint.

  • You can print the apostolic exhortation off for yourself in HTML format here.Or, in PDF format here.I strongly advise every one of my readers to do so, immediately. Put it in a three ring binder and let it rock your world.

It will make for wonderful Thanksgiving reflective prayer and reading. It will also lend itself to resolutions as the new Church year, as well as the new secular year, both begin. It will soon be available in book format from several great sources. DO NOT WAIT! You will want to read this immediately – and prayerfully.Then, you will want to begin to live it. You will also want it with you  for continual reference next to where you pray.That is when the paperback version will be especially useful. Get those highlighters ready! I end with a short quote from the exhortation:

*     *     *     *     *

Beginning of the Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

1. THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

I. A JOY EVER NEW, A JOY WHICH IS SHARED
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven.

Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!…

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2013
General Intention:
Suffering Priests. That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity.
Missionary Intention: Latin American Churches. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.

(My comment:

It may be hard to realize this, but I am not a member of the Catholic Church, tho this may be the 5th or more of the posts I’ve done on this beloved man.  I am so taken with his mission and the quality of him which shines through in his every action.  If one could join this church by heart content alone, I might reconsider my iconoclastic stance on all things religiously organized. To me, that says something about the power this persona generates and unleashes to the world — which can only uplift. 

An internet search rewarded me with a source which would allow us to print out this document, for I feel it arrives at a significant time in our world’s struggle and his insight is healing and needed and most certainly comes from on high.  You’ll find it easily, as I bulleted the line.

He continues to be an amazing blessing.   Jan)

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