Friday, September 17, 2021




.SOURCE: Re-blogged from: 


Rome ,italy-october 18 ,2016: people walking around saint peter's quare for visit inside museum in rome ,italy. Premium Photo

Make of this what you will. There are minor problems with the translation, but the theme once again is his condemnation of rigidity [e.g. “Hitlers in habits {dress}]” where he seemingly, to me on a first cursory reading, abuses Leo XIII’s principle of subsidiarity for the social order by applying it mistakenly to the hierarchial Church. I do not intend to unpack the rest here other than this first observation and do not apologise for not calling this man “Francis” as he has abused the holy name of a great saint after whom he took the name.


Synod Hall
Thursday, 16 September 2021



Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!

I cordially greet His Eminence Cardinal Kevin Farrell and thank him for his words to me. And thank you to all of you, for being present despite the inconveniences due to the pandemic – and sometimes from the “not good mood” that perhaps this decree has sown in someone’s heart! But let’s move forward together. I also greet and thank those who participate in video linking, many of whom have not been able to travel because of the limitations still in place in many countries. I don’t know how the Secretary managed to get back from Brazil! Then you will have to explain it to me.

1. I have wished to be here today first of all to say thank you! Thank you for your presence as lay people, men and women, young and old, committed to living and witnessing to the Gospel in the ordinary realities of life, in your work, in so many different contexts – educational, of social commitment, and so on, on the street, in the terminals of the railways, there you were all – this is the vast field of your apostolate, it is your evangelization.

We must understand that evangelization is a mandate that comes from Baptism; the Baptism that makes us priests together, in the priesthood of Christ: the priestly people. And we must not wait for the priest, the priest to evangelize, the missionary to come. Yes, they do this very well, but those who have Baptism have the task of evangelizing. You have awakened this with your movements, and this is very good. Thank you!

In recent months, you have seen with your own eyes and touched with your own hands the sufferings and anxieties of so many men and women, due to the pandemic, especially in the poorest countries, where many of you are present. One of you was talking to me about this. So much poverty, misery… I think of us who here in the Vatican complain when the meal is not well cooked, when there are people who have nothing to eat. I am grateful to you because you have not stopped: you have not stopped bringing your solidarity, your help, your evangelical witness even in the hardest months, when the infections were very high. Despite the restrictions due to the necessary preventive measures, you have not given up, on the contrary, I know that many of you have multiplied your commitment, adapting to the concrete situations that you had and have in front of you, with that creativity that comes from love, because those who feel loved by the Lord love without measure.

This “without measure” is what comes in these critical moments. And we have also seen this “without measure” in so many sisters, in so many consecrated women, in so many priests and in so many bishops. I’m thinking of a bishop who ended up intubated to always be with people. Now it is recovering slowly. It is you and all of God’s people who have sided with this, and you have been there. None of you said, “No, I can’t go, because my founder thinks another way.” Then, no founder: here was the Gospel that called and everyone went. Thank you very much! You have witnessed “that (blessed) common belonging from which we cannot escape: belonging as brothers”(Meditation in times of pandemic, 27 March 2020). Either we are brothers or we are enemies! “No, no. I detach myself: O brothers or enemies”.” There is no middle ground.

2. As members of associations of the faithful, of international ecclesial movements and of other communities, you have a true and proper ecclesial mission. With dedication, seek to live and make fruitful those charisms which the Holy Spirit, through the founders, entrusted to all the members of your aggregative realities, for the benefit of the Church and of so many men and women to whom you dedicate yourselves in the apostolate. I am thinking especially of those who, being in the existential peripheries of our societies, experience abandonment and loneliness in their flesh, and suffer from the many material needs and moral and spiritual poverty. It will be good for all of us to remember every day not only the poverty of others, but also, and first of all, our own.

There is one thing about Mother Teresa that often comes to mind. Yes, she was religious, but this happens to everyone if we are on the road. When you go to pray and feel nothing. I call it that, that “spiritual atheism”, where everything is dark, everything seems to say: “I have failed, this is not the way, this is a beautiful illusion”. The temptation of atheism, when it comes in prayer. Poor Mother Teresa suffered so much because it is the devil’s revenge for the fact that we go there, to the peripheries, where Jesus is, right where Jesus was born. We prefer a sophisticated Gospel, a distilled Gospel, but it is not the Gospel, the Gospel is this. Thank you. It will be good for everyone to think about these forms of poverty.

You are also, even with the limitations and sins of every day – thank God, that we are sinners and that God gives us the grace to recognize our sins and also the grace to ask or go to the confessor: this is a great grace, do not lose it! –, even with these limitations, you are a clear sign of the vitality of the Church: you represent a missionary strength and a presence of prophecy that gives us hope for the future. You too, together with the Pastors and all the other lay faithful, have the responsibility to build the future of the holy faithful people of God. But always remember that building the future does not mean getting out of the today we live! On the contrary, the future must be prepared here and now, “in the kitchen”, learning to listen to and discern the present time with honesty and courage and with the readiness to a constant encounter with the Lord, to a constant personal conversion. Otherwise you run the risk of living in a “parallel world”, distilled, far from the real challenges of society, culture and all those people who live next to you and who await your Christian witness. In fact, belonging to an association, a movement or a community, especially if they refer to a charism, must not lock us up in an “iron barrel”, make us feel safe, as if there were no need for any response to challenges and changes. All of us Christians are always on the way, always in conversion, always in discernment.

Many times we find the so-called “pastoral agents”, whether they are bishops, priests, nuns, committed lay people [he says “compromises”]. I don’t like that word: the layman is busy or not committed. The laity are active in something. But we find some who confuse the path with a tourist trip or confuse the path with a turn always on themselves, without being able to move forward. The evangelical path is not a tourist trip. It is a challenge: every step is a challenge and every step is a call from God, every step is – as we say in our land – “putting the meat on the grill”. Always keep going. We are always on the way, always in conversion, always in discernment to do the will of God.

To think that we are “the novelty” in the Church – it is a temptation that often happens to new congregations or new movements – and therefore not in need of change, can become a false security. Even the news are soon to age! For this reason, even the charism to which we belong, we must deepen it ever better, always reflect together to embody it in the new situations we live. To do this, great docility, great humility is required of us, to recognize our limitations and accept to change outdated ways of doing and thinking, or methods of apostolate that are no longer effective, or forms of organization of internal life that have proved inadequate or even harmful. For example, this is one of the services that the General Chapters always give us. When they are not good [the ways and methods] you have to review them in assembly.

But now we stick to the point, what you were waiting for.

3. The Decree On International Associations of the Faithful,promulgated on 11 June of this year, is a step in this direction. But does this Decree put us in prison? Does freedom close to us? No, this Decree pushes us to accept some changes and to prepare the future starting from the present. At the origin of this Decree there is not any theory about the Church or about the lay associations that you want to apply or impose. No, there isn’t. It is the very reality of recent decades that has shown us the need for the changes that the Decree asks of us.

And I tell you something about this experience of the last decades of the post-Council period. In the Congregation for Men and Women religious are studying, the associations that were born in this period. It’s curious, it’s very curious. Many, many, with a novelty that is great, have ended up in very hard situations: they have ended up under apostolic visitation, they have ended up with ugly sins, commissariats … And they’re doing a study. I don’t know if you can publish this, but you know better than I do for the clerical chatter what these situations are. There are many and not only these great ones that we know and that are scandalous – the things they did to feel like a Church apart, seemed to be the redeemers! – a but also small. In my country, for example, three of these have already been dissolved and all of them for having ended up in the dirtiest things. They were salvation, weren’t they? Seemed… Always with that [red] thread of disciplinary rigidity. This is important. And this led me… This reality of the last decades has shown us a series of changes to help, changes that the Decree asks of us.

Today, therefore, precisely on the basis of this Decree, you are dwelling on a theme that is important not only for each one of you, but for the whole Church:“The responsibility of governance in lay groups. An ecclesial service”. To govern is to serve. The exercise of government within associations and movements is a theme that is particularly close to my heart, especially considering – what I said before – the cases of abuse of various kinds that have also occurred in these realities and that always find their root in the abuse of power. This is the origin: the abuse of power. Not infrequently the Holy See, in recent years, has had to intervene, initiating not easy processes of healing. And I think not only of these very bad situations, which make noise; but also to the diseases that come from the weakening of the foundational charism, which becomes lukewarm and loses the capacity for attraction.

4. The positions of government entrusted to you in the lay groups to which you belong are nothing more than a call to serve. But what does it mean for a Christian to serve? On some occasions I have had the opportunity to point out two obstacles that a Christian may encounter on his journey and that prevent him from becoming a true servant of God and of others (cf. Morning Meditation at Santa Marta,8 November 2016).

5. The first is the“desire for power”:when this desire for power makes you change the nature of government service. How many times have we made others feel our “desire for power”? Jesus taught us that he who commands must become like the one who serves (cf. Lk 22:24-26) and that “if anyone wants to be the first, let him be the servant of all”(Mk 9:35). Jesus, that is, overturns the values of worldliness, of the world.

Our desire for power is expressed in many ways in the life of the Church; for example, when we believe, by virtue of the role we have, that we must make decisions on all aspects of the life of our association, of the diocese, of the parish, of the congregation. They delegate to the other tasks and responsibilities for certain areas, but only theoretically! In practice, delegation to others is emptied of the desire to be everywhere. And this desire for power nullifies all forms of subsidiarity. This attitude is ugly and ends up emptying the ecclesial body of strength. It’s a bad way of “disciplining.” And we have seen it. Many – and I think of the congregations I know the most – superiors, superiors general who eternalize themselves in power and do a thousand, a thousand things to be re-elected and re-elected, even changing the constitutions. And behind it there is a desire for power. This does not help; this is the beginning of the end of an association, of a congregation.

Maybe someone thinks that this “desire” does not concern him, that this does not happen in his own association. We keep in mind that the Decree The international associations of the faithful is not addressed only to some of the realities present here, but is for all, none excluded. For all. There are no more good or less good, perfect or not: all ecclesial realities are called to conversion, to understand and to understand the spirit that animates the dispositions they give us in the Decree. I get two pictures on this. Two historical images. That nun who was at the entrance of the Chapter and said: “If you vote for me, I will do this …”. They buy power. And then, a case that seems strange to me, like “the spirit of the founder descended on me”. It looks like a prophecy of Isaiah! “He gave it to me! I must go on alone or only because the founder gave me his cloak, like Elijah to Elijah. And you, yes, do the voting, but I am in charge.” And this happens! I’m not talking about fantasies. This is happening today in the Church.

The experience of closeness to your realities has taught us that it is beneficial and necessary to provide for a change in government offices and a representativeness of all the members in your elections. Even in the context of consecrated life there are religious institutes which, always holding the same people in government posts, have not prepared the future; they have allowed abuses to creep in and are now going through great difficulties. I am thinking, you will not know him but he has an institute where their head was called Amabilia. The institute ended up being called “odiobilia”, because the members realized that this woman was a “Hitler” in the dress.

6.C is another obstacle to true Christian service, and this is very subtle: disloyalty. We meet him when someone wants to serve the Lord but also serves other things that are not the Lord (and behind other things, there is always money). It’s a bit like playing a double game! In words we say that we want to serve God and others, but in fact we serve our ego, and we bend to our desire to appear, to obtain recognition, appreciation… Let’s not forget that the real service is free and unconditional, it knows neither calculations nor pretensions. Moreover, true service habitually forgets the things it has done to serve others. It happens, all of you have the experience, when they thank you [and say]: “For what?” – “For what she did…” – “But what did I do?” … And then it comes to mind. It’s a service, period.

And we fall into the trap of disloyalty when we present ourselves to others as the only interpreters of the charism, the only heirs of our association or movement – that case I mentioned earlier -; or when, considering ourselves indispensable, we do everything to hold positions for life; or even when we pretend to decide a priori who should be our successor. Does this happen? Yes, it happens. And more often than we think. No one is the master of the gifts received for the good of the Church – we are administrators -, no one must suffocate them, but let them grow, with me or with what comes after me. Each one, where placed by the Lord, is called to make them grow, to make them bear fruit, confident in the fact that it is God who works all in all (cf. 1 Cor 12:6) and that our true good bears fruit in ecclesial communion.

7. Dear friends, in carrying out the role of government entrusted to us, let us learn to be authentic servants of the Lord and of our brothers and sisters, let us learn to say “we are uselessservants” (Lk 17:10). Let us keep in mind this expression of humility, of docility to the will of God who does so much good to the Church and recalls the right attitude to work in her: humble service, of which Jesus gave us the example, washing the feet of the disciples (cf. Jn 13:3-17; Angelus,6 October 2019).

8. In the Dicastery’s document, reference is made to the founders. That seems very wise to me. Founder should not be changed, he continues, forward. Simplifying a little, I would say that it is necessary to distinguish, in ecclesial movements (and also in religious congregations), between those who are in the process of formation and those who have already acquired a certain organic and juridical stability. They are two different realities. The first, the institutes, also have the founder alive.

Although all institutes – whether religious or lay movements – have the duty to verify, in assemblies or chapters, the state of the foundational charism and make the necessary changes in their legislation (which will then be approved by the respective Dicastery); instead in the institutes in formation – and I say in formation in a broader sense: the institutes that have lived the founder, and for this reason we speak of the founder for life in the Decree – which are in the foundational phase, this verification of the charism is more continuous, so to speak. Therefore, in the document, there is talk of a certain stability of the superiors during this phase. It is important to make this distinction in order to be able to move more freely in discernment.

We are living members of the Church and for this we need to trust in the Holy Spirit, who acts in the life of every association, of every member, acts in each of us. Hence the trust in the discernment of charisms entrusted to the authority of the Church. Be aware of the apostolic power and prophetic gift that are being given to you today in a renewed way.

Thank you for your listening. And one thing: when I read the draft of the Decree, which I then signed – the first draft -, I thought. “But this is too rigid! Life is missing, it is missing…”. But dear ones, the language of Canon Law is like this! And here it is a thing of law, it is a thing of language. But we must, as I have tried to do, see what this language means, the law. That’s why I wanted to explain it well. And also to explain the temptations that are behind it, that we have seen and that do so much harm to movements and also to religious and lay institutes.

Thank you for your listening, and thank you to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life for organizing this meeting. I wish you all good work and a good journey, and a good meeting. Say everything that comes to you from the heart in this. Ask for the things you want to ask, clarify the situations. This is a meeting to do this, to make Church, for us. And do not forget to pray for me, because I need it. It is not easy to be Pope, but God helps. God always helps.

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