Pope Francis has taken the world by surprise. There are so many, early, yet beautiful signs and important gestures from the Holy Father of great importance for the Church and the world. Many people are highlighting his humility, charity, poverty and prayer life. These are so true and most important. In a his first words as Pope at the “Missa pro Ecclesia” he said some radical works of the centrality of Christ (1), and in his address to Cardinal’s he mentioned the importance of hope and evangelization (2):
(1)We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord… When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.”
(2) strive to respond faithfully to the Church’s perennial mission: to bring Jesus Christ to mankind and to lead mankind to an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, truly present in the Church and also in every person…. the Holy Spirit bestows upon the Church, with his powerful breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, so as to bring to Gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the profound need of human life, proclaiming convincingly that Christ is the one Saviour of the whole man and of all men. This proclamation remains as valid today as it was at the origin of Christianity, when the first great missionary expansion of the Gospel took place.
However, the theme of Creation, as anticipated in my last post, is gaining much importance as well, though it will never, and should not, be The central theme. None the less it is an important theme that Pope Benedict XVI anticipated as a key sign of the times, and which Pope Francis will further develop. In his speech to the media, Pope Francis explained the choice of his name:
Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!
No, we do not have a good relationship with creation. As if that weren’t enough, in his now common improvisational and off the cuff gestures and words, he blessed a labrador dog who accompanied a journalist to make the point. The blind journalist Allesandro Forlani who attended the media address said that it was the Pope’s security guards who told him the Pope wanted to meet him. Overwhelmed by the unexpected gesture, the journalist asked the Pope to bless his wife and daughter, but that the first one to receive the blessing was his 8 year old labrador, Asia. This is what this kind man said to the secular media in his speech:
I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know ever better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the rich reality of the Church’s life.