"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More on Pope Francis from George Weigel

I had been waiting for this since yesterday, and finally this morning there it was... George Weigel's commentary on the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis I.   Read the whole thing, but here's my favorite part:

In our May 2012 conversation, the man who would become pope discussed at some length the importance of the Latin American bishops’ 2007 “Aparecida Document,” the fruit of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. The essential message of that revolutionary statement... can be gleaned from this brief passage, which I adopted as one of the epigrams for my book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church:
The Church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission. . . . It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats.. . . What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel . . . out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries.... 
A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. . . . We must all start again from Christ, recognizing [with Pope Benedict XVI] that “being Christian is . . . the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
The growing religions in the world do not offer a wishy-washy, watered-down, weak version of their faiths to a distracted post-modern world.   Religions that want to grow offer a strong program for changing the entire person who believes.   For Catholics, that program is what Weigel calls the "symphony of truth" of Catholicism.   It does not take polls; it does not care what CNN pundits think about how the Church should change or adapt to the prevailing winds.   It says, without equivocation, that these things are true, these things are facts, these facts will change you and save you and give you authentic and eternal life.  

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