Friday, July 26, 2013

Pope Francis Wants Catholic Youth To Make A Mess And Occupy Their Dioceses--And Listen To Their Elders

Maybe this really was an omen.

Pope Francis has continued with his spontaneous comments to his written speeches.  He came up with quite the comment in speaking with Argentinian Youth last night, and this one has been making the internet rounds.  Francis is most certainly not your average pope. I really wonder if the Cardinals had a reset button if they wouldn't use it.

The following is from the Yahoo article I read early the morning, but this link also includes more recent coverage:

....The surprise, though, came during his encounter with Argentine pilgrims, scheduled at the last minute in yet another sign of how this spontaneous pope is shaking up the Vatican's staid and often stuffy protocol.
He told the thousands of youngsters, with an estimated 30,000 Argentines registered, to get out into the streets and spread their faith and make a "mess," saying a church that doesn't go out and preach simply becomes a civic or humanitarian group.

"I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!" he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. "I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!"

 Apparently realizing the radicalness of his message, he apologized in advance to the bishops at home....(It might be fun to see some dioceses have to deal with messes of a different,  not self made sort.  I might suddenly become very youthful and idealistic.)

And then in his prepared remarks later in the evening he had this to say:

Addressing Varginha's residents, Francis acknowledged that young people in particular have a sensitivity toward injustice.
"You are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good," Francis told the crowd. "To you and all, I repeat: Never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished."

It was a clear reference to the violent protests that paralyzed parts of the country in recent weeks as Brazilians furious over rampant corruption and inefficiency within the country's political class took to the streets.

Francis blasted what he said was a "culture of selfishness and individualism" that permeates society today, demanding that those with money and power share their wealth and resources to fight hunger and poverty.  (No question at all the money is an energy source for society.  This is not a time to conserve that energy but to spread it around.)
"It is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry — this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy," he said.


I hope that Pope Francis' work from last night will have a long term effect on his campaign to purge the Church of corruption and redirect it's energy to the poor.  I found his call for making messes in dioceses quite brilliant.  Corruption in Roman Catholicism is not just a matter of the games being played in the Vatican City States.  That kind of corruption has not just trickled, but cascaded down into virtually every diocese in the Church.  This is one of the big messages of the abuse crisis.  This is one of the results of the JPII/Benedict purge of thinking bishops and consistent appointments of yes men. Cleaning out the corruption in the head will do little for the body if the rest of the parts are full of the same corruption.

I have to put together one other statement of Pope Francis' with his call for making messes,  and that was his remarks about listening to and considering the needs of elder generations. Today he again called on youth to honor their elders. It's almost as if he is marshaling his younger troops to fight in the same campaign his older troops are getting somewhat weary of fighting. He's saying those older people are not cranks and maybe you should listen to your elders.  Well, why not, he's an elder himself and he's fully engaged in changing the direction of this Church.  If he can motivate these idealistic youth in the same way Vatican II ignited another generation of youth, his campaign won't be easily stamped out by a pope who follows him.  He will have lit a spark that can't be stamped out.

I would think the fact he mentioned clericalism specifically should give more impetus to Cardinal Dolan's self examination and send a serious message to younger JPII priests.  It ain't about you and your clerical perks and careers.  Not anymore. Not under this Pope.  As for AB Chaput, I don't think calling for youth to mess up dioceses will make his day either, since he happens have found himself with one of the most messed up dioceses in the US.  He can blame that one on ingratiating himself with the Burke/Rigalli faction and his own overweening careerism. Call it karma.

For all my enthusiasm, I do have one serious concern, one fly in my ointment.  Francis is appointing too many OD and OD connected laity to his commissions.  I wish I knew what that was about because it's troubling.  Maybe he thinks OD loyalty will easily transfer to him, which may be true on an individual basis but I wonder about the organization.  Maybe he's just keeping his potential enemies close.

One last observation. I also found it very fascinating that just as the battle between his maintaining his access to his people and legitimate security concerns was heating up and coming to a head, the rains came and came and came.  Nothing like a lot of rain to damper security concerns and let Francis stay Francis.  I can't help but think of the two lightning bolts that struck the Vatican when Benedict retired.  Perhaps it actually was an omen because it happened not only on the day that Benedict announced his resignation,  February 11th, but that date was also the date on which Pius XI signed the Lateran treaty with Mussolini that resulted in the Vatican City States and provided the patrimony for the Vatican Bank.  Interesting times we live in.


  1. I liked that the Pope complimented the town (favela) on the decorations and effort they put forth for him. That was kind. I really like that Pope Francis sees these favela people as equals. That to me, is coming across. Pope Francis is saying to these poor people, "You and I are equal in God's eyes", thus, an injustice done to poor people is just as bad as if you were to treat Jesus in that way. It is not ok to have this inequality. This is what I was taught in (Catholic) grade school, so it is good to hear this message again.

    On the elderly respect issue:

    I don't understand where it could ever be considered Catholic to not respect the elders. I have read a few comments on NCR blogs where people say rude things because parishoners, priests or nuns are senior citizens and I always assumed the people suggesting those ideas were mentally disturbed. I see it as completely normal for the Pope to stress respecting elders. Am I missing something? Everyone knows young people have enthusiasm and older people have experience and that we need both in our families, lives, world, etc., don't they? I can see that the USA in general might have lost respect for elders in some situations, (youth worship in fashion, movies, etc.), but not the Church. I don't see why you would be surprised about him bringing that up. You mean because it was World Youth, and the emphasis has been on the kids themselves in the past?

  2. Nancy, I bring it up because it was not a subject that I can recall that was ever brought up at a previous WYD. JPII in fact, seemed to go out of his way to promote the idea that WYD youth were more Catholic than others and that it was their duty to evangelize their elders. This is really born out by the attitudes of the younger priests who comment on NCR. They treat the older priests like they are worthless throw aways.

    If you want to get a real feel for what I'm referring to, go to Fr Zuhlsdorf's blog-- WDTPRS. It will open your eyes.

  3. I am sorry to hear there might be people who would put down older priests. I think that has to do with the anonymity of online commenting. That is sad and I don't know what else to say about it. I am not very eloquent, so I can only say that the solace and spiritual love shared freely at close family members' funerals, my own wedding and children's baptisms was so important. I do not have words to describe my gratitude to these guys or to the nuns who inspired me to a career, got me to do my homework. All these religious people had the ability to bust through the busyness of our lives to remind us about the Holy Spirit.

    I think Pope Francis is trying to reach out to lapsed Catholics and people who need the basics, he is going over the basic Catholic values and one is "honor your mother and father" and respect the elderly, although I don't know what category that goes under, it is important to the family that we have this value of respecting the older members. You cannot learn anything if you don't respect the one teaching you. This is basic for the family and for society.

    Thanks for your blog, I like your Jesuits Team Prayer. It has given me much inner peace to pray that prayer. Your blog is a treasure.

  4. My hat is off to Pope Francis!! He is a joy!! For too many years now I have been hearing nothing but negative crap from other Catholics telling us "old white hairs" gray hairs" "hippies" to get out & join another Church when we were just telling it like it is! Nice to have a Pope on the right side of things. A blessing. Good News.

    Regarding the bolts of lightening.... an omen for sure. I was just reading about St. James the Greater and how he and his brother John, were nicknamed by Jesus, "sons of thunder." !!!!

    God bless all the young people out! Make a good mess of it!!

    I am so happy reading this. Thanks Colleen.

  5. "I would think the fact he mentioned clericalism specifically should give more impetus to Cardinal Dolan's self examination...."

    For a few seconds there, I thought you had written "Cardinal Dolan's self immolation".