· Benedict XVI's pastoral plan ·
In his first message to the cardinal electors with which he concluded the conclave that elected him Roman Pontiff, Benedict XVI forcefully reaffirmed his “determination to continue to put the Second Vatican Council into practice, following in the footsteps of my Predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2,000-year tradition of the Church” (20 April 2005). And four days later, in his homily at the beginning of his Pontificate he made known that his true programme of governance was none other than setting himself “to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and will of the Lord” and, he said of himself, “to be guided by him so that he himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history”..
In remembering the Pope's words and in reviewing the projects and teachings that he has imparted in his almost seven years since that time, those firm initial intentions have proven to be translated into reality. This is shown by his actions of governance in the face of grave difficulties, in the ranks of the Church herself or in specific geographical areas in which wisdom, firmness and pastoral charity were combined in the Pope with his exquisite evangelical simplicity and have reliably and positively shown the remedy and the route to follow in the Church's mission towards her goal. It would be necessary to say the same of the pastoral initiatives promoted by Benedict XVI and punctuated by his rich Magisterium in the course of this period such as, to mention only the most extraordinary: the celebration of the Year for Priests and of the Pauline Year, his Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations, the various Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops, the World Youth Day, the World Meetings for Families and his Apostolic Journeys.
Now the Pope's invitation is crystallizing in the New Evangelization, which is not a fashionable, opportune and original pastoral event in a specific epoch. Rather it means bringing to conclusion in today's world the missionary mandate of always which Christ entrusted to the Apostles and, with them, to the entire Church. In our time it must be put into practice in new scenarios, especially in the most secularized contexts where “the grammar of the faith” has been lost, and therefore that of human nature, because people have forgotten, if not rejected, God. This is the fundamental proposal of the Year of Faith which the Holy Father has proclaimed. It is explained in his Letter Port Fidei and in the recent Note from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith it is transposed it into concrete initiatives.
This task is a true “pastoral plan” of the Pope which must serve as a model for the whole Church, starting with the bishops' conferences, the dioceses, the parishes and the religious congregations, as well as the movements and associations of the faithful.
It is not a matter of “doing” or “organizing” mere events of simply seeking in faith “solutions” for the ever changing situation. The orientation is the converse: it is starting from God, from faith in him, from the Depositum Fidei entrusted to the Church which must be reinterpreted, it is illuminating and guiding the changing human realities. Only in God can the whole creation acquire true consistence and realism. The recovery of theocentrism, also in the Church, is the proposa; renewed by Benedict XVI. Hence it is not a mere external change, but an interior and essential change that begins for each person individually with conversion ( conversio ad Deum ) and is expressed in holiness and in apostolic testimony.
As a guide the Pope suggests to us the Second Vatican Council documents, understood as starting from the “hermeneutic of reform”, in continuity with the Tradition of the Church, and not from the erroneous “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, as well as from the knowledge and assimilation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which contains the core of the Christian faith. It is a true educational emergency, of spiritual, moral and liturgical life, to which we are all invited by the Pope in order to ensure – as he himself pointed out at the beginning of his pontificate and recalls in Porta Fidei – that the Church “set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance”.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 22, 2020
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