Pope tells Jesuits inclusivity, doctrinal evolution, synodality are crucial to Church

‘The water has been agitated’

 ‘The water has been agitated’  ING-035
01 September 2023

On 5 August, during his Apostolic Journey to Portugal for World Youth Day, Pope Francis met with Jesuits at the Colégio de São João de Brito, a school run by the Society of Jesus. After thanking the Provincial Father for his greetings the Pope expressed his desire to have “a fraternal and open dialogue”.

The Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica published a transcript of that dialogue. In the conversation, the Holy Father addressed a range of topics, sharing insights on the Church’s challenges and his vision for inclusivity, doctrinal development, and the Synod.

Throughout World Youth Day in Lisbon, the rallying cry for an all-embracing Church resonated powerfully with the words “Todos, todos” (Everyone, everyone), pronounced by Pope Francis as he stressed that there is “room for everyone” in the Church. He emphasized the importance of creating a space for “everyone, everyone” irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, within the Church.

He critiqued the disproportionate fixation that we often have with the “sin of the flesh”, while other “offenses” often remain overlooked. He emphasized the need for a pastorally sensitive and imaginative approach to accompany individuals on their spiritual journeys.

He emphasized the need to reach out to marginalized communities who often grapple with feelings of rejection, and he accentuated the significance of empathy and compassion.

Addressing critical global concerns, Pope Francis conveyed deep apprehension over the persistent prevalence of wars since the end of World War ii : “All over the world, wars have never ceased.... It’s useless to add more words”. He spotlighted the contemporary state of global affairs and underscored the imperative of seeking peaceful resolutions.

The dialogue delved into tensions existing within the Church, including reactionary attitudes and resistance to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council. The Pontiff acknowledged the intricate challenges posed by those who question “Vatican ii without explicitly naming it”. He underscored the dynamic nature of doctrinal evolution and expounded on the notion that Church doctrine is not an unchanging monolith, but rather an evolving entity. He invoked historical instances such as the changing perspectives on the death penalty, nuclear weapons, and slavery to illustrate the fluidity of doctrine over time.

Pope Francis expressed apprehensions about the encroachment of excessive worldliness into religious life. He cautioned against compromising core values with the allure of worldly ideologies. Referring to his recent letter to Rome’s priests, he cautioned against succumbing to spiritual worldliness and the potential harm it could inflict on the Church. He further explored the challenges posed by a society permeated with an “eroticized” ethos and the implications of issues like pornography in the digital age. He then continued on a major problem of “hidden refuges” of self-seeking, which many times involve sexuality. What should one do? Pray and examine one’s conscience so as “to see what’s going on inside you”, he continued. Unfortunately there are consecrated people who have their heart exposed “to the four winds which means they have have no “internal consistency”.

Then the Holy Father continued his conversation by addressing the serious problems that exist in poor neighbourhoods, which he said are no more serious than those that sometimes exist in other residential areas, but in these areas these problems remain hidden. The “poor have a special wisdom” and “we must work with the perspective of helping them to walk” with dignity, he affirmed.

Finally, Pope Francis conveyed his anticipation regarding the impending Synod, a gathering of Church leaders to deliberate on significant matters. He clarified that the Synod was not his brainchild; instead, it aims to restore synodality within the Church — a concept first championed by Pope Paul vi . He emphasized that the driving force behind the Synod was the Holy Spirit, guiding its deliberations devoid of political bias or a focus on garnering votes.

The full text of the interview can be found on: https://www.laciviltacattolica.com/the-water-has-been-agitated/