Some joyful and terrifying things have happened over the Christmas season. We have read the same news reports together. We know where they lead and what stories they tell. And as with the loss of life and deprivation of many around us, we seem to have less and less to say. As we enter the new year and reflect on Epiphany and the visit of the Magi, I find myself in a place I have been so often…. I have the best of intentions, a commitment to disciplines, a worthy re-covenanting of my walk with Christ and with others…. all happily laid out for a new year, yet, so quickly wanting, in terms of my ability and indeed willingness, to live in a new year with a renewed faith.
In the midst of a broken world and for many of us, in the midst of a great need to be challenged, I want to share Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome’s speech to the operational and organizational hub of the Roman Catholic Church; the Roman Curia. I have been reluctant to share the following document ever since I heard of it just before Christmas. There are reasons for my reluctance. What possible value and relevance could this speech have to each of us? How do we step around some of the theological and cultural bits that are embedded in the document, including (but not least) the request that Mary the mother of Jesus intercede for us. Some of these differences are profound and inescapable. Some of them are trivial, and I need to get over them.
I am reluctant to share it because the document sounds so harsh. I am reluctant to share it because I believe that in reading it, I may be offering to you the same temptation that I fell into when I first read it; it went something like this, “well, someone is finally letting those so and so’s have it, setting them straight, let’s see if they actually change.” What an unattractive, inappropriate and unchristian response because much of what Francis has to say applies to many tendencies we all share.
So I have decided to share the document with you, but I want to do it by setting it up in such a way that we read it with open hearts, with an ear to the Holy Spirit, not so much looking for quotable quotes from Francis (of which there are many).