Pope Francis Address to CELAM 2: God’s Voice, A Father To Children

Continuing with this address of the Holy Father to his brother bishops of Latin America. More typical of his writing and speaking, and well within Ignatian expectations, the personalism of God to believers:

When God speaks to us in Jesus, he does not nod vaguely to us as if we were strangers, or deliver an impersonal summons like a solicitor, or lay down rules to be followed like certain functionaries of the sacred.  God speaks with the unmistakable voice of the Father to his children; he respects the mystery of (humankind) because he formed us with his own hands and gave us a meaningful purpose.  Our great challenge as a Church is to speak to men and women about this closeness of God, who considers us his sons and daughters, even when we reject his fatherhood.  For him, we are always children to be encountered anew.

One aspect I find so interesting is how well this jives with Pope John Paul II’s approach to ministry–a personalism that devotes itself to encountering people, finding and seeking them out where they are. Can we expect, reasonably, to have our programs be successful if they treat people as cogs in a damaged machine that needs tending? Likely not:

The Gospel, then, cannot be reduced to a program at the service of a trendy gnosticism, a project of social improvement or the Church conceived as a comfortable bureaucracy, any more than she can be reduced to an organization run according to modern business models by a clerical caste.

My observation is that many Catholics of both traditional and progressive leanings have material for self-conviction here. Speaking from my own perspective as a music director, do I see people as needing to successfully pass through a gateway (audition) in order to serve? Is repertoire chosen from the “comfort” of a spreadsheet and Lectionary/Antiphonary?

In the larger Church, do we place too much emphasis on what we learn from secular models of business, economics, social work, and the like? The model of Christ is the personal encounter. I  have yet to hear a convincing case otherwise. Comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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