A Catholic Monthly Magazine

A Climate of Loving and Caring

By Bridget Taumoepeau

In the more than seven years since Pope Francis was elected, he has shaken up the Church and the world, which seems to be divided into those who love and admire Francis and those who do not. The latter have criticised and undermined him, accusing him of fault and even heresy. This has led to rifts and sadness in the Church.

Recently, an eminent theologian, seen as a supporter of Francis and his teaching, wrote that he thought the papacy had lost its way. This article, in turn, evoked a reaction, with people reviewing the history of opposition to Popes, and how fickle we are in the way we support or oppose papal teaching, depending on whether or not it fits our own view of the direction in which the Church is, or should be, moving.

Those who support Pope Francis and laud the changes he is making are sometimes taking advantage of him. Rather than simply accepting his teaching and his pastoral approach, they are using these things to promote their side of the so-called ‘culture wars’ within the Church. Are they incorporating the goodness that he preaches into their own lives in a reflective way, or are they simply rejoicing that they have a Pope who shares their views?

Coincidentally, an article was published where Cistercian monks were interviewed about monasticism in light of the Corona virus, and the fact that we are currently forced to lead a life separated from the world. In the discussion, one of the monks commented that the longest chapter in the Rule of St Benedict, which governs the Cistercian way of life, was on humility. He said that we all have an “individualistic tendency to elevate ourselves above others”. Hence the importance of striving for humility in our lives.

His description of humility is very useful – “To be humble is not to put oneself down for the sake of another but rather, to make room for one another - to create a climate of love and caring”.

Pope Francis shows us how to be humble, in the traditional way of not being self-important, as well as “creating a climate of love and caring”. When we next reflect on the messages coming from the Vatican, may we do it in a spirit of humility – of love and care for Pope Francis, for one another and for the world.

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