Pope Francis just keeps on going… well beyond what most consider normal for a man of his age and physical conditions.
Reports of his demise or even just retirement, are quite premature.
But there is a deeper sense of “Pope Francis just won’t stop!”
For almost 10 years he has been single-mindedly waking us up to Jesus’ vision of a global community rooted in love..
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations Matthew 28:19-20
In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I share with you what one commentator refers to as 96 hours that reveal changes in the Christian world we grew up in. I refer to the hours during August 27-30, 2022. It shows what Francis continues to work hadest at.
A church becoming visibly global
The weekend made visible the shift to a more evidently global church.
On August 27 he consecrated 20 new cardinals. The number is not the point. The significance is that so many are from countries who never had a cardinal. In fact, many around the world would not be able locate where those countries are.
In the not-too-distant past, the majority of cardinals came from Italy, then from Europe. It made news when a Pope named cardinals from North America, South America and Africa.
We now have the most globally diverse group of Cardinals. The face of the Church reflects “the whole word” Jesus spoke of... not just the Roman world.
Then on Monday, August 29 and Tuesday 30, Pope Francis invited the entire group, old and new, to learn together to listen to the Holy Spirit in their midst.
If they are to serve the whole church, then even Cardinals must learn to see beyond the concerns of individual corners of their world.
Broadening their personal horizons.
For two days they engaged in the ancient process of synodality, journeying together. Together they tried to learn how the new legal structures foster a truly global Church. The new constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, seeks to foster greater awareness and vision of a global church Jesus asked us to become. What structures will foster such a global ecclesial community today?
They face many challenges.
Their diverse experiences and geographical locations make it difficult for them to attend meetings in Rome on a regular basis. They must learn how they are at the service of local episcopal conferences rather the other way around.
One commentator pointed out some myths that must be recognized.
It’s not about liberals v. conservatives
Prelates from the developing world often can be quite traditional on doctrine, for instance, but extremely progressive on matters of social justice.
We need to stop analyzing in solely “first-world”‘ terms and polarities
Getting to get to know one another and their new responsibilities.
They have rarely been in Rome together. They face learning together the richer procedures and structures laid out in the seminal document Praedicate Evangelium.
They need to learn about and from each other. In effect, they journeyed together in synodality. This, Pope Francis reminds us, is a practice from the very beginning of the church. Each was challenged to experience learning to listen to the Spirit as did the very first council.
Many who have not previously worked at the Vatican also got some introduction to the various administrative pieces that should work together. For others, it meant learning anew what is involved in serving a more global church.
Of course, all this can’t help but have an impact on electing a pope, whenever that moment may come.
In other words, they too must learn to walk together. .. and need our prayers.
Click be;w for an ely audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk