by Gianni Valente
Rome (Agenzia Fides) - In the pilgrimage of the Church through History, the tenth anniversary of the beginning of a Pontificate is not a big deal. Pope Francis, who also read and consulted extensively the great History of the Popes by Ludwig Von Pastor when he was younger, knows this well.
On this tenth anniversary of his papal election, everyone is talking about him, the spotlight and attention is being turned on him, with a "zoom effect" that risks separating the Successor of Peter from the rest of the Body that is the Church.
He - and this is what matters - in his ordinary magisterium has always indicated something other than himself. He referred to realities and facts greater than his own person.
In recent years, in his ordinary magisterium, Pope Francis has attested that the dynamism proper to the Christian event has its only source in the grace of Christ, in the mystery of His action.
In his ordinary magisterium, the current Successor of Peter confessed the sacramental nature of the Church, its dependence on the action of the Holy Spirit. He repeated that only Christ heals, redeems and saves.
Over the years, in his ordinary magisterium, Pope Francis has confessed that Christ is found in prayer, in the sacraments and in his favorites, who are the poor. He repeated things he had not invented, each time he insisted that mercy, forgiveness and charity are the distinctive features of the newness which entered the world with Jesus.
In his ordinary magisterium, Pope Francis proclaimed the Gospel as such, and not as a pretext for developing strategies or projects, nor as a premise from which to deduce ethical or sociological or cultural, political, theological and anthropological considerations.
With his own style, Pope Francis has been repeating the same thing since the beginning of his Pontificate: that the Church does not live by its own power, it does not place itself in history and in the world as a self-sufficient and preconstituted entity. She recognizes herself at every moment in need of the miracle of the Spirit of Christ. And these are the only facts of reality that can make the Church interesting for the men and women of the present time. The rest is old or new clericalism.
In his ordinary magisterium, speaking of the mission entrusted to the Church, Pope Francis has always repeated that faith is communicated by "attraction" and not by proselytism, simply because no one goes to Jesus if he is not attracted by him, if Jesus himself does not give the pleasure and the joy of being attracted to Him. Even in his last sermon, the Bishop of Rome, beginning the new cycle of catechesis on the "passion to evangelize, that is, apostolic zeal", repeated that "we do not announce ourselves- We are not announcing a political party, an ideology, no: we are announcing Jesus. We must put Jesus in contact with people, without convincing them, but allowing the Lord to convince" (see Fides, 11/1/2023).
In the exercise of his function as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis did not spare himself, even physical self-consumption. Not as the director of a multinational with an "expiry mandate", but as a "sinner" (his definition), following the criterion already expressed by his teacher Saint Ignatius of Loyola: "Act as if everything depended on you, knowing that in reality everything depends on God".
During his first ten years of pontificate, Pope Francis indicated something other than himself. That is what he had to do. And he did.
Over the past decade, so many events in the Church and in the world have made it even more evident that the Church and the world are increasingly in need of healing. And the condition of the Church that walks in history is that of the beggar woman who can only stretch out her hand to her Lord. The idea that the Church "purifies" itself and eradicates evil with human and ecclesiastical instruments, protocols and operations of institutional engineering, which are not miracles of Christ, can become the expression of an impious arrogance, in the long run more devastating than any human misery.
Faced with the dizzying mission that awaits the Church for the salvation of the world, Pope Francis' last problem seems to be "finishing the work", "carrying out the program" attributed to him by the media-focused elite, inside and outside the church structure.
In the time that has passed since March 13, 2013, even the limitations, incompleteness and very human errors of the Bishop of Rome - often publicly acknowledged, and for which he himself has apologized so many times - contribute to attesting that the Church is not saved by men. Not even the poor man called to be Pope, the "poor Christ" called to be "Vicar of Christ", as Pope Luciani said to the cardinals who had just elected him as Successor of Peter. Therefore, in the Church, even certain "incompletenesses" can be blessed, if they reveal once more that the Church does not shine, cannot shine with her own light and that, in her earthly pilgrimage, she always implores the grace of Christ, who purifies her and “reforms” her.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Pontificate, media circles speculate about the "seeds" of the Bergoglian Pontificate that have not yet ripened, they discuss missed "achievements" and half-failures. They split hairs and harass the Sovereign Pontiff himself by asking him questions about his possible resignation.
On the contrary, it is possible to imagine that Pope Francis will continue to repeat and recall the things he has said so far, always the same: Jesus, the poor, the Gospel, the Church called not to not turn in on itself and follow Christ; the closeness that heals wounds and embraces human reality as it is; fraternity as recognition of the common destiny of the human family, and as the only possibility of not being overwhelmed by the sirens of those who want to "accelerate the apocalypse" and light the fires of the new world war throughout the world. His concerns and his tears will all be aimed at the abysses of pain into which the brothers and sisters of this time are engulfed, and not at the "missed targets", real or supposed, of the Pontificate. In times to come, his spiritual peace will always rest on the serene recognition that it is Christ himself and his Spirit who guide the Church. And in the Church's journey through history, the Lord sows the seeds and causes them to blossom, as and when he wills.
Thus, by continuing on the path, Pope Francis will also be able to fully embrace the Mystery linked to his ministry as Successor of Peter, the sinful sinner crucified upside down on Vatican Hill. Following in the footsteps of Saint Peter, his successors learned time and time again, even from their own mortified intentions, to leave all the initiative to the action of Christ and his Spirit.
On this journey, the Successor of Peter will be protected by the prayers of the people of God, who continue to bless him, as he did at his request on that rainy evening ten years ago, when the new bishop of Rome first appeared in St. Peter's Square. The people of the earth's poor, who recognize with their "infallible" sensus fidei the scent of their pastor, and who repeat for him the prayers of all time: "Let us pray for our Pope Francis May the Lord preserve him, give him life, make him happy on earth and do not leave him a prey to his enemies". (Agenzia Fides, 13/3/2023)
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