Pope's teachings

Love overcomes fear

Love conquers fear. These are some of the Pope's teachings so far this year: in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia and in his messages for the World Day of Peace and the World Day of the Sick.

Ramiro Pellitero-February 3, 2020-Reading time: 5 minutes

In his address to the Roman Curia on the occasion of Christmas greetings (December 21, 2019), Francis stressed that love conquers fear. Even the fear of change, which is necessary to be faithful.

Overcoming fear by trusting in God

Francis has taken his cue from Newman's thought. The saintly English cardinal writes: "Here on earth to live is to change, and perfection is the result of many transformations." (cfr. The development of Christian doctrine). And another time: "There is nothing stable apart from you, my God [...] I know, my God, that a change must take place in me if I am to be able to contemplate your face" (Meditations and prayers).

Also according to the Bible, the human heart needs to go through a way of conversion: "Paradoxically." -The Pope remarked. "needs to leave in order to remain, to change in order to be faithful.". Today, in the midst of a serious anthropological, faith and ecological crisis, we have this need. "The problem" -Here Francis takes up an argument from the encyclical Laudato si'- "is that we do not yet have the necessary culture to face this crisis and it is necessary to build leaderships that lead the way".

It is in this perspective that the Pope places the reform of the Curia, giving orientations and criteria that in some way serve for the Christian and ecclesial renewal of all of us, in the midst of what Benedict XVI called "deep crisis of faith" y "eclipse of the sense of God".

Specifically, it offers three proposals. First: so that the tradition (the delivery of faith) continues to live on a renewed evangelization is neededbecause it must be recognized that "today we are not the only ones producing culture, nor the first, nor the most listened to".. Faith is not - especially in Europe, but even in much of the West - an obvious presupposition of common life, and is even frequently denied, marginalized and ridiculed. 

A second point is the importance of communication in a digitalized culturewhich favors images over listening and reading, and thus affects the way of learning and the development of a critical sense (cfr. Christus vivit, 86). This requires us, says the Pope, greater coordination and teamworkto promote integral human development. 

Third, taking as a living model the Incarnation of the Son of God, "humanity is the distinctive key to read the reform".. Attention to the key: "Humanity."says Francisco, "calls, interrogates and provokes, i.e., calls to go out and not be afraid of change.". Here is the third proposal.

For this, some circumstances provide a whole bath of realism: 1) "in the present there are people who irremediably need time to mature."; 2) "there are historical circumstances that must be handled on a day-to-day basis, since during the reform the world and events do not stop"; 3) "there are legal and institutional issues that must be resolved gradually, without magic formulas or shortcuts."4) history and human error must be taken into account; retreating into the past may be more comfortable but it is not the best thing to do; it is necessary to overcome the temptation of rigidity and fear of change, since this leads to an imbalance that does not help but hinders. 

It is necessary - the Pope concludes - to open oneself to the path of faith, trust, courage and divine love. "that inspires, directs and corrects the transformation, and defeats the human fear of leaving the sure thing to launch into the mystery"and thus be able to participate in the salvation that God offers to each person and to the world.

Peace and education in freedom and responsibility

The message for the LIII World Day of Peace -published on December 8, 2019-, celebrated on January 1, opens under the sign of hope, and takes the form of "dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion".

In this message the Pope alludes to his speech on nuclear weapons (Nagasaki, 24-XI-2019) to warn that we are currently still in a war of fear, a prolongation of the "cold war". Francis warns that this "alone" can be overcome by changing the mentality in favor of solidarity and co-responsibility. "Nuclear deterrence." -says- "cannot create more than illusory security".The world is an unstable equilibrium on the edge of the abyss, enclosed within the walls of indifference and the culture of discarding. To get out of this logic, it is necessary to move forward on the path of the dialogue and the fraternity. And to do so, to revalue memory and appeal to moral conscience and personal and political will. "The world does not need empty words, but convinced witnesses, artisans of peace open to dialogue without exclusion or manipulation.".

This underlines, as St. Paul VI pointed out, the importance of education not only in rights, but also in duties and responsibilities, in self-control and in the limits of our own freedom (cfr. Octogesima adveniens, 1971, n. 24). This quote is interesting in the present moment of our culture. An instrument to advance in this linePatient work based on the power of words and truth can awaken in people the capacity for compassion and creative solidarity".

In addition to this, it is necessary to rely on the strength of the reconciliation and forgiveness (by giving thanks for the forgiveness of sins offered to us in the Sacrament of Penance) and of gratuitousness, both on the personal and public level. Christ has reconciled all things to God (cf. Col 1:20), "and asks us to put down any violence in our thoughts, words and actions, both towards our fellow man and towards creation.".

Identifying with Christ to care for the sick

The XXVIII World Day of the Sick was celebrated on February 8 under the theme of Jesus: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt 11:28). In his message (January 3, 2020), Francis highlights the attitude of Jesus, who calls for closeness to him and offers his mercy. 

Jesus does this first of all with his own life, because only those who experience suffering and need first-hand will know how to be a comfort to others. This is why it is necessary to put ourselves in the place of the sick person, to provide him with the care (medical, as well as relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual) that he requires, and also his family. Those who care for the sick, as well as the sick themselves, must keep in mind that "Christ has not given us prescriptions, but by his passion, death and resurrection he frees us from the oppression of evil.".

For this reason, the sick must be able to find, especially in Christians, people who, healed by the mercy of God in their fragility, know how to help them. "to carry one's cross by making, out of one's wounds, skylights through which one can look at the horizon beyond the illness". and thus receive light and fresh air to carry on with their lives. Clearly, everything begins with respecting the dignity and life of each person. To do this, Christian professionals may sometimes have to resort to their right to the conscientious objection.

In short, prayer and discernment, listening and response, with love that overcomes fear. This is the path that Christians must travel with serenity and joy in order to contribute to the new evangelization, to peace and to the care of others. It is also to open it up to future generations.

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