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Pope Francis' pastoral theological legacy after 10 years of pontificate

10 messages of Francis from his 10 years of Pontificate. This is how Msgr. Mariano Fazio, auxiliary vicar of Opus Dei, summarizes the legacy that the Pope has left to the Church and society from 2013 until today. These ideas were presented at an event recently organized by the Academy of Catholic Leaders and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Mariano Fazio-March 13, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes
fazio pope francisco

Photo: Pope Francis greets Mariano Fazio during an audience in November 2021.

I would like to underline some points from the Magisterium of Pope Francis, which are helping to renew the faith of the Church always within the tradition.

Ten years is a long time, so it is necessarily a selection of ideas.

"The name of God is mercy.".

In reminding us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy, Pope Francis raises a reality that St. John Paul II insisted on so strongly: he tells us that the proclamation of the kerigma is the fundamental message of the Christian faith. God became incarnate to save us, dying on the Cross and opening to us the doors of his forgiveness through his infinite mercy.

The Beatitudes, the heart of the Gospel.

Both the beatitudes and chapter 25 of the Gospel of St. Matthew - where the foolish and wise virgins, the parable of the talents and the final judgment are spoken of - are the heart of the Gospel, because these texts reveal the divine mercy and its welcome in the heart of each person.

Marriage, participation in God's love.

At Amoris laetitiaeThe Pope rereads the hymn of love from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which allows us to understand that the love of spouses is a participation in the love of God: "I may have faith that can move mountains; if I do not have love, I am nothing," says St. Paul.

And the Pope adds in his apostolic exhortation: "We will not be able to encourage a path of fidelity and mutual dedication if we do not stimulate the growth, consolidation and deepening of conjugal and family love.". He proposes, in particular, that three words be used in the family to stimulate this love: thank you, pardon, permission.

The Good Samaritan, an inspiration to welcome others.

In the encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Pope suggests a re-reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan. He traces its antecedents in the Old Testament and asks the reader which character he identifies with.

Looking at today's world and even at the Church, he affirms: "There are still those who seem to feel encouraged or at least authorized by their faith to sustain various forms of closed and violent nationalism, xenophobic attitudes, contempt and even mistreatment of those who are different". Francis invites that in catechesis and preaching we should be more mindful of speaking of the dignity of each person.

The sanctity "next door"..

At Gaudete et exsultateFrancis brings holiness closer to ordinary life, recalling those daily gestures that we can bring to fullness with the presence of God. He says: "I like to see holiness in the patient people of God: in the parents who raise their children with so much love, in those men and women who work to bring home the bread, in the sick, in the elderly nuns who keep smiling. In this constancy to go on day by day, I see the holiness of the Church militant. This is often the holiness next doorof those who live close to us and are a reflection of God's presence, or, to use another expression, 'the middle class of holiness'".

To the young: God is Love. Christ saves. Live.

These three realities make up the experiential kerygmatic proclamation that Francis wants to transmit to you. "You will not know the true fullness of being young," he says in Christus vivit-If you do not meet the great friend every day, if you do not live in friendship with Jesus. And he adds that friends help us to mature and are, at the same time, a reflection of the Lord's affection.

Having friends teaches us to open up, to understand, to care for others, to get out of our comfort zone. For this reason, friendship with Jesus transforms, because he "wants you as his instruments to spread light and hope, because he wants to count on your courage, freshness and enthusiasm". The Lord invites everyone to the missionary proclamation in "any environment, even in the existential peripheries, even to those who seem the most distant, the most indifferent".

Contagiousness of the joy of the Gospel.

The Pope invites us to live and transmit the joy of the Gospel, and reminds us of this with expressions such as: "Do not have the face of Lent without Easter". In other words, the Christian must renew hope - sometimes so many times a day - because "God can act in any circumstance, even in the midst of apparent failures". Pessimism is not Christian. Whoever gives himself to God out of love will be fruitful.

"Such fruitfulness is often invisible, unfertile, it cannot be counted. One knows well that one's life will bear fruit, but without pretending to know how, or where, or when". Nothing done for love is lost: no work, no sincere concern, no act of love for God, no generous fatigue... But this waiting does not imply inactivity or a passive attitude since, in the mystery of an apparent sterility, "we only know that our dedication is necessary".

Caring for and protecting the common home.

Drawing inspiration from the words of the saint of Assisi -"Laudato si'"-Pope Francis recalls the need to care for the earth, which has been entrusted to us by God. "I urgently invite you to a new dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. We need a conversation that unites us all, because the environmental challenge we are experiencing, and its human roots, concern and impact us all."

The Pope underlines the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, with the conviction that everything in the world is connected. He also denounces the throwaway culture and proposes a basis for developing a new human ecology.

Faith, light to see ourselves and to see as Christ does.

The Pope dedicated his first encyclical to faith. Lumen fidei explains that faith helps us to participate in the vision of Jesus. "For faith, Christ is not only the one in whom we believe, the ultimate manifestation of God's love, but also the one with whom we unite ourselves in order to believe. Faith does not only look at Jesus, but looks from Jesus' point of view, with his eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing."

He also pointed out that it is urgent to recover the luminous character proper to faith, "because when its flame is extinguished, all the other lights end up languishing". Faith, says the Pope, is born of an encounter with the living God, who calls us and reveals his love to us, "a love that precedes us and on which we can rely to be sure and build our lives".

Pity and the revolution of tenderness.

The Pope made numerous references to Christian devotions that can provoke a revolution in the life of Christians if they are lived with tenderness: he invited us to put up the crib at Christmas to welcome God (Admirabile Signum)has written about St. Joseph so that we can learn to be the custodians of others. (Patris Corde) and we know that he goes to greet the Virgin Mary in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore every time he returns from a trip. These are the gestures of a son from whom we learn to be children of the Father.

The authorMariano Fazio

Priest, historian and professor. Current auxiliary vicar of Opus Dei.

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