INTERVIEW WITH HIS FELLOW JESUITS
These quotes represent answers to questions submitted by 12 fellow Jesuits, editors of Jesuit publications in different countries. The questions were selected and organized by a committee and sent to Fr. Spidarow, the editor of the Italian publication, La Civiltá Cattólica in Rome, who met personally with the Pope for three hours of conversation over seven different days. The original was taken down in Italian. Our quotes are from the English version prepared by the Editors of America publication under the title (A BIG HEART OPEN TO GOD: A CONVERSATION WITH POPE FRANCIS (America Press. Kindle Edition. 2013, pp. 12-15).
THE GOD OF FRANCIS under discussion topic: TO SEEK AND FIND GOD IN ALL THINGS
“But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God… The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is—these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defense. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today. “God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes.”
Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach. A contemplative attitude is necessary: it is the feeling that you are moving along the good path of understanding and affection toward things and situations. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.” (Kindle Locations 384-386).
THE GOSPEL AND VATICAN II under discussion topic: VATICAN II
“Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture,” says the pope. “Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous…
Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualizing its message for today—which was typical of Vatican II—is absolutely irreversible. (Kindle Locations 362-364).
the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.” (Kindle Locations 366-368).
PAPAL SUPREMACY AND INFALLIBILITY under discussion topics: THINKING WITH THE CHURCH and CERTITUDE AND MISTAKES
THINKING WITH THE CHURCH
“The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12)… There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. (Kindle Locations 213-215)…”And the church is the people of God on the journey through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together….misunderstandings: “And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of ‘holy mother the hierarchical church,’ as St. Ignatius called it,…”(Kindle Locations 225-228).
CERTITUDE AND MISTAKES
“Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation. (Kindle Locations 390-394).
Abraham leaves his home without knowing where he was going, by faith. All of our ancestors in the faith died seeing the good that was promised, but from a distance…. Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing…. We must enter into the adventure of the quest for meeting God; we must let God search and encounter us. (Kindle Locations 399-401).
“If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists —they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.” (Kindle Locations 412-413).
“Christian hope is not a ghost and it does not deceive. It is a theological virtue and therefore, ultimately, a gift from God that cannot be reduced to optimism, which is only human. God does not mislead hope; God cannot deny himself. God is all promise.” (Kindle Locations 427-429).
ROMAN BUREAUCRACY AND ECUMENISM under discussion topic: THE ROMAN CURIA and A RELIGIOUS ORDER POPE
“The Roman congregations are mediators; they are not middlemen or managers. We must walk together: the people, the bishops and the pope. Synodality should be lived at various levels. Maybe it is time to change the methods of the Synod of Bishops,… our Orthodox brethren. From them we can learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality…(Kindle Locations 338-341). “How…harmony, Petrine primacy and collegiality?…walk together: the people, the bishops and the pope.” (Kindle location 338….begun in 2007 by the joint [Catholic-Orthodox] commission on how to exercise the Petrine primacy, which led to the signing of the Ravenna Document. We must continue on this path.” (Kindle locations 343-344).
A RELIGIOUS ORDER POPE
“Religious men and women are prophets,” says the pope. (Kindle Location 319).fruitfulness. “In the church, the religious are called to be prophets in particular by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the kingdom of God will be in its perfection.” (Kindle Locations 322-323).
“…prophecy. This does not mean opposing the hierarchical part of the church, although the prophetic function and the hierarchical structure do not coincide.” (Kindle Locations 323-324). “…making waves. I do not know how to put it…. Prophecy makes noise, uproar, some say ‘a mess.’ But in reality, the charism of religious people is like yeast: prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.” (Kindle Locations 326-327).
THE LAITY AN EQUAL COMPONENT under discussion topic: THINKING WITH THE CHURCH
“…St. Ignatius called it, the church as the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people. “I see the sanctity of God’s people, this daily sanctity,” the pope continues. “There is a ‘holy middle class,’ which we can all be part of,… “I see the holiness,” the pope continues, “in the patience of the people of God: a woman who is raising children, a man who works to bring home the bread, the sick,… the sisters who work hard and live a hidden sanctity…. “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. (Kindle Location 240-242).
REFORM IN THE CHURCH under discussion topic: CHURCH AS A FIELD HOSPITAL and FRONTIERS AND LABORATORIES; HUMAN SELF-UNDERSTANDING
CHURCH AS A FIELD HOSPITAL
“God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude.” (Kindle location 275-279).“Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person…We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. (Kindle Locations 294-296).
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently (Kindle Locations 305-306). ….But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. (Kindle Locations 312-313).
FRONTIERS AND LABORATORIES
“When I insist on the frontier, I am referring in a particular way to the need for those who work in the world of culture to be inserted into the context in which they operate and on which they reflect. (Kindle Locations 477-478)… God has revealed himself as history, not as a compendium of abstract truths.” (Kindle Location 479).
Francis quotes St. Vincent of Lerins: “Even the dogma of the Christian religion must follow these laws, consolidating over the years, developing over time, deepening with age…”St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens…So we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the church to mature in her own judgment. Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding. There are ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now they have lost value or meaning. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong…When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself.” (Kindle Locations 502-514).
THOUGHTS ON LIFE IN THE SPIRIT throughout discussion topics of previous QUOTES above and WHO IS JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO; THE MODEL: PETER FABER, ‘REFORMED PRIEST’; PRAYER
WHO IS JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO
replies: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description…. I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” (Kindle Locations 78-79).
“Jesus saw a publican, and since he looked at him with feelings of love and chose him, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (The calling of Matthew fittest description.ME)
“I like to translate it with another gerund that does not exist: misericordiando [“mercy-ing”].” (Kindle Locations 80-82).
What element of Ignatian spirituality helps you live your ministry?” “Discernment,” he replies. “Discernment is one of the things that worked inside St. Ignatius. For him it is an instrument of struggle in order to know the Lord and follow him more closely.” (Kindle Locations 108-111).
PETER FABER, ‘REFORMED PRIEST’
“Ignatius is a mystic, not an ascetic,… silence. An interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises that emphasizes asceticism, silence and penance is a distorted one….I am rather close to the mystical movement, that of Louis Lallement and Jean-Joseph Surin. And Faber was a mystic.” (Kindle Locations 182-186).
“…later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying.” (Kindle Locations 519-521).
“…I also know that the Lord remembers me. I can forget about him, but I know that he never, ever forgets me.” (Kindle Locations 526-527).
“…a fundamental role for the heart…memory of grace, the… memory of God’s works that are the basis of the covenant between God and the people. It is this memory that makes me his son and that makes me a father, too.” (Kindle Locations 528-529).
There are many other sources for quotes of Pope Francis. These have special significance because they are taken from an interview early in his papacy (2013-12-15) and were directed to topics with questions from his fellow Jesuits. They presage the strategy and style of the following two and a half years of his papacy.