POPE FRANCIS BECOMES THE SIGN OF OPPOSITION
One can see more clearly the continuity of pope Francis and his predecessors’ teaching – thinks Fr. Stefan Moszoro-Dąbrowski with whom Emilia Dróżdż talks
EMILIA DRÓŻDŻ: - Pope Francis uses the last gestures and statements cools down hopes of groups which hoped for loosening the doctrine about homosexuality or in vitro. Isn’t it going to be ‘a breakthrough of pontificate’?
FR. STEFAN MOSZORO-DĄBROWSKI: - The breakthrough has already been during the election – this is the first pope from South America. Buenos Aires is translated as ‘good air’….We are experiencing this fresh breath because the Holy Father is trying to give pastoral dynamism to preaching the Gospel, so that it would show mainly the beauty of God’s closeness and mercifulness, God’s forgiveness. He does not question the doctrine, although in his teaching about God’s mercifulness, unlike his predecessors, puts some accents. Therefore, it may sometimes seem that he does not remind moral requirements so clearly, like the earlier popes.
In order to understand the thought of Francis, I recommend reading his statements in the context of the whole teaching – which, unfortunately, is wrongly interpreted by media. We often hear it in the form of a summary, and sometimes in a wrong translation. When we read longer texts of the pope’s teaching, especially Wednesday catechesis, we see that they create a wider context, that it is a deepened teaching about Christian style of life. At present the Pope is strongly concentrating on the issue of family and puts pressure also on the values such as: faithfulness, devotion, service to others, respect to life, care about chastity. He openly opposes to abortion, euthanasia and in vitro. If somebody knows the teaching of cardinal Bergoglio and reflects deeply on the everyday teaching of Francis, it is obvious that he is faithful to the Gospel. He preaches the Gospel and calls for conversion. It might have not been in the last times of the pope who often spoke about confession. Francis undertakes this issue every week. As we can guess, it must be the year 2016 which he named the Year of Mercifulness.
The Holy Father becomes the sign of opposition. In the first place, in his radical lifestyle, he is going against any trends of materialism and in his simple religiousness he opposes to desacralisation. Going out to the weak and ill he teaches that every life is valuable. In his teaching he shows that principles which are governing the world today, are deeply inhuman because they are based on profit, material progress at any cost, excluding the human good. The Holy Father criticizes the culture of pragmatism which tells us to force one’s way to gain an aim. He notes that the contemporary times produce many excluded people – they are, for example, children and elderly people, inhabitants of North Africa and poor countries of Asia, unemployed and ill people.
– In what aspects is there the continuity of bishopric teaching of pope Francis?
– Being an archbishop in Argentina, he strongly defended marriage and family, opposed to abortion and euthanasia. He paid much attention to the poor and the excluded. He was not afraid of populist authority, which was trying to make him keep quiet.
After the analysis of two years of this pontificate one can notice also a clearer continuity of teaching of pope Francis and his predecessors. What John Paul II and Benedict XVI said about relativism is present in the teaching of pope Francis, who develops teaching and says that relativism in social relations is deeply inhuman because it excludes the weak. I would like to emphasize that as bishop Jorge Bergoglio was completely absent in media, avoided even media friendly to the Church. His great activity in media as a pope surprises some people.
– Erroneous interpretation of statements and gestures of the Holy Father must have resulted from his lack of experience in contacts with media. Now it happens rarely. We learned to read Francis, but did Francis learn to behave towards media?
– It seems to me that we learned to read the Pope in a wider context, not to draw conclusions too quickly from his single statements. Although a few months ago media presented Francis as the person who does not like clergy, who is very demanding towards priests and bishops. During the last meeting with the Roman Curia before Christmas, the Pope presented a strict examination of conscience in which he enumerated 15 illnesses of Curia employees and possible institutions. He did not mean to criticize clergy, but take care of the Church. He emphasized that he demanded the same from himself as the Head of the Church. These Christmas meetings of Francis with Curia employees were compared to the meetings which had been organized by John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Those ones were rather thanking and preparation for Christmas, not the examination of conscience.
Setting strong requirements – either in his texts or during his speeches – Francis always does it in the atmosphere of friendliness. He really proclaims the Gospel which calls for conversion, and this is the source of joy. His requirements do not overwhelm but give mobilization.
– Next year the Pope is visiting Poland on the occasion of the World Youth Days. What does Priest expect after this visit?
– I expect that many young people will understand that following Jesus is a decision giving much joy and happiness. Surely, this visit in Poland will show the continuity of the current pontificate and the pontificate of John Paul II, who was approved of by Francis. We will celebrate the Year of Mercifulness therefore, we can expect that we will hear the teaching of St. Faustyna expressed by Francis. I am glad that we will see the Pope praying at Jasna Góra. Events on the occasion of the World Youth Days will give dynamism to our faith. We are the Church of strong organization but also we may be a bit rigid and aging. However, in dioceses we can already see rejuvenation, paying attention to the young, and engaging them in volunteer work. It will be another calling for changes since the World Youth Days in Częstochowa in 1991.
– In an interview with journalists Francis emphasized that his pontificate would not be long, whereas Benedict XVI ‘opened a gate’ for abdication. The Church with three popes would be an precedential situation!
– Jorge Bergoglio was elected at his elderly age, so he is aware that he has got little time. So, maybe for this reason he makes so much effort to awaken our faith, remind us that as the God’s people we are still going in a pilgrimage to Heaven. If he makes a decision about abdication, it will not be hasty. He is a man of deep faith – if he recognizes that this is God’s will, he will follow Benedict XVI. However, for the time being, this pontificate is getting quicker month by month, the Pope has many plans for the future.