Pave Frans: Vi må være nær det sekulære samfunnet

John Allen skriver om pave Frans’ møte de de polske biskopene for noen dager siden, og sier at pave Frans der fremhevet «vicinanza» (nærhet) heller enn konfrontasjon for å overvinne sekulariseringen:

On Tuesday the Vatican released the transcript of a July 27 question-and-answer session Pope Francis held with the bishops of Poland, in which he seemed to suggest that the right way to resist secularism isn’t to prevail in intellectual arguments, but to “out-love” the opponents of the faith. … There are several fascinating nuggets, including:

– Francis’ reflection on what he sees as a contemporary form of Gnosticism that seeks to separate the individual from the community, especially the Church.

– His fiery rejection of “ideological colonization,” especially the promotion among children of the theory that people are free to choose their own gender.

– His insistence that the roots of the contemporary refugee crisis are in wars driven by financial interests.

– The pontiff’s ringing defense of the parish as the basis of ecclesiastical life, that must not be “thrown out the window.”

– Francis’ call to treasure the elderly, the “grandpas and grandmas” of society, as the “memory of a people.”

At the big-picture level, however, perhaps what’s most fascinating is the alternative way of reading the “progressive” social and ecclesial agenda that’s been associated with Francis since the beginning of his papacy.

Clearly, Francis has shifted the focus away from the “wars of culture” in the West and open confrontation with secularism, towards a more pastoral and social action-oriented approach. In the eyes of some observers – including, it has to be said, some senior Churchmen – that’s risked confusion about Catholic doctrine and the traditional spiritual pillars of the faith, opening the door to ever-greater capitulation to secularism.

What becomes clear listening to Francis speak to the Polish bishops, however, is that seen through his eyes, the aim isn’t giving in to secularization – it’s staging the battle on a different field, away from abstract debates towards hands-on pastoral proximity – what Francis likes to call vicinanza, “closeness” – especially to people in greatest difficulty.

Though he doesn’t quite put it like this, the idea seems to be that the right way to resist secularism and to win souls isn’t to prevail in intellectual arguments, but to “out-love” the opponents of the faith and thereby draw people to the Church.

There are several places in the text where, if one hadn’t paid careful attention to the header, it would be tempting to think this was actually a transcript of Pope Benedict XVI. That’s especially true of Francis’ diagnosis of Gnosticism and Pelagianism as the most worrying contemporary heresies, and his insistence that neither God can be found without Christ nor Christ without the Church. …..

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