Pope’s humble language ‘connects’—priest

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MANDALUYONG City, Nov. 19, 2014—A priest believes the humble way Pope Francis talks offers a lesson on how preachers can faithfully propagate the Creed with its ethical requirements, and at once be able to connect to the world.

Humble words: Pope Francis spoke with young people in a Google Hangout session from the Vatican's Synod Hall on the final day of the Scholas Occurentes conference, September 3, 2014. (Photo: CNA)

Fr. Carlos V. Reyes, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue (ECID), told CBCPNews that in Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel), the Argentinian pontiff shares the view of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) which paints a Church that is less condemnatory and more humble in dealing with the world.

“We can both be faithful to our mandate to propagate the Creed and its ethical requirements and be in dialogue with the world at the same time. This can be seen in Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium,” he shared.

According to Reyes, Vatican II uses language that indicates a change in approach.

“Previous Councils used legislative juridical language expressed in Canons … And to emphasize their point, uses the ‘anathema sit’ (“let him be cut off”),” he noted.

“Vatican II uses the panegyric, epideictic language. It seeks to dialogue and to convince. It doesn’t use words of condemnation. It uses humility words,” the priest added.

Reyes admitted that while the attitude of some priests which can be described as “condemnatory” may have worked at one point in Church history, the prevailing circumstances have made such an approach obsolete.

In Evangelii Gaudium § 159 where Pope Francis advises preachers on how to deliver a “good homily”, he stresses that it should be “positive and “not so much concerned with pointing out what should not be done, but with suggesting what we can do better”.

He says, “The Church is a mother [who] preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child, knowing that the child trusts that what she is teaching is for his or her benefit” (§ 139).

The pope adds that even if the homily at times may be somewhat tedious, if this maternal and ecclesial spirit is present, it will always bear fruit, just as the tedious counsels of a mother bear fruit in due time, in the hearts of her children (EG § 140). (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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