Vatican City, May 30, 2020 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- Our suffering during the coronavirus crisis will have been in vain if we fail to build “a more just, more equitable, more Christian society,” Pope Francis said May 30.
In a video message released Saturday, on the eve of Pentecost, the pope urged Catholics to seize the opportunity for change presented by the pandemic.
He said: “When we come out of this pandemic, we will no longer be able to do what we have been doing, and how we have been doing it. No, everything will be different.”
“All the suffering will have been useless if we do not build together a more just, more equitable, more Christian society, not in name, but in reality, a reality that leads us to a Christian behavior.”
“If we do not work to end the pandemic of poverty in the world, with the pandemic of poverty in the country of each one of us, in the city where each of us lives, this time will have been in vain.”
The pope made the comments in a message to members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS). The body was established in December 2018 by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life to bring together the different branches of the Charismatic Renewal worldwide. Its statutes came into force on the Solemnity of Pentecost 2019.
The pope told CHARIS members, who were taking part in an online Pentecost vigil, that “Today more than ever we need the Father to send us the Holy Spirit.”
The world is suffering, he said, and it needs the witness of Catholics to the Gospel of Jesus, which can only be given through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We need the Spirit to give us new eyes, open our minds and hearts to face this moment and the future with the lesson we have learned: we are one humanity. We are not saved alone,” the pope explained, speaking in his native Spanish.
He said that the pandemic had underlined that, despite their differences, Christians are one, united by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We have before us the duty to build a new reality,” he said. “The Lord will do it; we can collaborate.”
He continued: “From the great trials of humanity, and among them the pandemic, one comes out either better or worse. It is not the same.”
“I ask you: How do you want to come out? Better or worse? And that's why today we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit so that He may change our hearts and help us to come out better.”
“If we do not live to be judged according to what Jesus tells us: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was in prison and you visited me, a stranger and you welcomed me’ (cf. Matthew 25:35-36), we will not come out better.”
The Pope urged members of CHARIS to be guided by a text called Charismatic Renewal and the Service of Man by the Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens and the Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara.
He also encouraged them to reflect on “the prophetic words” of St. John XXIII announcing the Second Vatican Council, in which he spoke of a “new Pentecost.”
Pope Francis concluded: “To all of you, I wish on this vigil the consolation of the Holy Spirit. And the strength of the Holy Spirit to come out of this moment of pain, sadness and trial that is the pandemic; to come out better. May the Lord bless you and may the Virgin Mother take care of you.”
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Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
We read: “The Pope urged members of CHARIS to be guided by a text called Charismatic Renewal and the Service of Man (1979) by the Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens and the Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara.”
This is an engaging and well-balanced read by two liberation theologians, bridging with much success (my surprised opinion) between so-called “spiritual” and “socially committed” Catholics. But, at one point in the final pages, the text is seriously dated. The authors appeal briefly to Gustavo Gutierrez. More recent than the text, in 1984, and largely in response to Gutierrez’ writings, the Church declared that Roman Catholicism and the Marxist version of liberation theology are incompatible (not to be facilely blended as “levels” within Gutierrez’s single “all-encompassing salvific process”).
How to evangelize in the world but not of the world, faithfully and non-ideologically, remains a challenge. The text rights itself by concluding with Gaudium et Spes: “[….] Earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ’s kingdom. Nevertheless, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the kingdom of God [….]” (n. 39).