Pope Francis asks Catholics to pray in August for Church reform ‘in the light of the Gospel’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Pope Francis waves during his Angelus address at the Vatican, Aug. 2, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Aug 3, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is inviting Catholics around the world to pray this month that the Church receives the grace “to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.”

He made the appeal in his prayer intention for August, released on Tuesday.

“Let us pray for the Church, that she may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel,” reads the prayer intention, issued Aug. 3 by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

The network also released an accompanying video, in which Pope Francis explained the rationale for the prayer intention.

Speaking in Spanish, the pope said: “The specific vocation of the Church is evangelization, which isn’t proselytism, no. Its vocation is evangelization; even more, the Church’s identity is evangelization.”

“We can only renew the Church by discerning God’s will in our daily life and embarking on a transformation guided by the Holy Spirit.”

“Our own reform as persons is that transformation. Allowing the Holy Spirit, the gift of God in our hearts, to remind us what Jesus taught and help us put it into practice.”

He continued: “Let us begin reforming the Church with a reform of ourselves, without prefabricated ideas, without ideological prejudices, without rigidity, but rather by moving forward based on spiritual experience — an experience of prayer, an experience of charity, an experience of service.”

“I dream of an even more missionary option: one that goes out to meet others without proselytism and that transforms all its structures for the evangelization of today’s world.”

At the end of 2020, Pope Francis established the global network that promotes his monthly prayer intentions as a Vatican body.

The pope decreed that the network, founded in France in 1844 and focused on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, would now be a papal institution based at the Vatican. It is now known as the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network” Vatican Foundation.

Commenting on the pope’s August prayer intention, Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said: “At the end of last year, a few days before Christmas, Francis had already wanted to delve into the difference between conflict and crisis so as to make clear that the latter can always leave us with something positive.”

“It’s a propitious time for the Gospel and for Church reform. As the Holy Father says, ‘we must have the courage to be completely open. We need to stop seeing the reform of the Church as putting a patch on an old garment.’”

“In the face of a crisis, the first thing we can do is accept it, as a propitious time to seek and recognize God’s will. This means not tiring of prayer, as the Pope insists so much; not tiring of following Jesus’ example of service, of charity, of encounter with others, with those who suffer, with the most vulnerable, and with those who most need it.”

Concluding his video address, the pope spoke of the challenges facing the Church. While he did not name any specific events, the Vatican is currently struggling with economic difficulties intensified by the pandemic and is conducting a trial of 10 people related to a financial scandal.

Declining the resignation of Cardinal Reinhard Marx in June, Francis wrote that “the whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse issue” and the only fruitful path was “to assume the crisis, personally and communally.”

Speaking in the new video, he said: “Let us remember that the Church always has difficulties, always is in crisis, because she’s alive. Living things go through crises. Only the dead don’t have crises.”

“Let us pray for the Church, that she may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.”

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  1. Heeding Tradition and recent popes (and now Pope Francis), and rising above the “prefabricated ideas…ideological prejudices…[and] rigidity…” of BOTH conservatism AND progressivism, in the crisis of the 1980s the American bishops critiqued the earlier, nationwide, and conflicted RENEW experiment.

    An evangelization experiment which, back then and in part, falsely elevated “experience as the locus of revelation” (item 3). The bishops offered a four-point analysis:

    1. “The tendency toward a GENERIC Christianity [about which] […] basic Christian themes are presented without sufficiently relating them to their specific FORM as experienced in Roman Catholic tradition and practice […]”
    2. “The need for greater balance and COMPLETENESS [about which] [… the need for] a clearer presentation on the distinctive nature of the Catholic Church, not merely as a community of faith but as a structured, hierarchical, visible, sacramental community […]”
    3. “The cognitive dimensions of faith need more emphasis [about which] […] ‘experience as the locus of revelation’ can lead to fundamentalism and the PRIVATIZATION of religious truth;”
    4. “The Eucharist needs broader definition and an emphasis on sacrifice and worship [about which] […] The preoccupation with the Eucharist as [only] a meal, which should be open to everyone […] Jesus seems to be present in the sharing rather than His REAL PRESENCE in the Eucharist […] a trivialization of the Eucharist [and now Eucharistic coherence] in the minds of some […] a confusion between agape and the real Eucharist.”

    (“Review of the national RENEW Process (originating in Newark), by the NCCB [now USCCB] Committee on Doctrine,” April 1987, CAPS added).

    • One Theodore Cardinal McCarrick imprimatured the Renew program. At the time of its release, it drew criticism for deficient theology, many dissident authors, etc.

      “Women of Grace” website has details–i.e., Renew’s imprimatur commission irregularly or in some lax manner failed to follow established guidelines.

      • Routinely, the ploy of the dissidents is not to affirm error, but simply to omit the truth which, then, is commingled with misleading bibliographies. Note that RENEW was clever in this regard–deceptively and fatally incomplete, but not overtly revolutionary.

        An imprimatur simply affirms that the text is free from explicit error. Not that it is the truth. The mentality of silent omission is really tough to discipline. Active homosexuals (and their apologists, e.g., poster child James Martin and various higher clerics), as possibly the root example, judge themselves as remaining consistent with the vow of chastity because—-in their reoriented bubble-world—-the virtue of chastity applies only to relations between men and women (thus, the evasive “I have never violated the vow of chastity”).

        Let’s think about this….how about a fully metastasized bubble-world where none of morality is actually denied, but in all concrete cases is only suspended, and aided and abetted by an exclusive focus on structures of sin while avoiding all reference to Veritatis Splendor (which exposed the fatal omissions in the Fundamental Option, or Proportionalism and Consequentialism).

        In the face of such a Fabian re-orientation, silence is not golden.

  2. A charming picture of Pope Francis. That aside, how charmed are we when called to evangelization without proselytism, when proselytism is defined as to evangelize or convert? What then? Evangelization without prefabricated ideas, without ideological prejudices, without rigidity. A Church that minimizes Apostolic tradition; tradition too often judged ideological and rigid. Reformists seeking propriety who shrewdly Vaticanize Sacred Heart devotion. Reform that underscores the sexual abuse crisis [lest we forget global warming and ecology] while restructuring the Curia, the CDF once the nemesis of abuse now secondary to Propaganda Fides, appointment of homosexual advocates to chair Dicasteries, as consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, seemingly oblivious to the astronomical abortion rate, the spreading transgender madness, critical race theory the new ethics rapidly replacing natural law ethics and Catholic morality. These are the real crises of faith that afflict the common Catholic in the pews and neutralize a confused clergy, leaving a few good men, prelates, presbyters, deacons, laity, scholarly and ordinary, journalists and editors, to carry on the fight to save faith and Church.

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