LETTER | Assessment on Pope Francis’ one year papacy after His Easter message
October 24, 2014
A year after his election, the world including Christians and non-Christians are still studying the different changes he has started within the Vatican bureaucracy and the Vatican financial institutions. His pronouncements on the need of a Church that is missionary, compassionate and inclusive have been analysed by theologians from different countries and how these will affect the current problems of a increasingly deserted Church. His statements on social issues such as the war in Syria, the plight of migrants in Europe and the capitalist system that is driven by greed have also been well published.
The current changes being instituted by Pope Francis can be a crucial turning point in the 2000-year history of the Roman Catholic Church. However, as we very well know, this turning point cannot be achieved by mere Papal pronouncements and administrative reforms no matter how well meaning. There will definitely be obstacles coming from different sections of the church structure and society that will be threatened by these changes. All possible doctrinal and theological precepts will be thrown at Pope Francis to derail if not totally stop the reforms. A US oligarch has already warned that donations to the Church can stop and some Vatican watchers have already hinted at the physical dangers the Pope is risking.
As such, how should we approach these changes? Cognizant that these are reforms that will not radically alter the reactionary character of the Roman Catholic Church, it is still incumbent upon us to study and act upon these, analyzing, making a balanced evaluation and propagating those that will benefit the poor, deprived and oppressed.
What needs to be done?
The administrative reforms such as the revamp of the financial institutions, the appointment of the eight Cardinals who will propose restructuring to the Vatican Curia, the Papal announcement that more authority will be given to the national episcopal conferences, we can support since any changes in the fossilized bureaucracy can contribute to a Church that is more compassionate in deed.
We should also support the call for justice for and indemnification to the victims of clerical sexual abuse. Beyond these there should be discussions within the formation centers and other scholastic institutions how these crimes can be prevented.
More than all of these we must strongly advocate and propagate the pronouncements and moves that relate to issues of social justice. These are the changes that are most necessary, urgent and will be contentious and divisive within the Church. These include the pronouncements on migrants issues, the conference on the Syrian conflict and the condemnation of capitalist greed.
We must likewise be more active in calling the Pope’s attention to the situation in our country: the continuing misery and escalating poverty brought about by economic policies that favor the elite; the plunder of our natural resources, the continuing and increasing subservience to imperialist control.
But it is not only the Pope whom we wish to address. We have to reach out to the Philippine Church hierarchy in different dioceses, congregations, parishes and institute dialogues and get their cooperation on the need for radical social transformation. Basic changes namely comprehensive and genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization and the continuing armed revolution that seeks to
address these has to be explained to them. And beyond any theoretical discussions, we must draw them into actively participating the people’s struggles not only because they are influential opinion makers but also that as members of Philippine society they have a stake in its well being and progress.
We should also reach out to the numerous Christians, whether nominal or practicing, and involve them in the different national and sectoral issues that will organize and empower them.
As guided by the tenet that to love God, we must love our neighbor, we continually strengthen our determination and commitment by reaching out and organizing as many as we can to achieve a society where there is peace and justice.
Christians for National Liberation (CNL)
CNL is an allied organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and composed of revolutionary church people from the Catholic and Protestant churches.