Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally

3/14/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His language is understandable because its terminologies are not lexical jargon but reveal the sigh of the suffering and the breath of the struggling world.

Within a short span of papacy of just one year, this man from the periphery has proven to be a man of surprises for a troubled Church and a turbulent world. His convictions, his styles, his teachings and his actions have become both a surprise and a scandal in the direction of calling for a change of perception, much more than that a repentant attention to the matters of personal life, Church and World.

Highlights

By Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/14/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Pope Francis, anniversary, Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally, periphery


ALLAHABAD, India (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis is completing one year of papacy. I feel that it would not be superficial or hypocritical sycophancy if I try to draw a couple of parallel between Pope Francis and Jesus of Nazareth. 

It is not to add any divine appellations to Francis, of being an incarnation or something like which we find among the self-acclaimed god-men/women of today in some cultures. Rather, it is to understand his person and message. Jesus of Nazareth is a man of scandal and surprise as regards his personal essence, mission and action.

WISH POPE FRANCIS A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! 

He is a man of surprise. People thought and think how can God incarnate be born in a manger? How can he eat and speak like us? How can he act in favor of the poor and the sinners? How can he submit himself to a brutal sacrificial death? How can he be born in a rural background and grow up in a frugal carpenter's family? How can he forgive and save the humanity?

In comparison to the hitherto followed standards and customs surrounding the successor of Peter, and like the man of Nazareth, Pope Francis is a man from the peripheries and of the peripheries. By lineage and nobility, by tradition and culture, by continental identity and ambitious influences, he is an unknown figure who came from a suffering and poverty ridden third world, or a sub world, called Latin America. 

Within a short span of his papacy, of just one year, this man from the periphery has proven to be a man of surprises for a troubled Church and a turbulent world. His convictions, his styles, his teachings and his actions have become both a surprise and a scandal to many. He is calling us in the direction of a change of perception, much more than a repentant attention to the matters of personal life, Church and World, he is calling us to the peripheries.

Hence, in our attempt to understand Francis' person and message, as the leader and the servant of the Catholic Church, to consider his person/personality is of prime importance. Unlike many others who change their actions and convictions according to the power and office when conferred, Francis has brought his person/personality into the office and power to act upon and to change.

This is the key, I suppose, to decoding Francis as Pope. He has not denied or done away with his personality. Personality permeates his papacy. A personality which is formed deeply out of living faith and an encounter, an experience of Jesus Christ. A personality rooted in mercy and compassion. A personality formed out of experiences of troubled relations and personal failures. A personality carved out of poverty and rejecting the marginalization of any people.

His is a personality molded  out of saying no to compromises and comfort seeking life style, too often typical of institutionalism and ideology. His stirring, direct language and compassionate and inclusive gestures are reflections of his personality rooted in a profound Christian experience. He is a pastor at home with the "smell of the sheep" in their pastures.

The conclave to elect a Pope one year ago did not have the usual ambiance of a requiem Mass and grief for a departed pontiff. Rather the conclave had an atmosphere of anxiety and questions marks regarding the very fate of the institutional Church which received an unexpected jolt from the most courageous decision by Pope Benedict XVI to leave in peace and to leave for good.

A leadership vacuum and an apparent moral bankruptcy, aggravated by scandals both inside at the headquarters, as well as issues shaking the structures at different particular churches, called for the hardest optimism in order for any candidate to be at ease with the situation.

Beating all the media predictions and stories of sources and intrigues, we heard a name Bergoglio as a bespectacled man glancing at the crowd in the dark and said, "bless me and pray for me" instead of the customary words of a new Pontiff.

People sensed immediately something new in him and in his style, so too in his nationality and background and name. They mutually blessed and prayed for each other. Everybody retired to rest with a sense of joy and not without questions still remaining as to how he will direct the course of action.

Although a Jesuit, he did not choose a high sounding Ignatius for his name or for that matter any of the great name of his predecessors. He went instead for Francis of Assisi- the poor man of Christ. Francis was often identified as the poor Christ- so too is Pope Francis. Like Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is a man for whom Jesus Christ has become the ground of his existence.

Like Francis of Assisi, he has a living faith and an ever renewing love for the Church while showing an angelic openness to nature, birds and animals. Finally, like Francis, Pope Francis is a man of dialogue, even to welcoming the apparent hostile diversity of some persons and systems.

At a personal and magisterial level, Francis has embarked upon helping the Church rediscover the merciful love and compassionate face of Christ as one of the cores of his vision and mission. As God embraces the world with its sin and imperfection compassionately in Christ, Francis has challenged the Church to embrace one another with mercy and compassion.

WISH POPE FRANCIS A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! 

In other words, it is the rediscovery of the richness of Jesus Christ who became poor and servant for our sake. Hence it also puts a challenging question to the institutional and security syndrome seeking mindset within the Church. It calls us to break out and go forth in courage and humility, in mercy and hope, and to reach and preach the merciful love of God to those in the periphery.

Hence it means a lifestyle and a value system which gives priority over availability than appointment, to embrace rather than to judgement, to serve not dictate and rule. It is true many cannot easily digest this rediscovery of simplicity. But all can understand in the light of this rediscovery of the Church and her mission, somethings which were perhaps missing badly!

Within one year, it has created echoes within the echelons of the Church - both internally and externally- whether by way of the eight cardinals council arriving at reforms at Vatican or the religious procurators (economos) forced to discuss the use and accumulation of their wealth in the light of their charism.

Or even Bishops, priests, deacons and laity coming to know each other better through pastoral visits and initiatives. Or, as a concrete example, the third largest Bishops' conference of the world, that of India, sharing an open air dinner with the beggars and destitutes at Pala, Kerala - overcoming caste and economic considerations with true Christian humility and charity.

For the world, Francis' papacy has shown another kind of rethinking- a good example is the prayer for Syria to avert international military action and to arrive at peace rising above the cultural and religious prejudices and selfish interests. Equally he has drawn the attention of the world to pay respect to the human dignity of the marginalized poor, which seems to be an apparent side effect of an economic tyranny which looks at its own self-interest.

Dialogue, peace and justice, with space open to God and to the other, despite the religious or national divides, brings into focus the appeal of Francis to the world. In the matter of Ukraine crisis too, Pope Francis is asking the world community to feel the power of dialogue and justice, and to arrive at peace. In the daily international struggles, his visit to and encouragement given to the refugees and their pain, he is also asking governments to redefine their policies towards the reality of migration, human trafficking and poverty.

Finally, it is interesting that everyone, sinner or saint, poor or rich, atheist or believer has an access to this Pope. His language and gesture are more accommodating than discriminating. His language is understandable because its terminologies are not lexical jargon but reveal the sigh of the suffering and the breath of the struggling world. He stands for regeneration and hope and has struck a natural chord with the youth of the world as well as with those of every other section of society - and of other cultures and world religions.

-----

Fr Dr Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally is a priest of the diocese of Gorakhpur in North India is professor of dogmatics at St Joseph's Regional Seminary, Allahabad, India and author of Jesus Christ: Quest and Context of Abhishiktananda. He engages himself with the media through occasional freelance writing and interviews.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Asia Pacific

Conspiracy theorists try to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysian Air Flight MH370 - Did terrorists plant the discovered plane debris as a distraction? Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Since the recent discovery of plane wreckage on an Indian Ocean island, conspiracy theorists have formulated several attempts to provide an answer to the mysterious disappearing of Malaysian Air Flight MH370. Some even claim the discovered debris was planted there by ... continue reading


Dancing lights in Japanese sky spark concern over alien life Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ten bright lights spotted above the sky in Osaka City, Japan, were recorded and posted online. Within the two-minute clip, the lights appeared to be dancing, puzzling those who viewed the video as to whether alien life is visiting us or the recording is merely a hoax. ... continue reading


Piece of Flight MH370? Mysterious plane debris washes up on Indian Ocean island that could be missing Malaysian MH370 Watch

Image of A sand sculpture urging all to pray for MH370.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Photos of what could be a piece of the missing Malaysian Air Flight MH370 have surfaced over the internet. The photo, posted on Twitter, appear to "a plane flap or wing that had washed up on a remote Indian Ocean island," according to Fox News. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


HOUSE OF HORRORS: 97 bodies of children, adults found stacked inside ancient Chinese house Watch

Image of In trying to determine the sudden influx of dead bodies, researchers came to one conclusion. The dead came in faster than they could be buried in a village that contained dozens of small, one-room houses.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers are baffled in a recent grisly discovery in northeast China. A small, 210 square-foot home in a prehistoric village has yielded 97 skeletons of men, women, and children. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 5,000-year-old home housed the skeletal remains ... continue reading


Chinese Christians protest 'evil Communist campaign' to destroy crosses Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian leaders have set up demonstrations in eastern China to take a stand against the "evil" campaign to eliminate crosses; a plan many see as a coordinated Communist party attack on their religion. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - No less than 1,200 ... continue reading


Military combats return to Japan after seven decades of strict restrictions Watch

Image of

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time in 70 years, Japan's military will now have limited powers to participate in military activities concerning conflicts, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triumphed over public demonstrations and oppositions against the new legislation. The Prime Minister ... continue reading


Tibetan Monk Delek Rinpoche cremated in Chinese prison against family's wishes Watch

Image of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison and was then cremated against public wishes.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tibetan Monk, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body has been cremated against the will of his family in a secret Chinese prison. Prior to the cremation, protests erupted after news that the Monk was killed while in prison. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Famous Siberian 60-meter deep crater mystery solved Watch

Image of Yamal crater B-1 not caused by meteor as previously thought.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A "never observed" process that has puzzled Russian scientists is now understood. Through an expedition last week, researchers found out that the massively large holes, appearing in Siberia, are not actually caused by large meteorites but a former mound of land covered ... continue reading


Indonesia's rumbling volcano causes flight cancellations and panic for tourists Watch

Image of Mount Raung has been heating up over the last few weeks.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An active volcano in Java, Indonesia has been rumbling and spewing ashes over the last week, causing flight cancellations to tourist hub Bali and other destinations. Transportation authorities decided to suspend flights because the amount of volcanic ash could be ... continue reading


Inspiring story of a homeless nine-year-old Filipino boy who does his homework on the streets Watch

Image of Daniel Cabrera went viral over social media for his intense motivation to do well in school.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nine-year-old Daniel Cabrera has inspired people around the world with one heart-warming photo. In the viral photo, the child is shown doing his school work on the street, using an improvised bench as his study desk and a dim light from a McDonald's restaurant.  ... continue reading


All Asia Pacific News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Numbers 11:4-15
4 The rabble who had joined the people were feeling ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 81:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
12 So I left them to their stubborn selves, to follow ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 14:13-21
13 When Jesus received this news he withdrew by boat ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Lydia Purpuraria
August 3: Lydia Purpuraria (1st century) was born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar), ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter