Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A reflection on the surprise of pope Francis

The beginning of October saw the publication in Italian of the book that Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio dedicated to the “Surprise of pope Francis”. It is a volume that sets off from the shock caused by the resignation of Benedict the XVI and lands in the surprising scenario that opened with the election of Bergoglio as successor of Peter. Here was an older pope capable of expressing an unusual spiritual youthfulness, a pope that had come “almost from the end of the world” and was willing to place at the center of the Church’s considerations issues such as poverty, hope, encounter, dialogue, bearing witness.
In many of the Italian contexts in which Saint’Egidio is present, the book was presented with a good public turnout. This provided an opportunity to further elaborate the reflection that the Community began at the outset of the pontificate and that is reflected under the rubric “Words of pope Francis” on the www.santegidio.org website.
We need to know pope Francis better, to listen to his words. This is why Andrea Riccardi‘s book is important. It takes stock of the first few months of the pontificate, but it focuses in particular on the roots of a complex and courageous spiritual journey, that progressed in a large South American metropolis like Buenos Aires in contact with many existential peripheries.
The volume introduces us to the surprise of this papacy which appears destined to go much further than the wave of immediate liking that touched so many people, both Christians and non-Christians, a wave we all witnessed.
We may be taking a decisive turn in the millenarian history of the Church. We may be entering a time in which Catholicism will experience a fruitful encounter with the world of today and tomorrow, with its challenges and promises.
Maybe, as Bauman suggested, “Bergoglio [will be] able to speak to the spirituality that is typical of our time, [to those] who want to find a meaning to their fragmented individual existence, who are still waiting for an Evangel, in its original meaning of good news”.            

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