Earlier today Pope Francis addressed the cardinals and I would just like to share with you the points from his talk that most stood out for me:
- Referring to the period culminating in the conclave, Pope Francis said: “In this very cordial atmosphere our reciprocal knowledge of one another and mutual openness to one another, grew. And this is good because we are brothers. [… W]e are that community, that friendship, that closeness, that will do good for every one of us.” To my mind he yet again places himself among, not above the cardinals, just as he did immediately after his election when he refused to sit on the raised papal throne and instead welcomed the cardinals’ pledge of obedience standing at their level.
- Emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit. he said: “He, the Paraclete, is the supreme protagonist of every initiative and manifestation of faith. It’s interesting and it makes me think. The Paraclete creates all the differences in the Church and seems like an apostle of Babel. On the other hand, the Paraclete unifies all these differences – not making them equal – but in harmony with one another.” Here I was particularly pleased to see Pope Francis’ underlining of the concept of unity in diversity (rather than identity) that Benedict XVI also pointed to repeatedly.
- “Stimulated by the Year of Faith, all together, pastors and faithful, we will make an effort to respond faithfully to the eternal mission: to bring Jesus Christ to humanity, and to lead humanity to an encounter with Jesus Christ: the Way, the Truth and the Life, truly present in the Church and, at the same time, in every person.” Jesus is in every person, within and outwith the Church, and it is for us to to facilitate for others to encounter him. This is an all-inclusive and non-imposing stance that I derive great joy from.
- Pope Francis then returned to the Holy Spirit, who “is the soul of the Church, with His life-giving and unifying strength. Of many He makes a single body – the mystical Body of Christ. Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil tempts us with every day.” Aside from his reference to the devil, which already in the few speeches since his election seems to me more prominent than it was in Benedict’s language - but even with it, this is again a very positive, hope-filled and forward-looking take on the challenges ahead.