The pope announces return of mission of Vatican II

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Pope Francis rides into town

Greenberg Center

Pope Francis rides into town

Pope Francis rides into town

Pope Francis rides into town

Pope Francis made headlines yesterday by calling the Armenian genocide a genocide, but for his church, his more important pronouncement came on Saturday. Even as he declared that the Turkish slaughter of Armenians which began 100 years ago inaugurated a grim century of genocides, he announced a return to the mission of the Second Vatican Council, which wrapped up its business 50 years ago.

With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. It was a new phase of the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning.

Francis declared that the coming Jubilee Year will begin on December 8, to mark the anniversary of the council’s closing. And, quoting Pope John XXIII, the council’s progenitor whom he’s elevated to sainthood (“Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity”), he made mercy its theme. His lengthy announcement is titled “The Face of Mercy” (Vultus Misericordiae). Calling it “the very foundation of the Church’s life,” he ordained that every Catholic cathedral keep a “Door of Mercy” open throughout the year.

It will hardly be lost on insiders that Francis is effectively institutionalizing his support for Cardinal Walter Kasper, who, in his recent book Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Lifeargues that mercy has in recent years been “criminally neglected” by the church. Kasper, of course, is the leading supporter of altering church rules to permit divorced and remarried Catholics to take Communion — an issue that the Synod of Bishops will resolve when it meets in October.

During the past two pontificates, Rome has pushed against the view that Vatican II signaled a major shift in the life of the church. John Paul II along with his successor Benedict XVI were, in important respects, about the business of a “reform of the reform,” returning to older ways of thinking, praying, and running things. In his Jubilee announcement, Francis goes so far as to turn John Paul II’s New Evangelization into an exercise in mercy: “In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action.”

In setting the theme for the Jubilee, Francis doubled down on the most famous and provocative pronouncement of his papacy, “Who am I to judge?” Quoting Jesus’ “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37), he declared, “The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn. If anyone wishes to avoid God’s judgement, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister.” In what could well be the crucial months of his reform mission, Francis has thrown down the gauntlet.

  • Vincent G

    Good to see Pope Francis keeping the focus on where the focus should be.

    Pope Francis loves God and has a heart for mankind.

    Kudos to the pope!

  • opheliart

    “Pope Francis made headlines yesterday by calling the Armenian genocide a genocide, but for his church, his more important pronouncement came on Saturday.”

    “… for his church”

    Yes, HIS church, Mark … Thank you for stating this … as there are huge numbers (including catholics) who understand that the Roman Catholic Institution does not speak for God, is not Prophet, and officiates in ways many believers find excessive. We as believers in the Spirit Holy do not believe the Romanist’s beliefs (Transubstantiation Theory, canonization, Magisterium, Papal Office and … ) Not that they haven’t had beautiful outpouring throughout their religious expression through divine parts, but doctrine is doctrine, and we believe no man can claim absolute truth within these partial petitions, as Spirit flows within IMPARTIAL life for the purpose of UNITY. Spirit cannot be controlled and manipulated by title, position, institution, sales pitch or ritualistic endeavor. To us, these can be symbolic expressions but are often viewed as children playing tea party with their dolls.

    “The Bride of Christ”, btw, has yet to be revealed in the Spirit Senses 🙂

    *Pope Fran’s voice is strongest in stating fact in a way that ignites charism.

    I could say more on the politics shared here, but will refrain.


  • samuel Johnston

    As far as I can tell, Francis the liberal reformer is a win/win for both secular society and the Church. If the hard liners split off, that will be even better.
    As for the “Who am I to judge?” campaign, it undermines the whole notion of exclusive “salvation” through the Church, but hay- it’s another win/win- but I seriously doubt that it can/will prevail.

  • opheliart


    “As for the “Who am I to judge?” campaign, it undermines the whole notion of exclusive “salvation” through the Church, but hay- it’s another win/win- but I seriously doubt that it can/will prevail.”

    Excellent point.

  • opheliart

    A person doesn’t have to be a believer in Spirit to understand how Theology works … or doesn’t work—where and how it breathes, or suffocates. It’s been many years now since the ‘church father’ Theologians and their kin put forth what you see, but people have “upgraded” in some areas of thought, and can see its (theology) errant provision.

  • James Carr

    The Pope speaks a God would and it will be interesting to see how he will direct the Lord’s Church with his vision of mercy.
    Past Popes should not be regarded as unmerciful, though. A crude and selfish Society has always attacked the Church throughout history, so different climates have called for an emphasis on different aspects of Christianity.
    Any hope the Pope will undo Dogma is misplaced hope. Emphasising mercy as an approach to the world does not mean the revocation of any foundational belief.

  • donn g

    I heard RNS is a gay publication. Is that right? It does seem awfully gay at times.

  • James Carr

    Rainbow News Service.

  • tz

    Of course Pope Francis said not to judge gay priests IF they are SEEKING the Lord and HAVE good will. The answer was in response to a question about the “gay lobby” which the Pope said was BAD. Got that Prof ideological lobbies are BAD. You should spend time thinking about that instead of constantly trying to drum a narrative attacking conservative christians. Since I actually care about facts, ideas and reality, the Pope’s actual words are provided below

    “I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad.”

    Only then did the Pope offer his most-quoted sentence: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”

  • Chaplain Martin

    Your words pretty well sums up my feelings on the matter.

  • opheliart

    And John Paul 2’s advisement on Marcial Marciel spoke as God would?peculiar how no one in the RCC, esp within their hierarchy, can explain the child sex abuse. Can’t see it—for generations. Shhh …
    The room goes silent … smoke slips in through their closed doors of denial … let’s just see WHERE we can create a stir, they say … we don’t want people to know what’s been happening here. They can’t figure it out! But they don’t want anyone to know that they can’t figure it out, can’t address it … not as it should be addressed.

    Schism is in the forecast … despite the broken record:

    Only the indoctrinated see their Religious specifications as correct … according to their holy water gone dry. But interesting that one like James should be so fixated on the sexual acts of homosexuals. Does anyone find this ironic? How about iconic?

    self-righteous bred … gotta love it

  • opheliart

    Feelings … ah, yes … very denominational.

  • James Carr

    The Church recognized the sins of its clergy, and the embarrassment of its coverup. What more do you want? The Church should dissolve itself because of sins within it?

    The Church has never sanctioned the sins of its priests, nor did the parents or victims ever turn down or expose the hush money provided.

    Humans in the Church will continue to sin, as did Magical Marcel. The Faith is still intact and it will be up to all parties to act according to their Faith in the future.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi James,
    “The Church should dissolve itself because of sins within it?”
    What an easy, non- answer.
    The Church IS an evil (destructive dishonest) institution based on fraud and lies.
    1) It claims the impossible (The head supernatural being put the Church in charge of his world, and gave them the power to save or condemn.) What a bald face lie.
    2) All other paths are condemned to everlasting hellfire (another evil fraud).
    3) There is no value or merit in any human enterprise except by the approval (grace) of their supernatural being. (The most destructive lie of all!)
    4) Sins can be washed clean. (Meaning we can avoid the consequences of our actions, the law of cause and effect). Fraud again.

  • Chaplain Martin

    …”very denominational.” Cute, but I’m not Catholic, whatever.