“…If the Church becomes like him and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change.”
With these words, Eugenio Scalfari concludes his account of his September 24 interview with Pope Francis. Like the recently published interview with Jesuit publications around the world, it gives an amazing look into the pope’s thoughts on the direction he wishes to lead the Church. It is also a brilliant example of what true dialogue looks like. Below is but one question from the interview along with the holy father’s answer.
You Christians are now a minority. Even in Italy, which is known as the pope’s backyard. Practicing Catholics, according to some polls, are between 8 and 15 percent. Those who say they are Catholic but in fact are not very are about 20%. In the world, there are a billion Catholics or more, and with other Christian churches there are over a billion and a half, but the population of the planet is 6 or 7 billion people. There are certainly many of you, especially in Africa and Latin America, but you are a minority.
“We always have been but the issue today is not that. Personally I think that being a minority is actually a strength. We have to be a leavening of life and love and the leavening is infinitely smaller than the mass of fruits, flowers and trees that are born out of it. I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”
I will continue to pray that Pope Francis is successful in his ministry of unity and in his challenge to the faithful to live the Gospel more fully. You can find the entire interview here.