Cardinal: Pope Francis doesn't want a 'self-pitying Church

WASHINGTON — As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops opens its annual fall meeting in Baltimore today, German Cardinal Walter Kasper, often called the pope’s theologian, had a not-too-subtle message for the American Church.

Kasper told a standing-room-only crowd at Catholic University last week that Pope Francis wants a “missionary Church” with an open door, not “a self-centered, self-pitying Church immersed in its own suffering.”

The cardinal, who was awarded the university’s medal for “excellence in scholarship and leadership in religious studies,” made his remarks as the Catholic world continues to sift through the fallout from last month’s contentious Synod on the Family.

Not everyone sees Francis as “the beginning of a new spring in the Church,” said Kasper. “Every pope will have his opponents and enemies.”

Critics see Francis and the say-what-you-really-think-synod as potentially dangerous — an erosion or softening of doctrine or a revolution in morality.

Conservatives, led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, have blasted the pope for encouraging a wide-ranging discussion on all kinds of families, gay and straight, at the synod. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said media coverage created an image of devilish confusion over doctrine on sexual ethics and marriage.

But Kasper would have none of that. He repeated a familiar refrain: “The pope is not a liberal. He is a radical.”

By radical, he means returning to the origins of a Church rooted in mercy, said the cardinal, author of a new book, “Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life.”

In his lecture, he described Francis as “a pope of surprises” and “a Jesuit through and through” with “a holy impatience with our divisions.”

He said the pope’s view is that “the churches are too wrapped up in their own concerns. … The Church cannot be self-centered, revolving around itself, but a Church on the move,” at the center of human existence, not the periphery.

At this same event Card Kasper also said that people should not to speak for the Pope, and should not “appropriate Pope Francis in their own way”.


That is what I thought when I read the article.

Actually, I like that he added that statement, even if it seems ironic that he said it while saying what Pope Francis supposedly wants.

Much of the confusion is from the media interpretation of what Pope Francis says and not the pope’s actual words.

As to the claim that the pope doesn’t want a self-pitying Church, well self-pitying hardly seems like godly behavior. It’s rather easy for some of us to get discouraged in this culture. Pope John Paul II often reminded us the words of Jesus,“Be not afraid!” Self-pity isn’t compatible with that.

Interesting. I never really thought of the church as self pitying.

I think he was referring to the members of the Church rather than the organization or the teachings

By radical, he means returning to the origins of a Church rooted in mercy, said the cardinal, author of a new book, “Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life.”

Returning to the origins of mercy??? I wonder where this comes from especially in light of the many theological articles that have recently upheld mercy+justice and mercy+truth.

I wonder what this description means: “a self-centered, self-pitying Church immersed in its own suffering.” :eek:

I think the description speaks quite accurately of a certain segment of the Church that fears Pope Francis is “changing” things…He’s changing nothing, its just that faction had their own understanding of the rationale behind Church teachings, and they find the truth of the Holy Father’s message upsettingly new rather than comfortingly familiar.

So, if it’s true, how can it be new? Were the other popes wrong?

That was my point…it isn’t new…there are just some misinformed Catholics who think its new.

It’s ridiculous that the very people who are always complaining about the 'old European men who run the Church ’ have picked up on this appalling fossil, this Hans Kung - lite who is a bit more equivocal and evasive, as if he were other than one of these dreary old superclericalists who constantly chide the laity for failing to be as merciful - read: indifferent ist and sync resist - as they are. The prelates and priests who want to make an anti-Benedict of Francis are nasty condescending where Francis is enlightening and encouraging. What a contact between ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ and Kasper ’ s self-aggrandizement. O

“The Church cannot be self-centered, revolving around itself, but a Church on the move,” at the center of human existence, not the periphery.”

I love that image of the Church. It reminds me of the prayer for the Church from the Eucharistic Prayer… as a matter of fact, the prayer for the Church has really stood out for me during Mass since Pope Francis came along.

Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world. Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth; your servant, Pope N., our bishop. N., and all the bishops, with the clergy and the entire people your Son has gained for you. Father hear the prayers of the family you have fathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.

A world ‘united in mercy and love’ no longer seems like empty rhetoric.

He is changing things. Not doctrine, but he has already made changes. For example, he moved Cardinal Burke to a mostly ceremonial position. Maybe the change the pope wants is primarily of tone so that some people will feel welcome, but it has left some feeling less welcome and like their sacrifices and contributions aren’t appreciated by this pope

That may stir feelings of “self pity” because the Christian life is hard and uncomfortable at times. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden light , but even a light and easy cross is still a cross. Some people get, well, cross.

I don’t think it is the Popes role or even Gods if you read today’s gospel… to be ‘appreciating’ of our sacrifices and contributions. They are our duties and obligations.

Luke 17:7-10 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Frankly if Cardinal Kasper told me the sky was blue, I’d go to the window and verify.

Very true, which is why I wrote earlier that self-pitying is hardly godly behavior. But it’s human to want to be appreciated.

We read other places in the gospel things like, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The world doesn’t usually thank those who follow Christ–but sometimes we find appreciation from our superiors in the Church. That seems to be changing for some. We shouldn’t go off and sulk just because the pope has decided to pay more attention and say nicer things about those who reject Church teachings than he says for some conservative leaning Catholics.

You are falling prey to the secular media, which is making a big deal out of the transfer. If you knew the workings of the Church, instead of listening to outsiders, you would understand that the Cardinal’s transfer is not a shake up. The position he held is not one to be held for life, as the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, which the secular media seems to be comparing it to.

Catholics need to be better informed on the internal workings of the Church bureaucracy, instead of jumping to conclusion on what they hear on TV, radio, and the internet.:shrug:

I know the secular media is making a big deal of the transfer, but it is a change nonetheless and it’s one example of change. Another is the “off the cuff” comments that Pope Francis makes which the secular media interprets through secular eyes.

Pope Francis has a far different style than Pope Benedict had. I doubt that Pope Benedict wanted a “self-pitying” church either. Self-pity is not attractive. It does not draw others closer to the Catholic Church or Christ. Everyone–including those who may be struggling with the new style of this pope and how the media portrays him–can benefit from the reminder that we are not called to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s not just the Pope that doesn’t want a “self-pitying church”–God doesn’t want that for us either.

This is nothing but empty buzzwording and hand-waving. There is absolutely nothing of real substance here at ALL. What, exactly, is a “church on the move?” Where is Sin, Christ, redemption and Grace in all this smoke and mirrors?

I can think of a good example. The multitudes of self-pitying American Christians who incessantly whine “Oh, woe is me! My “religious freedoms” are under attack!”, “I have to pay taxes, waaah!” “Someone who isn’t a Christian called me out on behavior that Jesus condemned, therefore I’m persecuted!” THAT bunch is turning people away from Jesus.

I have no doubt I’ll be banned for not being charitable in this post, but… Jesus wasn’t always charitable, you know. He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”. He called out people as hypocrites. Oh, does that sting? Good.
I’m just following our Lord’s example here in this post. Shame on some of you!

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