On June 22, Pope Francis concluded his two-day pastoral visit to the northern Italian city of Turin and asked the Waldenses, or Waldensians, for pardon for actions by Catholics in history …
“I ask for pardon for attitudes and behaviors that we have had against you in history that were not Christian, not even human. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!”–Pope Francis.
Discussions between Catholics and people of other creeds, on this forum and elsewhere, can turn into heated debate, and debates can be healthy and efficacious. But for us who are Catholic, are we listening to the words of Pope Francis and learning the difference between Christ’s call to evangelize and the Church’s past failures when she engaged in triumphalist proselytizing?
We might ask ourselves if when we are discussing religion with others if we ever demonstrate attitudes and behaviors that are not Christian or lack humanity. Despite differences, is there always respect, kindness, and consideration shown in our dealings?
We might want to learn the art of putting a system of checks and balances on ourselves. Humans, including Catholics, are subject to fall into the trap of only listening and believing what we want to believe and listen to. How do we ensure that when we are discussing religion with people of other faiths that we are not subject to confirmation bias? Are we often doing less than truly defending our stands with proven logic instead of pontificating a homily of self-justification? Do we demand a response from others when it is clear they have been proven wrong but are just as silent when the tables are turned?
It is important that we know our faith better than we know the technology behind our computers and smart devices. We should learn the methodology of logical argument and apply them to the art of apologetics. And we as Catholics have a responsibility to know our Scripture better than anyone else, especially since the Bible is a product of our religion. It didn’t come from the other churches or Christian religious movements.
Our speech and actions, even our invisible attitudes should never be anything but Christlike and a perfect example of what it means to be a Catholic. A balance of humility, Christian love, and logical arguments should be our trademark. People should want to talk to us, not hope to prove us wrong or hope to debate us to teach us a thing or two. Let us leave in our past any ways not in line with the New Evangelism, making reparation where we may have erred. We must now be prepared to preach the Gospel and the message of our Lord’s Kingdom in a welcoming manner, careful to not repeat the mistakes of the past.
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Pope_Francis_with_Waldensian_Pastor_Eugenio_Bernardini_at_the_Waldensian_evangelical_church_in_Turin_Italy_on_June_22_2015_Credit___LOsservatore_Romano_CNA_6_22_15.jpgTurin, Italy, Jun 22, 2015 / 12:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met on Monday with members of the Waldensian movement, an ecclesial community which suffered persecution from Catholic authorities from the 12th to 17th centuries. He apologized for the Church’s “non-Christian attitudes and behavior” towards the Waldensians during that period.
“Reflecting on the history of our relations, we can only grieve in the face of strife and violence committed in the name of faith, and ask the Lord to give us us the grace to recognize we are all sinners, and to know how to forgive one another,” the Pope said June 22 at a Waldensian temple in Turin. “I ask forgiveness for the non-Christian – even inhuman – attitudes and behaviors which, through history, we have had against you. In Jesus Christ's name, forgive us!” Monday's encounter marks the first meeting between a Pope and the Waldensian community. Founded in Lyon in the late twelfth century, it is currently centered in Italy's Piedmont region, which Pope Francis visited June 21-22. The movement was founded by Peter Waldo, and embraced evangelical poverty and lay preaching, and believed there were only two sacraments. The movement's ideas were condemned as early as the Third Lateran Council, in 1179. Beginning in the early 1200s, many Waldensians were executed on account of heresy. One of the largest killings took place in 1545, during which soldiers killed scores of Waldensians in the French city of Mérindol, although the extent of casualties is disputed by historians. Currently consisting of tens of thousands of members, the Waldensian community is headquartered in the Piedmont region, of which Turin is the capital. Pope Francis told the community, “On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask for your forgiveness.” During the meeting, the Roman Pontiff praised ecumenical advancements which have been made among those united in baptism and belief in Christ. “This tie is not based on simple human criteria, but on the radical sharing of founding experience of Christian life: the encounter with the love of God who reveals to us Jesus, and the transformative action of the Holy Spirit who helps us on life's journey.” Pope Francis noted that this communion “is still on a journey, which, with prayer, with continual personal and communal conversion, and with the help of the theologians, we hope, trusting in the action of the Holy Spirit, can become full and visible communion in truth and charity.” He added that unity, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is not the same as uniformity. “In fact, our brethren are united by a common origin but are not identical to one another.” The Holy Father cited the scriptures, which speak of different charisms and gifts. However, wars often break out when these do not accept these differences of others, he said. Pope Francis thanked God that the relationship between Catholics and Waldensians continue today to be ever more rooted in “mutual respect and fraternal charity.” The Pope said he is also encouraged by the various ecumenical steps that have been taken between the Church and the Waldensians, and reiterated the call to continue forward together. There are various areas where the Church and the Waldensians could work together, he said, one being evangelization. Another field of collaboration is working with those who suffer: the poor, the sick, and migrants, he added. “The differences on important anthropological and ethical questions, which continue to exist between Catholics and the Waldensians, do not prevent us from finding ways of collaborating in these and other fields. If we walk together, the Lord helps us live this communion which preexists every conflict.” Pope Francis concluded by saying a“new way of unity begins with seeing the “grandeur of our shared faith and life in Christ and the Holy Spirit,” before taking into account the differences which exist. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Waldensian community gifted Pope Francis with a copy of the first Bible translated into French, dating from the 16th century.
That seems to me a very honourable post. Can I suggest that humility and love might urge that what the Waldensians suffered was more than triumphalist proselytising. It was, in many, many cases, death.
My post does not mean to suggest that triumphalism and proselytizing was the worst suffered by the Waldensians. I was unaware that anyone would not be familiar with the murderous extermination aimed at this Bible-loving movement that almost wiped it out by the unjust shedding of blood.
The Catholic Church has had a history where it did not recognize how its attitudes could lead to such horrific persecution. Smugness and a failure to check facts in addition to think one knows better or has greater insight than others has blinded many to make these types of mistakes throughout history.
Pope Francis was not merely making an apology for attitudes but for the violence done in the name of God by people who were supposed to be following the Gospel but failed. I am not sure how your comment is meant to be taken in the light of what people should know about history, after reading the linked article and then my post as a follow up. If I wrote it in such a way as to make you think I was stating that the worst suffered was a triumphalist attitude, then that is may failure in the way I write (and shows where I need to improve).
Or, more likely, it shows where I need to improve my understanding. Thank you.