“National or ethnic particularisms that exclude others” are a “danger” in the world today, the Pope has warned.
Driving the news
Francis was speaking in the Vatican Saturday with the Oriental Catholic Bishops in Europe, gathered in Rome for an annual meeting organised by the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE).
In his address, the Pope explained that “Christian unity is not uniformity. Uniformity is the destruction of unity; Christian truth is not monotonous, but ‘symphonic’; otherwise it would not come from the Holy Spirit”.
Francis recalled in his remarks his May-June trip to Romania, where he beatified seven Greek Catholic bishops martyred between 1950 and 1970 under the country’s Communist regime.
“My faith is my life”, the Pope recalled one of these martyrs declaring.
A lesson, for Francis, on the meaning of “Catholic communion”.
“Catholic communion is part of your particular identity, yet it in no way detracts from that identity”, the Pope told the gathered bishops.
“On the contrary, it contributes to its full realization, for example, by protecting it from the temptation of closing in on itself and falling into national or ethnic particularisms that exclude others”, he explained.
“And this is a danger of the present time in our civilization: particularisms that become populisms and seek to dictate and make everything uniform”.
Why it matters
“Today, while all too many inequalities and divisions threaten peace, we feel called to be artisans of dialogue, promoters of reconciliation and patient builders of a civilization of encounter that can preserve our times from the incivility of conflict”, Francis continued.
“While so many people allow themselves to be caught up in a spiral of violence, in a vicious circle of demands and constant mutual recriminations, the Lord wants us to be meek sowers of the Gospel of love”.
“I feel that the way shown to us from on high is made up of prayer, humility and love, not of regional or even traditionalist claims”, the Pope told his audience, insisting on the need for bishops to attend even to their non-Catholic “brothers and sisters”.
“The way is prayer, humility and love”, Francis insisted.
The Pope concluded his talk by explaining that what wins heaven for the Christian is not nationalism but practical attention to the most needy.
“The Lord will not seek an account of which or how many territories remained under our jurisdiction. He will not ask how we contributed to the development of our national identities. Instead, he will ask how much we loved our neighbour, every neighbour, and how well we were able to proclaim the Gospel of salvation”, Francis explained.
“Only in loving do we find joy and spread hope”, the Pope stressed, before urging the bishops to “give pride of place to the only things that remain forever: God and our neighbour”.