Cardinal-elect Michael Czerny

Eight quotes to know and share from new cardinal Michael Czerny

We at Novena have been sharing some of our favourite quotes from the new cardinals Pope Francis announced last September 1 and will create in a consistory this afternoon in the Vatican.

Today, it’s the turn of the Jesuit Michael Czerny, the only new cardinal named while still a priest and not yet a bishop.

Czerny, who was ordained just yesterday to the episcopate by Pope Francis himself, is the Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

That’s his “job title”, but the man is so much more than just that.

Beginning from his forced migration from Communist Czechoslovakia to Canada at the age of just 2, his is a fascinating life story, which you can read a bit about here.

Catch up on Novena’s series on the new cardinals:

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal-elect Jean-Claude Höllerich

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal-elect Miguel Ángel Ayuso

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal-elect Matteo Zuppi

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal-elect José Tolentino

Eight quotes to know and share from Cardinal-elect Cristóbal López

Here are some of our favourite quotes from Czerny:

1. The Church’s mission is the promotion of integral human development

Our vocation is to help men and women to live their human lives and to live them to the full…. This is the big mission. This is what it means to preach the Gospel and to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth…

The real story is the embodiment or the implementation of the Gospel in human society and human history. That is what we are really about. And if becoming a cardinal puts more weight behind that or more of a focus on that or gives me a chance to communicate that better or more effectively, then that’s what it’s for.

2. “The Church isn’t here to run the world”

[The Church] is not here to run the world or to solve the world’s problems, but the world should feel that the church, that Christ, that God is with us, with them, as we face the great difficulties of our lives and of our times.

3. Pope Francis communicates that the Church is with the world

Pope Francis has intensified or accelerated this broad sense of the mission of the church, so people who wouldn’t identify as Catholic, or even as Christian, somehow feel caught up in this desire, this hope for life, for the fullness of life, and for the addressing of the great injustices and the overcoming of despair, the hopelessness, the enslavement, the bewilderment, the disorientation that many people feel as life evolves in an ever-accelerating way.

People can feel that the church is with us, that Christ is with us, that God has not abandoned us or given up on us. That’s what Francis is communicating in every moment, in so many different ways.

4. Youth, unity and social media, the main challenges for the Church today

First, the distance, the non-communication or the gap between the church—the organized church, the institutional church—and the young generation. That is number one…

I think an… ongoing challenge is to be both worldwide and really united, really Catholic, and for every part of the church to feel authentically part and not less than the others. I think that unity is important, the solidarity of the body is very important…

I don’t think we have really begun… to understand the change in the whole human environment that electronic and social media represent. It’s bewildering us both in our interpretation of the world and in our ability to preach the Gospel.

5. “The planet isn’t a store room of infinite resources”

In the Church, we have understood our human dignity very well, but until recently we did not realize how much our human dignity is tied in with integrity, with the vitality of what [Pope Francis] calls our common home.

So [integral ecology] refers to being fully a person and contributing fully, but that we also have to care for our common home.

It is not a store room of infinite resources. The integrity of our humanity — and therefore the integrity of our ecology, our response — needs to include what we used to call the natural world and, very, very, very important, it needs to include future generations.

We can’t just count on the planet carrying us around forever without us worrying what kind of water will our children and grandchildren drink, what kind of air they will breathe, and what kind of natural resources will be still available for them.

And how warm is it going to be.

6. What can we do for the migrants in our midst?

Open our minds and hearts and eyes, and especially realize that they are not migrants “in general,” they are individual people, so the response is specific.

I think one of the problems we have is that we generalize, we talk about migration, instead of recognizing individuals, each of whom deserves a good welcome.

7. “The Amazon is a vital part of our common home” (with David Martínez de Aguirre, Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Maldonado, Peru)

During the October Synod, the entire world should walk with the people of the Amazon – not to expand or divert the agenda, but to help the Synod to make a difference.

The Amazon region is huge and its challenges are immense. If destroyed, the impacts will be felt worldwide.

For the people of that territory, the Amazon is their home in the fullest sense of the term; so “it is necessary to work to make the Amazon a home for all and deserving the care of all” (IL 129).

For Earth and humanity as a whole, the Amazon is a vital part of our common home. If the Amazon is further despoiled, the air may become too foul and hot to sustain life.

The young and the not-yet-born have the greatest stake in this crisis. How will the youth of the Amazon join with youth all over the world in ensuring that, as they mature, everyone will be able to breathe, to live fully and to pass life-supporting conditions to their children?

And how can the Church help to find the necessary new paths? “The Amazon world asks the Church to be its ally” (IL 144).

8. Responding to those who accuse him and the Pope of being “communist” for their concern for society’s most vulnerable

They haven’t understood the Gospel.

(Quotes 1-4 from America; 5-6 from OSV; 7 from La Civiltà Cattolica; 8 from Aleteia)

Next on Novena:

Politicians fiddling while Europe faces this one big problem, says Vatican official

Vatican official insists Church’s fight for migrants “evangelical”, not political

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