|01-07-2007 - Traces, n. 7
“The path to follow against ideology is to repeat joyfully, confidently, persistently, serenely, and firmly, but delicately, the fact of the Incarnation at the origin of Christianity, giving witness to its beauty and its power to change lives”
Seeking to explain his perception of Pope Benedict XVI’s “style of Papacy,” reporter and columnist John Allen tells of the time that he asked him (at that time Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine) whether he was not personally bothered that so many in the professional theological establishment did not agree with him. Cardinal Ratzinger replied that during the 16th and 17th centuries in France, Jansenism was a dominant position of the theological establishment, and the objections of the Magisterium did not change their minds. “Well,” commented the Cardinal, “three hundred years later, Jansenism is no longer a powerful influence.”
Indeed, ideologies do not last. They cannot destroy the solidity of the Fact, so to speak, upon which the Church’s doctrine is based. The path to follow against ideology is to repeat joyfully, confidently, persistently, serenely, and firmly, but delicately, the fact of the Incarnation at the origin of Christianity, giving witness to its beauty and its power to change lives.
This is what the Holy Father is doing. He is unveiling the Christological foundation of the doctrine of the Church, demonstrating that the reality of Christ, the fact of the Incarnation, is the only valid measure of what is real, reasonable, true, beautiful, and good. A world without Christ is a cruel, inhuman world. According to Allen, in the face of the controversies that surrounded the Pope in Latin America recently, the Holy Father responded to each the same way: exposing the Christological basis of the Church’s teachings, and insisting that everything that diminishes the consequences of the Incarnation contributes to the miseries and tragedies that plague this world.
In a recent trip to Assisi, the Holy Father spoke of the attraction of St. Francis to so many men and women of all religious convictions (and of none at all). St. Francis is the “patron” of many causes, such as world peace, the environment, religious tolerance, and assistance to the poor. St. Francis is all of this, said the Pope, because of his love for Christ. This is his “point of departure” for thought and action. “It is Christ who is the very principle of the cosmos. Christ is the divine truth, the eternal ‘Logos,’ in whom each ‘dialogue’ in time finds its ultimate foundation. Francis incarnates deeply this ‘Christological truth’ that is at the root of human existence, of the cosmos, and of history.” Without the Incarnation, all those noble causes will decay and fail. Fidelity to St. Francis will always keep us in touch with the fact of Christ and overcome any temptation to religious indifference, which has nothing to do with authentic dialogue. Fidelity to Christ is our protection from intolerance and the use of violence. “There cannot be a true evangelical commitment, nor a true Franciscan spirit, if it does not bring together our embrace, respect for others, and dialogue with the certainty that each Christian, starting with the Saint of Assisi, has always motivated in us: announcing Christ as the way, truth, and life of Man, the only Savior of the world.” Thus, Benedict XVI continues insisting that there is no conflict between faith in Christ and our commitment to a more human world.