Gospel Newness Does not Permit a Double Life: Pope Francis at Mass

Pope Francis preaches on the difference between the “novelties” of the world and the “newness” of Christ during the morning Mass on Monday at the Casa Santa Marta.

During the homily Mass on Monday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis pointed out that the Apostle was very angry with those who boasted of being “open Christians,” but in whom “the confession of Jesus Christ went hand in hand with a tolerated immorality”: “Brothers and sisters, it is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans.” Those were the harsh words of rebuke, taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians, that St Paul addressed to the Christians there, noting that many of them were leading a double life. Paul recalled that “the yeast leavens all the dough,” and that it takes new leaven for new dough.

The Gospel completely transforms us

Jesus had recommended to His disciples “new wine, new wineskins.” Pope Francis said:

The newness of the Gospel, the newness of Christ is not only transforming our soul; it is transforming our whole being: soul, spirit and body, all of it, everything: that is, transforming the vine – the leaven – into new wineskins, also everything. The newness of the Gospel is absolute, is total; it takes all of us, because it transforms from the inside out: the spirit, the body, and everyday life.

The newness of the Gospel and the novelties of the world

Pope Francis noted that the Christians of Corinth had not understood the all-encompassing newness of the Gospel, which is not an ideology or a means of social living that coexists with the pagan inhabitants. The newness of the Gospel is the Resurrection of Christ, and the Spirit that He has sent “so that He might accompany us in life.” We Christians are men and women of newness, the Pope affirmed, not of novelties:  

And so many people seek to live their Christianity “on novelties”: [They say,] “But today, it can be done this way; no today we can live like this.” And these people who live out the novelties that are proposed by the world are worldly; they don’t accept all the newness [of the Gospel]. There is a distinction between the “newness” of Jesus Christ, and the “novelties” that the world proposes to us as a way of living.

Weakness, not hypocrisy

The people that Paul condemns, the Pope said, “are lukewarm people, immoral people… people who dissemble, formal people, hypocritical people.” And he repeated, “The call of Jesus is a call to newness”:

Someone could say, “But Father, we are weak, we are sinners…” “Ah, this is another thing.” If you accept that you are a sinner and weak, He forgives you, because part of the newness of the Gospel is confessing that Jesus Christ has come for the forgiveness of sins. But if you who say that you are a Christian live with these worldly novelties – no, this is hypocrisy. That is the difference. And Jesus has told us in the Gospel: “Be careful when they tell you: ‘Christ is here, He’s there, He’s there… The novelties are these: “No, salvation is with this, with this…” Christ is the only one. And Christ is clear in His message.

The path of Christ is the path of martyrdom

But Jesus does not deceive those who want to follow him. Pope Francis asks the question, “But what is the path of those who live out ‘the newness,’ and do not want to live out ‘novelties’?” He recalls how the day’s Gospel ends, that is, with the decision of the scribes and the doctors of the law to kill Jesus, “to do away with Him.”

“The path of those who take up the newness of Jesus Christ is the same as that of Jesus: the path towards martyrdom,” the Pope warned. Martyrdom is not always bloody, but a daily martyrdom. “We are on a path, and we are watched by the great accuser who raises up the accusers of today to catch us in contradiction.” But, he concludes, there is no need to negotiate with “novelties”; there is no need to “water down the proclamation of the Gospel.”

Pope to consecrated widows: Live a life of simplicity, humilty

Pope Francis meets with participants attending an international conference for consecrated widows, inviting them to use their experiences to help the young and the poor, and to live a life of humility and simplicity.

In his prepared words to the women gathered, Pope Francis, underlined how "widowhood is a particularly difficult experience”, adding that some pour their energies into their children and grandchildren.

The Pope said that with their consecration, the widows showed that it was possible, with the support of members of the Church, to live a life of service by exercising their family, professional and social responsibilities.

The Lord's gift

Your consecration in widowhood, noted Pope Francis, “is a gift that the Lord gives to his Church to remind all the baptized that the power of his merciful love is a path of life and holiness, which allows us to overcome trials and be reborn in hope and in the joy of the Gospel.”

I invite you, therefore, he said, “to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and to cultivate the particular bond that unites you to Him. Because it is there, in the heart to heart with the Lord, listening to his word, that we draw the courage and perseverance to give…the best of ourselves through our consecration and our commitments.”

Simplicity and Humilty

Pope Francis then urged the widows to use their experiences help the young and the poor, showing them the tenderness of God and his closeness in love.
In this way, he went on to say, “I encourage you to live your consecration in daily life with simplicity and humility.”

Among those present on Thursday were the Fraternity of Our Lady of the Resurrection and the Community of Anne the Prophetess who are present in a number of countries and have been prematurely widowed. Their aim is to affirm the sustainability of married love anchored in Christ and intercede for couples.

Card. O’Malley: Church leaders must listen to the voices of victims of abuse

Wrapping up its Plenary Assembly, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has reiterated the primary importance of listening to survivors of clerical abuse as underscored by Pope Francis.

The safeguard and the protection of minors from clerical sexual abuse has become an urgent priority for the Catholic Church that is increasingly under pressure to give a credible and robust response to victims, their families, their communities and to all Catholic faithful.

One body that was established to do so is the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that was established as an advisory body to the Pope.

Headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, its mandate is to propose the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults in order that the Church may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated.

It does so by uniting its efforts to those of other institutions and to bishops’ conferences across the world and producing tools like guidelines, good-practices and formation courses for Church leadership.

A press release was published on Sunday at the conclusion of the Commission’s 9th Plenary Assembly that took place in the Vatican.

Cardinal O’Malley spoke to Vatican News’ Sergio Centofanti about the most urgent and significant issues Commission members focused on during the Assembly.

Asked whether, given the present situation, is the Church really listening to survivors and learning from them, Cardinal O’Malley said “recent events in the Church have us all focused on the urgent need for a clear response on the part of the Church for the sexual abuse of minors”.