The following interview with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on the indicated subjects was conducted by EWTN Spanish in November 2012. English translation by EWTN.
Pope Benedict XVI called the Church to live the Year of Faith
Well, I don’t know how it occurred to him. He must have felt that he had to do it, certainly an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, because at one point, Paul VI had declared a Year of Faith during a very tumultuous time. Paul VI spoke the phrase: “The smoke of Satan has entered the Church”. It was a very difficult time and, during that Year of Faith, he wrote the beautiful “Creed of the People of God.”
I don’t think this time in history is more peaceful than that that time, ¿right? There is another path we can follow. Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus frequently spoke of attitudes that in their essence, are idolatrous such as: relativism, narcissism, consumerism- they are completely foreign to worship of the true God; therefore they are idolatrous attitudes. ¿right? And in today’s society new idols are continuously established and driven by consumerism, isn’t that true? There is where people get hooked.
Indeed there here is a strong need to renew the Faith, to pray the Creed with our hearts, to say: “I believe in Jesus.”
In a similar way the Pope teaches us what Saint Paul told Timothy: “Remember Jesus Christ.” So, in this year, “Remember Jesus Christ”. Renew the Faith, revitalize it. Only Jesus provides the answer to this rampant idolatry, and He reigns from the Cross. If we deny the Cross of Jesus, we deny Jesus.
One interesting fact about this paganism; it is a Gnostic paganism, isn’t it? Yes, I believe in God but He is just one god… a diluted god, almost a pantheism- but an interesting fact is that the amount spent on non-necessities worldwide. Let’s put aside spending on necessary things such as food and medicine.
On those things that are not necessities, or superfluous things, the greatest amount is spent on pets. The most unnecessary spending is made on pets. Pets are idolized, and there is the idolatry to buy, to rent, to have a feeling to give as I want, where I want, without needing the answer. Isn’t that true? It’s all a caricature of love; and the second largest amount of money is spent on cosmetology, cosmetics. I don’t exactly remember the amounts worldwide, but there are millions and millions spent on these two things.
Meanwhile,the Pope is talking about children who are dying of hunger in underdeveloped continents like Africa, Asia and America.
First come pets, then if there is something left we throw it to the children… The Pope is talking about the beauty of the spirit, the beauty of the heart, that has nothing to do with the artificial beauty of cosmetics. We wear a costume when we don’t have the beauty of God.
Faith, Hope and Charity
Let’s begin with this: the theological virtues are pure gifts, pure charisms, pure graces, which are given to you in Baptism and you soul is sealed with these three virtues. They come with the indwelling of the Trinity in our heart, but we cannot buy them or acquire them through their own efforts: they are pure gifts of God.
Obviously when we choose a path of self-sufficiency or more Pelagian way, the gift takes a second place, and then Faith is weakened, charity is weakened, and hope is weakened. So the most important thing is what I do. And here I remember a midrash from the 12th or 13th century Rabbi, around the time of Saint Thomas.
When speaking about the Tower of Babel, he explained how the men, in their eagerness for progress, began well, but ended badly, and where the error was. To build the Tower they had to make bricks; to make bricks they needed to find straw, make the mud, knead it, cook it, and so a brick had a great value because it was the result of great effort.
So when they were lifting the bricks and one fell down and broke, it was a tragedy because their loss was great given what they had invested. If a man were to fall, that wasn’t a problem since he was simply replaced by another slave.
We can say that when we have this self-sufficient or pelagian attitude, the virtues of Faith, of Hope and Charity are diminished and we end up neglecting the image of God that is every man, created in His Image and Likeness.
Regarding the primacy of Charity, it is clear that faith disappears once we contemplate God as Saint Paul states. And hope is setting that anchor. Once we reach the shore we remove the anchor and that’s it, it isn’t needed anymore. On the other hand, charity is the complete fulfillment of the seed planted in our Baptism, and that is why it endures.
Latin America, the great spiritual resource of the Church
Our countries clearly have a great resource, a cultural resource and a spiritual resource. A resource that we can see in a few images that are common to all the people of Latin America.
The images of Our Lady, the Mother, she who brings us to Jesus. That image of the Church who warms the home of the Church; and Christ Crucified, who is sometimes presented near the Cross as the Lord of Patience after having being whipped and crowned with thorns; or as the Lord laying down, dead. These are two images very dear to our countries, along with all the many devotions to the saints.
But this resource refers to a God who became flesh and suffered for us. That is what those images signify. He came to us as man because Mary who carried him, she who is Mother of us all; and He dies for us to give us life.
This reference is a resource that leads our countries forward and gives rise to the virtues of solidarity, assistance, understanding, and all of these things.
This has not been destroyed yet, but all that this modern culture proposes, including what is proposed in the centers of learning, and what is proposed as social behavior is eroding or tends to erode this. I think of this “popular piety” in the deepest sense of the word as referenced by Paul VI in “Evangelii Nuntiandi” or in the Aparecida document.
This popular piety still has deep roots of faith and is very strong, and I bet on the faith of our people; that Our Lord will give us the grace through these practices of piety and obedience to Christ who died for us, and that veneration of the Mother can save us from this current, from this relativism where everything is equal.
A question for all of the Catholics of the world
I would ask you: How do you pray?
Yes Father, I pray, I ask God, I give thanks to God, I ask Jesus for help.
That’s all? Only asking and giving thanks?
I ask you about two types of prayer: Do you praise God? Do you praise God because He is so great, as we do in the Mass, in the Sanctus of the Mass? But do you do that in your heart when you are in His Presence?
I ask another question: Do you adore God? Are you stunned before this great God and adore Him because he is the only God?
To strength your faith, besides being a beggar (because we have to be very mendicant- the Catholic should be a beggar) your prayer should praise and worship God.
If you don’t worship God you will have something else… I don’t know which one… a pet, cosmetics… I don’t know.
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