Continuing the reflection on Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez’ address to the UD Ministry Conference, the Cardinal spoke of the Second Vatican Council as being central to and the driving force behind the renewal of the Church.
Describing the Council as a “grace-filled event,” the Cardinal called it “the central moment of contemporary history.” He said the Council recognized that things had changed, and addressed those changes and how the Church must respond.
Recalling the words of Blessed Pope John XXIII that “The Church of Jesus Christ is the Church of all, but for the undeveloped countries, it is the Church of the poor,” Cardinal Rodriguez reminded us that the Council declared “Christ was sent by the Father to evangelize the poor. Similarly, the church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and recognizes in those who are poor and suffering the image of her Founder.”
Vatican II, the Cardinal explained, “brought an end to the hostilities of the Church with modernity condemned by the First Vatican Council” and acknowledged that the “world is not a place of evil and sin, nor is the Church the only place of goodness and virtue.” The texts of the Council state the Church should “lay down a bridge towards the world,” and “initiate a dialogue with it.”
“The Council,” Cardinal Rodriguez recalled, “opened up with great affection to the world, to science, progress, human values, to the collaboration between science and faith, to respect the autonomy of creation and the rights of reasoning, science and liberty.”
Pope Francis seems committed to the Council principle that the Gospel of Jesus is most effectively proclaimed through engagement with the world, rather than condemnation. History has shown that when the Church loses its missionary spirit and engages in internal competitions that effect is to obscure the Gospel rather than proclaim it.
The Holy Father has called for the Church to be on the periphery. In addressing the Latin American Bishops Conference he said: “I like saying that the position of missionary disciples is not in the center but at the periphery: they live poised towards the peripheries… including the peripheries of eternity, in the encounter with Jesus Christ. In the preaching of the Gospel, to speak of ‘existential peripheries’ decentralizes things; as a rule, we are afraid to leave the center. The missionary disciple is someone ‘off center’: the center is Jesus Christ, who calls us and sends us forth. The disciple is sent to the existential peripheries.”
The concept of the Christian as “missionary disciple” is true to the Catholic tradition that Christianity is more than a personal relationship with God, but a relationship with God that is lived out in a relationship of loving service to others. “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen.” I John 4:19-20
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish