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Pope Francis on the demonstration of trust, being oneself and the role of women

Entrega de las llaves a San Pedro (Capilla Sixtina, 1481-82), "The Delivery of the Keys," by Pietro Perugino
Entrega de las llaves a San Pedro (Capilla Sixtina, 1481-82), "The Delivery of the Keys," by Pietro Perugino
Pietro Perugino (1426-1523) | Public Domain

A year ago, at the conclusion of an interview about the World Youth Day events, Pope Francis, described the Brazilians as a lively people, who had suffered greatly. “The liveliness of the Brazilians is contagious,” he noted, “it really is!

The Holy Father also noted that although the organizers had encountered some challenges in the plans relating to security, there hadn't been a single accident in all of Rio de Janeiro during those three days -- with visitors of 3 million people from 178 different countries, “and everything was spontaneous.”

“There is security in trusting a people,” the Pope explains, and while it may be true that there is a danger of some individual's intervening with some rash act, the cost of creating “an armed space between the bishop and the people is madness,” as well, the Holy Father believes, with the clear implications that the costs of security – for him – does not overcome the greater value of his interacting with the people, in Trust."

In responding to a question about his statement to the young folks who were visiting from his home country of Argentina, that he too – at times – felt “penned in,” he made reference to his wanting to go walking through the streets of Rome, as he had gone for walks in the city of Buenos Aires, and was known as a “street priest,” a callejero.

The Vatican had sent a letter and also called ahead to request that there be no special arrangements of any kind, since it was a preference to be treated as an ordinary traveler; and when he was asked about the contents of the black brief-case he had carried on to the plane -- an image captured by photographers and appearing in news outlets all over the world, because it was rather unusual -- the Pope was surprised by its being of interest, but he described the contents:

"There was a razor, a breviary, an appointment book, a book to read. I brought one about Saint Thérèse, to whom I have a devotion. I have always taken a bag with me when travelling – it’s normal. But we must be normal ... I don’t know ... what you say is a bit strange for me, that the photograph went all over the world. But we must get used to being normal.”

A good deal of attention had been given, also, to his having remained at Santa Marta, rather than to relocate to the Palace. Pope Francis hastened to point out that although it is a “fair size,” the Papal apartment is “not particularly luxurious!” He explains that it is his own personality –his own way – that he recognizes as reflecting his best nature when he interacts with others, rather than to live alone or with only a few other persons. He explained this, also:

“Everyone has to lead his own life, everyone has his own way of living and being. The Cardinals who work in the Curia do not live wealthy, opulent lives: they live in small apartments, they are austere, they really are, austere. ... Everyone has to live as the Lord asks him to live. But austerity – general austerity – I think it is necessary for all of us who work in the service of the Church. There are many shades of austerity .. everyone must seek his own path.

With regard to the saints, it’s true, there are saints: cardinals, priests, bishops, sisters, laypersons; people who pray, people who work hard, and who also help the poor, in hidden ways. I know of some who take trouble to give food to the poor, and then, in their free time, go to minister in this or that church. They are priests. There are saints in the Curia. And there are some who are not so saintly, and these are the ones you tend to hear about. You know that one tree falling makes more noise than a whole forest growing. And it pains me when these things happen. But there are some who create scandal, some. ... I like it when people say to me: “I don’t agree”, and I have found this. “But I don’t see that, I disagree: that’s what I think, you do as you wish.” This is a real collaborator."

Although he also notes that there are those who say that they agree but elsewhere, they say the opposite. He understands that it may take a little while in order to restore the doings of the Curia -- the administrative specialists in the Vatican -- and in the next few years those who have the courage to speak straightforwardly, under this Pontiff's guidance, should be more capably practicing his prevailing approach for truth-telling and transparency in all the Church's interactions, both external and internal, in nature.

In response to Jean-Marie Guénois from Le Figaro,who had asked about the Holy Father's idea that without women, the Church grows barren, and asked what measures the Pope intends to take, giving the example of whether a diaconate for women, among other practices, would be considered. Pope Francis was very happy to clarify:

“A Church without women is like the college of the Apostles without Mary. The role of women in the Church is not simply that of maternity, being mothers, but much greater: it is precisely to be the icon of the Virgin, of Our Lady; what helps make the Church grow! But think about it, Our Lady is more important than the Apostles! She is more important! The Church is feminine. She is Church, she is bride, she is mother. … the role of women in the Church must not be limited to being mothers, workers, a limited role… No! It is something else!”

Referring to Pope Paul VI -- and to other Popes (Pope John XXIII and Paul John Paul II immediately come to mind) -- who have written very specifically about the important role played by women, and by the Church herself, as part of God's plan. The Holy Father made a special point of describing to the reporters, that special place held by women, among the people of God in the Roman Catholic Church:

“I believe that we have not yet come up with a profound theology of womanhood, in the Church. All we say is: they can do this, they can do that, now they are altar servers, now they do the readings, they are in charge of Caritas (Catholic charities). But there is more! We need to develop a profound theology of womanhood. That is what I think. ...

I would like to explain a bit more what I said about women’s participation in the Church. It can’t just be about their acting as altar servers, heads of Caritas, catechists… No! They have to be more, profoundly more, even mystically more, along with everything I said about the theology of womanhood. ,,, I have said it, but I repeat it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the Apostles, than bishops and deacons and priests. Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests; how, this is something we have to try to explain better, because I believe that we lack a theological explanation of this. ...”

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