Havana Prelate Shares Notes From Cardinal Bergoglio's Pre-Conclave Speech

Argentine Archbishop Warned Against a ‘Worldly Church’

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The archbishop of Havana says that a speech given by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) during the cardinals’ pre-conclave meetings was «masterful» and «clear.»

Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino spoke of Cardinal Bergoglio’s speech at a Mass on Saturday in Cuba, having returned home from his trip to Rome to bid farewell to Benedict, participate in the conclave, and welcome Francis.

Cardinal Ortega said that Cardinal Bergoglio gave him the handwritten notes of the speech, and the permission to share the contents.

«Allow me to let you know, almost as an absolute first fruit, the thought of the Holy Father Francis on the mission of the Church,» Cardinal Ortega said.

During Saturday’s Mass, Havana’s archbishop spoke of the address as «masterful, enlightening, calling for a commitment, and true,» the spokesman of the archbishopric of Havana, Orlando Marquez, told ZENIT.

Then he read the full text that the future Pope gave him, in which he summarizes in four points the thoughts he wished to share with his brother cardinals and which express his personal vision of the Church in the present time. 

The first of these points is on evangelization, and he says that «the Church must come out of herself and go to the peripheries» not only in a geographic sense, but also the existential, manifested in the mystery of sin, pain, injustice and ignorance, among others. 

The second point is a criticism of the «self-referent» Church, which looks to herself in a sort of «theological narcissism,» which separates her from the world and «keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not allow Him to go out.»

As a consequence of this, there are two images of the Church according to point three of Cardinal Bergoglio’s address: one is the «evangelizing Church that comes out of herself» and another is «the worldly Church that lives in herself, of herself, for herself.» And this twofold consideration must «give light to the possible changes and reforms that must be made» in the Church. 

In his last point, Cardinal Bergoglio spoke to the cardinals about what he expected from the one who would be elected to lead the Church: «a man who, from contemplation of Jesus Christ … will help the Church to come out of herself toward the existential peripheries.»

The archbishop of Havana explained in his homily that, because he agreed with that outline of the Church, he had asked Cardinal Bergoglio if he had a written text of the address, as he wished to keep it. Cardinal Bergoglio answered that he did not. 

However, Cardinal Ortega continued, the following morning, «with supreme thoughtfulness,» Cardinal Bergoglio gave him a handwritten text of his address exactly as he remembered it.

At that time, Cardinal Ortega requested and received Cardinal Bergoglio’s authorization to share those thoughts on the Church.

After Francis’ election, Cardinal Ortega again asked permission to share the text, and Francis again agreed. Cardinal Ortega reported that he is keeping the original as a special treasure of the Church and a privileged memento of the present Supreme Pontiff of the Church.        

Palabra Nueva, the magazine of the Archbishopric of Havana directed by Orlando Marquez, published the notes that Cardinal Bergoglio gave to Cardinal Ortega.

The Sweet and Comforting Joy of Evangelizing 

Reference was made to evangelization. It is the raison d’etre of the Church — «the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing» (Paul VI). It is Jesus Christ himself who impels us from within.

1. – To evangelize implies apostolic zeal. To evangelize implies a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries not only in the geographic sense but also the existential peripheries: those of the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance, of doing without religion, of thought and of all misery.

2. – When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referent and then she gets sick. (cf. The hunchback woman of the Gospel). The evils that over the course of time happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in a self-reference and a sort of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Evidently the text refers to his knocking from outside in order to enter but I think of the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referent Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him come out.     

3. – When the Church is self-referent without realizing it, she believes she has her own light. She ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very great evil which is spiritual worldliness (according to De Lubac, it is the worst evil that can come upon the Church). The self-referent Church lives to give glory only to one another. In simple terms, there are two images of the Church: the evangelizing Church that comes out of herself; the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidente proclamans, and the worldly Church that lives within herself, of herself, for herself. This must give light to the possible changes and reforms which must be made for the salvation of souls. 

4. – Thinking of the next Pope, he must be a man that from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to come out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother who lives from the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.   

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