“What strikes me most in the Church is her fruitful, ordinary holiness,” Pope Francis quotes Joseph Malegue implicitly and Jean-François Millet explicitly. Perceived also, in his book-interview with French researcher Dominique Wolton, is a Doctor of the Church . . . Therese of Lisieux,
“Politics and Society” (Editions de L’Observatoire) will be in bookstores in France on September 6 and Le Figaro Magazine (pp. 37-42) published excerpts of the book on September 1, 2017, with a presentation by Jean-Marie Guenois.
In a tone that also recalls Charles Peguy’s “What astonishes me, says God,” the Pope adds : “There is so much holiness. It’s a word I want to use in today’s Church, but in the sense of daily holiness, in families . . . And that’s a personal experience. When I speak of ordinary holiness, which at other times I’ve called the “middle class” of holiness . . . do you know what that evokes? Millet’s Angelus. It’s that which comes to mind, the simplicity of those two peasants praying.”
“A people that prays, a people that sins, and then repents of its sins,” adds the Pontiff of the Jubilee of Mercy.
And the Pope of “zero tolerance” for the gravest sins of clerics perceives sharply a base of holiness hidden and real: “There is a hidden form of holiness in the Church. There are heroes who leave on mission. You, the French, have done much, some have sacrificed their life. It’s what strikes me most in the Church: her fruitful, ordinary holiness. That capacity to become a saint without being noticed.”
The Holy Father talks about the ecclesiology of Vatican Council II, anchored in Baptism, the “common” priesthood of all the baptized, which the ministerial priesthood is supposed to serve. One remembers that the 1983 Code of Canon Law wrought a reversal of the order of the chapters compared to 1917, by placing the People of God first, the Pope himself repeats: “The Church is the people.”
And he explains: “There are the sins of leaders of the Church, who lack intelligence and allow themselves to be manipulated. But the Church is not the Bishops, the Popes and the priests. The Church is the people. And Vatican II said: “The people of God, as a whole, is not mistaken.” If you want to know the Church, go to a village where the life of the Church is lived. God to a hospital where there are many Christians who come to help, laypeople, Sisters . . .”
And he speaks with admiration of the “revolution” of missionaries, with that key word of the Jesuit Pope “to serve”: “Go to Africa where one finds so many missionaries. They burn their life down there. And they carry out true revolutions, not to convert, it was at another time that one spoke of conversion, but to serve.”