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Thursday, June 25, 2015

To future Papal representatives: be custodians of truth, not state functionaries

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) - “The mission you will one day be called to carry out will take you all over the world. In Europe, which needs to be reawakened; in Africa, which thirsts for reconciliation; in Latin America, which hungers for nourishment and inwardness; in North America, intent on rediscovering the roots of an identity that does not define itself in terms of exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity for transformation in diaspora and by dialogue with the immensity of ancestral cultures”. With these words, Pope Francis received in audience the students who are about to complete their studies in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Holy See institution charged with the formation of the diplomats who will work in the nunciatures and the Secretary of State.

In his address, the Holy Father highlighted various aspects of the path ahead of them, starting with their mission. “You are preparing to represent the Holy See in the Community of Nations and in the local Churches you are destined for. The Holy See is the see of the bishop of Rome, of the Church that presides in charity, that is based not on vain pride but rather on the daily courage of the condescension or abasement of her Master. The true authority of the Church of Rome is Christ's charity. This is the sole force that renders her universal and credible for man and for the world: this is the heart of her truth, that does not erect walls of division and exclusion, but instead forms bridges to build up communion and to recall the unity of humanity; this is her secret strength, that feeds her tenacious hope, invincible despite momentary defeats. It is not possible to represent someone without reflecting their features, without evoking their face. Jesus said, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father'. You are not called to be the high functionaries of a State ... welcome in worldly salons, but rather the guardians of a truth that supports those who offer it, and not the opposite. It is important that you do not let yourselves be depleted by continual transfers; instead, it is necessary to cultivate deep roots, to protect the memory of why you embarked on this path, and not to be hollowed out by cynicism nor to lose sight of the face of He Who is at the origin of your journey”.

Likewise, he reiterated that the Academy specifically aims to prepare future diplomats to consider the realities they will encounter and to love them, even with their limitations. “You prepare, indeed, to become 'bridges', pacifying and facing with prayer and in spiritual battle the tendency to regard oneself as above others, the assumed superiority of view that impedes access to the substance of reality, the claim of already knowing enough. To do this it is necessary not to transpose into the field in which you work your own patterns of understanding, your own cultural parameters, your own ecclesial background”.

“The service to which you have been called requires you to protect the freedom of the Holy See, which so as not to betray her mission before God and for the true good of mankind cannot be imprisoned by the logic of cartels, taken hostage by the accounting division of factions, accept the division among consuls, submit to political powers and to be colonised by the current dominant streams of thought or the illusory hegemony of the mainstream. You are called to seek, in the Churches and in the populations among whom you live, and whom you serve, the good that must be encouraged. To best fulfil this mission it is necessary to set aside the attitude of the judge and to don the robes of the pedagogue, of one who is able to release the potential for good that God does not fail to sow in the Churches”.

“I exhort you not to expect to find the terrain ready, but rather to have the courage to plough it with your hands, without tractors or other more effective means which we will never have at our disposal – to prepare it for sowing, awaiting the harvest with God's patience; a harvest of which you may not be the beneficiary. Do not fish in aquaria or farms, but instead have the courage to leave behind the safe margins of what is already known and to cast your nets and rods in less obvious seas”.

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