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Fr Chavez: ''Pope Francis, a far-seeing, prophetic charismatic figure''

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Kolkata, Aug. 1. (ANS - Rome) - Yesterday evening, 31 July, the Rector Major, just back from Brazil, shared with the community of the Generalate some points that had struck him particularly while observing Pope Francis during WYD at Rio de Janeiro, and his approach to the renewal of the Church. This reflection can be found in a letter that has already been sent to all Salesian Provinces. [ Download from here.]
Fr Pascual Chavez began his reflection by saying, ''It is not possible to really understand the figure of Pope Francis unless we see the close link that exists between his gestures, attitudes and words. The gestures are what we see: a Pope who is always smiling, with a smile that is both spontaneous and generous, embraces marked by great tenderness... actions that incarnate the Church's maternity.''

''His attitudes give the key to understanding him,'' Fr Chavez went on, ''because they show him to be a humble servant of the Faith. It is interesting to notice that he does not refer to himself. A good example of this is the way he replied to the President of Brazil: 'I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring something more precious that has been given to me - Jesus Christ.'''

Fr Chavez mentioned some other typical characteristics, such as spontaneity and practical attention to the poor and the least in society. He also examined the Pope's thought. In particular he emphasized the solidarity the Pope expressed for the young people in Brazil who are demonstrating for a more just society, and his criticism of the western model which condemns the elderly to ''cultural euthanasia'' and excludes young people by depriving them of any possibility of bringing about ''the renewal of society''. With regard to the young people, Pope Francis was able to restore enthusiasm and hope. ''He invited them to stake their lives on the two causes that are of real value, the Gospel and Jesus.''

The Rector Major highlighted also the Pope's reference to 'social humility' in his meeting with the political and cultural leaders, showing the importance of this way of acting, especially in a society like that of Brazil which is at present divided between the two extremes of selfish indifference and violent protest.

The talk that struck Fr Chavez most was the Pope's address to the bishops of Brazil when the Pope reminded them that ''mystery enters by the heart and cannot be reduced to rational explanations...'' and that, on the topic of people leaving the faith, ''we cannot just hit out at relativism, indifference, agnosticism, when there is a responsibility within the Church.''

Other qualities of Pope Francis that were seen at Rio and that deserve to be studied further are his openness to all who are active in the social sector in order to work together for common values; his distancing himself from a pyramid model of Church government towards a multi-faceted model based on unity that respects diversity. ''I say this because either we study the figure of the Holy Father seriously or else everything is reduced to mere anecdote. In fact there is no doubt that he has an agenda and he is working towards it,'' concluded Fr Chavez.

Finally, the Rector Major invited all Salesians to read and reflect on the documents and speeches of the Pope, also by way of preparation for the forthcoming General Chapter.

The full text is available in Italian and English on the website



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