Pope Francis’ book’ Let Us Dream’ is one which brings me new life, principally because he places the Holy Spirit in a central role in our Church. This is something which I rarely find in the UK Church nor in other Churches in the materially rich countries.
However, this centrality abounds in the Churches of the poor countries. My perception is that we are still largely a Church of Christendom rather than one which reflects the Church of the first Christians as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles.
Francis constantly links this centrality of the Holy Spirit to peoples’ current concerns and to the major problems of the world. He skillfully focusses upon Catholic Social Teaching as a well-based way of responding to these. In his Pentecost 2019 homily he said: “Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.”
Most of what follows is in Francis’ own words. He speaks of the Church’s commitment to the poor as an essential part of Catholic Social Teaching. Other aspects which he includes are the common good, the universal sharing of goods, and solidarity with all who are exploited and maginalised – not terms which I often hear in Sunday homilies.
He writes extensively about the three synods which he initiated. ‘Synod’ has been a new word for me and I am appreciating its freshness as a process in the Church. The term means ‘walking together’ and it is the Holy Spirit who brings harmony in that process.
The media have a key role in opening synods to the people of God and the wider world. Sometimes they undermine the capacity for discernment. In the synod on Amazonia some media reduced the whole synodal process to the issue of whether the Church would ordain married men. In reality, that synod gave us a mission and vision to stand with the native peoples, the land and creation against the powerful interests of death and destruction driven solely by profit.
Phil Kingston is a founder member of Christian Climate Action.
23-25 July 2021 National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Conference at: https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/conference/