Human pastoral quote machine Pope Francis was at it again today in Rome, prying open doors and trying to let more people in. Today's mildly rebuked pharisees are the self-appointed pastoral border guards who hold up a hand in consternation instead of offering one in welcome when the less-than-perfect among us seek to gate crash at the house of the lord. "There is always a temptation," Pope Francis warned, "to try and take possession of the Lord." The pope spoke of an unofficial "8th" sacrament created by parish gatekeepers to throw up obstacles to those they deem unworthy.
According to Vatican Radio, during Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, this morning, Pope Francis said, "Jesus is indignant when he sees" such efforts to block people from sacramental life because those who suffer are "his faithful people, the people that he loves so much."
"We think today of Jesus, who always wants us all to be closer to Him, we think of the Holy People of God, a simple people, who want to get closer to Jesus and we think of so many Christians of goodwill who are wrong and that instead of opening a door, they close the door of goodwill ... So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the church find the doors open...open to meet this love of Jesus. We ask this grace." He reminded his audience that in "Lumen Gentium" it is noted that "the holy people of God ... cannot err in matters of belief" (12). He added: "If you want to know who Mary is go to the theologian and he will tell you exactly who Mary is. But if you want to know how to love Mary go to the People of God, who teach it better. "
Pope Francis commented on the tension in today's Gospel as some disciples sought to intercept children brought to Jesus for his blessing. Instead of gratitude, the intervention receives a rebuke from Jesus.
Said the Pope:
Jesus embraces [the children], kisses them, touches them, all of them. It tires Jesus and his disciples "want it to stop.” Jesus is indignant ("Jesus got angry, sometimes.") And he says: "Let them come to me, do not hinder them. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
The faith of the People of God, said the pope, "is a simple faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it."
The people of God - continued the Pope - "are always asking for something closer to Jesus, they are sometimes a bit 'insistent in this. But it is the insistence of those who believe "
It is an insistence, he believes, which ought to be welcomed, not stiled at the parish door. He offered the example of the parish secretary, tasked with with intercepting a young couple who want to be married:
"'Good evening, good morning, the two of us—boyfriend and girlfriend—we want to get married'. And instead of saying, 'That's great!' They say, 'Oh, well, have a seat. If you want the Mass, it costs a lot ... '. This, instead of receiving a good welcome—It is a good thing to get married! ' But instead they get this response:' Do you have the certificate of baptism, all right ... '. And they find a closed door. When this Christian and that Christian has the ability to open a door, thanking God for this fact of a new marriage ... We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.
"Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized.' And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you're not married!'
But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs!"