Opinion: “A Church that is more simple, more humble and more capable of silence.”

In these last lead-up days to the Conclave, some Cardinals have voiced their opinion on the state of the Church and the qualities required in a leader of the Church for the coming years.

The point of view of one voting Cardinal which wasn’t expressed in these days, but was reported at the Synod of Bishops on Evangelization in October last year, came from  the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle. Among the hundreds of comments made at that Synod, many of them forgettable, his have remained unforgettable. He said, briefly, that the Church of the time to come must be “more simple, more humble, with a more developed capacity for silence.”

I’m struck by his choice of these three qualities. I think I know what he means when he speaks of the Church needing to have a more developed capacity for silence.

This capacity for contemplative silence is a particularly positive feature of Christianity in Asian cultures and countries. It’s a capacity to be still, to watch contemplatively, to reflect, to welcome the thoughts of others, to pause before acting. It comes from a soul at peace, and it shows itself in quiet joy. I’ve found this particularly in the Cathedral in Singapore on a Sunday Mass. I’ve frequently noticed that visitors to the Church have been moved to tears at these celebrations of Word and Eucharist.

I’ve got no bets on anyone in particular who may emerge as our next Pope, and to be honest, I’m not particularly worried about who it might be.

But I am passionately interested in what the Church might become under the Pope’s leadership.

I would love to see our Church becoming simpler, humbler, and more capable of silence.

Fr Craig Larkin is a New Zealand priest who lives in Rome

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News category: Pope.

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