Francis’ road map for Church will last a century or more

Pope Francis’ road map for the future of the Church will far outlive his pontificate, a German theologian has predicted.

Speaking in Austria during the second week of the recent synod on the family, Cardinal Walter Kasper said Francis is a “gift of God”.

The Pope’s theology and his vision for the Church are centred on the Gospel mandate, the good tidings of a merciful God, and the concept of the People of God, which Vatican II had underlined, Cardinal Kasper said.

Francis outlined much of this in his apostolic letter, Evangelii Gaudium, which was, so to speak, the blueprint of his pontificate.

He wanted “the People of God, every single one them, to participate in the Church”, Cardinal Kasper said.

He also wants the Church to be a “listening church which has an open ear to the People of God”, the cardinal added.

In the Pope’s eyes, the Gospel message is also the basis for the “correct understanding of the magisterium”, Cardinal Kasper noted.

Therefore, Church teaching and the Gospel mandate must not be played against one another.

The reform programme that Pope Francis has prescribed for the Church is long-term, Cardinal Kasper said, “a programme for a century or more”.

This is because it concerns all the dimensions of being a church, “right up to every individual Christian’s basic attitude”.

Francis’ road map for the future of the Church will, therefore, far exceed his pontificate, Cardinal Kasper said.

But the Pope’s success will depend on whether it will be possible to maintain his spirit of optimism and a new start in future pontificates.

The cardinal also explained how a special Argentine variation of liberation theology based on “the theology of the people”, with a particular sensitivity for regional piety and characterised by the concept of reconciliation, had a formative influence on Francis.

But this has nothing to do with the type of class-war liberation theology that drew the ire of Vatican authorities, the cardinal noted.


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