Pope visualises a more creative post-pandemic church

The Pope’s vision for a post-pandemic church will balance institutional rules and regulations with a more free-form church that responds to people’s pastoral needs creatively.

Explaining his point, he gave the example of an Italian bishop who asked him if it was allowable to offer general absolution to hospitalised Covid-19 patients in isolation.

A canon lawyer had already told the bishop it wasn’t allowed. The reason is that: absolution is generally given during confession, which requires face-to-face contact.

“I told him: ‘Bishop, fulfill your priestly duty,'” Francis says.

“I found out later that he was giving absolution all around the place.”

“This is the freedom of the Spirit in the midst of a crisis, not a church closed off in institutions.”

“That doesn’t mean that canon law is not important: it is, it helps, and please let’s make good use of it, it is for our good.”

“But the final canon says that the whole of canon law is for the salvation of souls, and that’s what opens the door for us to go out in times of difficulty to bring the consolation of God.”

Just what his own role, as the Bishop of Rome and head of the church, is after the pandemic is a question he’s considering.

“That aftermath has already begun to be revealed as tragic and painful, which is why we must be thinking about it now.”

“The temptation is to dream of a deinstitutionalized church, a gnostic church without institutions, or one that is subject to fixed institutions, which would be a Pelagian church,” Francis says.

“We have to learn to live in a church that exists in the tension between harmony and disorder provoked by the Holy Spirit.”

Francis recommends that reading the Acts of The Apostles will help people understand this.

“There you will see how the Holy Spirit deinstitutionalizes what is no longer of use, and institutionalizes the future of the church.”

“That is the church that needs to come out of the crisis,” he concludes.



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