.- Pope Francis met with the staff of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica on Friday morning, encouraging them to dialogue with everyone and to avoid the failings of a “self-referential” Church.
“Even the Church, when it becomes self-referential, gets sick and old,” Pope Francis said. “May our gaze, well fixed upon Christ, always be prophetic and dynamic towards the future. In this way you will always remain young and daring in your reading of events!”
La Civilta Cattolica, whose name means “Catholic civilization,” is a primarily Italian-language review that has been published in Rome since it was founded in 1850.
The Pope told the review’s staff that dialogue means “being convinced that the other has something good to say” and “making room for their point of view” without falling into relativism.
Dialogue requires one to “lower the defenses and open the doors.”
“Your fidelity to the Church still needs you to stand strong against the hypocrisies that result from a closed and sick heart,” he told the review’s staff. “But your main task isn’t to build walls but bridges. It is to establish a dialogue with all persons, even those who don't share the Christian faith but ‘who cultivate outstanding qualities of the human spirit.’”
He said dialogue should take place even with “those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways.”
“Through dialogue it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another,” he said.
He noted the example of Father Matteo Ricci, S.J., a pioneering sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary who sought to present Christianity in terms that Asian cultures would find more understandable and accessible.
The Pope praised the “Jesuit treasure” of spiritual discernment. He said this discernment “seeks to recognize the Spirit of God’s presence in human and cultural reality, the seed already planted by his presence in events, feelings, desires, in the deep tensions of our hearts and in social, cultural, and spiritual contexts.”
Pope Francis said La Civilta Cattolica staff are called to help heal the “rift” between the Gospel and the culture, “which even passes through each of your and your readers’ hearts.”
“In today’s world, which is subject to quick changes and is shaken by questions of great importance for the life of faith, it is urgent to have a courageous commitment to educating a convinced and mature faith that is capable of giving meaning to life and of giving convincing answers to those in search of God,” the Pope exhorted.
“Be strong! I’m sure I can count on you.”