Bishops are to expect a great ‘mess’ following the pope’s message to youths during the WYD.
Of all that has been said about the WYD, I found really strange the hope of Pope Francis that youths are to go back to their dioceses and make a ‘mess’. In his own words: “I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools, or structures. Because these need to get out!”
It is clear that Pope Francis hopes that young people stir up things and wake up any dormant institution in their diocese. As it has been clearly evident since being elected as successor of Peter, Pope Francis has been creating a ‘mess’ himself. His style of dealing with things and issues reinforces the message and making it more appealing.
Unlike what some thought, Pope Francis is not in to change for change’s sake. His message builds rather than changes that of previous pontiffs; those tiny details which are more apparent are simply the outer core of his whole message – these are simply the small things which he does differently, yet we shouldn’t stop there without digging for the deeper and much more significant meaning behind these gestures.
The ‘mess’ he is hoping for is in line with an overarching theme he pressed upon ever before being elected pontiff. Pope Francis is constantly asking Catholics to move out of the comfort zones and go to the boundaries of society, what he calls the peripheries.
Yet what is interesting is to see what the consequence of such a ‘rebellious’ intimation will mean; what this mess will be like. It will be even more interesting to see how the 80 (or so) Maltese youths who were in Rio, will behave once they settle back to their normal routine back in Malta.
When it comes to Malta the peripheries are surely not geographical, but rather issues and situations which get little or no attention in the greater picture. These are those issue and situations which one fears discussing, or which one would rather not delve into. The Church needs the courage to act upon these and be more vociferous and I am sure youths in the coming years will be (as always have been) the catalysts for such change.
This great periphery in Malta may not be those dying of hunger. Without diminishing the social responsibility towards these persons, the greater problem in Malta is another type of poverty – at times greater yet less noticeable. It is not the lack of bread but the lack of love, respect and attention.
Those suffering from it are constantly around us and yet we rarely notice them. This is either because they cover it up or because we have become accustomed so much to this kind of poverty that it appears normal, thus becoming complacent to it; a normalisation to suffering which becomes indifference.
The Church, but also society at large, needs to be aware of those living below a poverty line that is very difficult to measure. This is the most urgent ‘mess’ we need to witness.