Of course many things led to the Argentine cardinal becoming our pope, but the following (short) speech is what seemed to change the hearts of electors during the pre-Conclave General Congregations, including Archbishop Francis George of Chicago who was on the fence who to vote for at the time. (For a detailed account of not only Bergoglio’s life but of everything that led up to his election, check out the detailed biography: The Great Reformer)
During these General Congregation meetings, each cardinal was given five minutes to make a speech about what qualities they think the next pope should have and in what direction the next pope should guide the Church. Then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was one of the very few that came in under the allotted time; his was only three and a half minutes. In fact, he didn’t even have his speech written down, he was just going off some notes and if it were not for Cuba’s cardinal for seeking out a transcript we wouldn’t be able to get this illuminating glimpse into Bergoglio’s idea of the Church.
The speech pairs well with Pope Francis’ (we’re still talking about the same person as before in case you’re not the most polished statue at the Vatican) call of conversion to all sinners. It is also a good preface to his comments about how the Church is like a “field hospital” to those devoured by the despair of sin. He explains that the Church doesn’t exist for itself by its own power but exists for the universe by the power of Christ.
I am going to paste the speech below along with the quick blurb written by Andrea Tornielli to introduce it. Bold sections are parts I think are particularly important.
Bergoglio began with a reference to evangelization: “The sweet and comforting joy of evangelization” (quoting Pope Paul VI) “It is Jesus Christ himself who spurs us on from inside,” followed by four concise points (see below) which the Pope touched on in his speech to cardinals during the General Congregations.
1. “Evangelizing supposes apostolic zeal. Evangelize implies that the Church should speak candidly, coming out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only in the geographical sense but also to go to the existential peripheries: those of the mysteries of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and of religious indifference, of thought, of all misery.”
2. “When the Church does not come out of itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and then gets sick (cf. the woman hunched over the Gospel). The evils that, over time, occur in ecclesiastical institutions have roots in referentiality, a sort of theological narcissism. In Revelation Jesus says he is at the door and knocks. Obviously the text refers to hitting from outside the door to enter … But think of the times when Jesus knocks from within to let himself out. The self-referential Church seeks Jesus Christ within and does not let him out.”
3. “When the Church is self-referential, unwittingly believed to have its own light, it is no longer the mysterium lunae (mystery of the moon) and leads to the evil that is so serious: spiritual worldliness (According to de Lubac, the worst evil that can befall the Church). That lives to give glory to one another rather than God. The Church, when it is self-referential, without realizing it, believes it has a light of its own; it ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives rise to this evil that is so serious[,] that of spiritual wordliness. It lives for the glory to be given to each other. Put simply, there are two images of Church: the evangelizing Church taking leave of itself which religiously hears the Word of God and faithfully proclaims it (Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans) or the worldly Church living in itself, of itself, for itself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms that must be done for the salvation of souls.”
4. “Thinking about the next pope: a man who, from the contemplation of Jesus Christ and from worshiping Jesus Christ helps the Church out of itself to the outskirts of the existential, that helps Her to be a fruitful Mother, living “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.”
Pope Francis is holy, honest, kind, smart, humorous, open, vibrant, pastoral, and inspirational. He is a beautiful pope. Pope Francis, please continue praying for us, we are praying for you.
To read the entire article that I quoted from, click here.