Three pillars of Pope Francis’ papacy provide ‘a Magna Carta for Catholic Social Services’, Vatican Reporter John L. Allen Jr. told leaders gathered today at the joint Catholic Social Services Australia and Catholic Social Services Victoria, national mission conference.
Keynote speaker Allen, Associate Editor of Crux, said, this Magna Carta includes; firstly the Holy Father’s passion for those on the peripheries namely the poor, refugees and homeless among others. Secondly, his deep missionary concept of the Church, ‘to get out of the sacristy and onto the streets’, and finally, his focus on mercy and being merciful.
‘Knowing these three pillars, you will understand 90 per cent of what Pope Francis is saying during his papacy.’
‘There is a Francis effect at the grassroots level of our Church. This Holy Father has been tremendously bold and dynamic in drawing attention to social justice issues. I think this means that Catholic Social Services have the wind at their back now. Pope Francis has given these issues a new lease of life.’
‘The face of mercy shown by Pope Francis is the blueprint for Catholic social services. A papacy like this may not happen again for a long time, don’t let it go to waste.’
‘Pope Francis will not be remembered as the peoples pope or the theologian, rather as the Pope of mercy.’
‘It’s easy to talk about mercy and to pledge to lift the mission of the Church but translating that is a challenge that requires patience, dialogue, perseverance and a lively sense of humour,’ Allen told over two hundred and fifty Church leaders.
‘He has a great vision for a continental mission across our Church. As a missionary, if there’s a choice between being cautious and being daring, Pope Francis will be daring.’
Allen explained that ‘Pope Francis’ travel diary speaks of his efforts to reach out to the isolated, visiting firstly the island of Lampedusa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. He lives the Gospel principle that the last shall be first.’
‘With an unblinking view of the challenging realities for our Church, our eyes wide open but with a twinkle in our eye, we have a winning strategy for Catholic Social Services in the 21st century,’ Allen concluded.
The conference, ‘Review, Reimagine, Renew, Mission making a difference in a changing world’ is taking place at the Catholic Leadership Centre, Melbourne from 24 – 26 February 2016. A series of workshops are also taking place with a focus on Catholic Social Teaching.
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