You have heard it all before:
‘Jesus does not want the church to be a perfect model, satisfied with its own organization and able to defend its good name… Jesus did not live like this, but on a journey, without fearing the upheavals of life.’
Living like Jesus demands the ‘courage of renunciation’ …a willingness to abandon traditions that are dear to us.
Changing and adapting is not about imposing something new, ‘but leaving aside something old.’
‘God often purifies, simplifies, and makes us grow by taking away, not by adding, as we might do.’
‘True faith cleanses from attachments. As a church, we are not called to corporate compromises, but to evangelical enterprise.’
These are words of Pope Francis, in a recent address to the 21st general assembly of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s global charitable outreach. These words have a name. They are called Protestantism.
But this is not the old Protestantism of Luther and Calvin, robust and forthright; but the soft-edged protestations of liberal Anglicans. One can almost hear the emollient episcopal murmurings peculiar to the tribe. But setting aside the verbiage, and the imprecise generalities, what – you will ask – is Francis up to?
The smart money is on the proposition that this was a softening-up exercise before the projected Amazonian synod, and the oft-canvassed abandonment of clerical celibacy. They are probably writing the post-Synodal Exhortation now…