ROME – An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday, arguing that the Church is “never wrong” when listening to the “holy faithful people of God.”
“In theological terms, they call it synodality,” Francis said. “It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.”
But the pope didn’t only refer to the life of the Church in his five-minute video addressed to Father Jose Maria “Pepe” di Paola, a slum priest who collected over 100,000 messages from all over Argentina – from those who live in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires to politicians and everyone in between – lamenting that governments often don’t listen to the people.
“We are used to many times making decisions without consulting the people,” Francis said in a video sent to Di Paola on Wednesday. Important decisions are taken without input at every level, he continued: “Whether for parish life, when the parish priest does not consult the people; be it in provincial life, when the governor does not consult the people; be it in the diocese, when the bishop does not consult the people; be it in the nation, when the authorities do not consult the people, even for important and disputed laws regarding morality.”
“The people are the great absentees,” Francis said, in remarks that can be linked to several laws the Argentine government has passed in recent years, including the legalization of abortion.
As for the video with the messages, Francis said that he “didn’t expect it.” Though this video was not made public, the pope noted that the people in the video “added their voices to say that they are happy with these eight years and that they prayed for me and accompany me.”
He described those who had sent the video as “the voice of the people,” and highlighted that united perhaps “by good wishes,” the group behind it, led by Di Paola, calls itself the “Francis Generation,” in a way following what the pope says and does, “that more or less wishes me well, that doesn’t insult me, that doesn’t speak ill of me and that uses the things I say to do good.”
Those who sent the video to the pope wanted to “sincerely express” what they feel about what Francis has done thus far, “consulting one another spontaneously and sending me these messages,” he says, noting that he won’t be able to answer each one of the over 100,000 people individually.
“I cannot let this gesture go unnoticed, Father Pepe’s gesture of having triggered this resource of consulting the people, the sovereign people,” Francis says in his recording. “Governments are not always sovereign; they are delegates of the people. Authority comes from God through the people.”
“Governments, speaking without offense, including myself as a ruler, are clerks of what God sends us through what he delegates to us,” he says. “When consultation with the people is lacking, sovereignty is lacking.”
Francis then says that “one is never wrong” if the people is consulted, both at a civil level by consulting the people, and as a Church, by consulting the holy faithful of God.
As has become the hallmark of every video Francis has sent throughout his pontificate, he closes his message by asking the members of the Francis Generation to pray for him adding, just in case, that it should be “in favor, not against.”
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