Pope tells Italian Church to innovate

Francis tells clergy not to be obsessed with power

(by Giovanna Chirri).
    (ANSA) - Florence, November 10 - Pope Francis set out his vision for a "restless" Church that does not fear innovation and reform during a convention in Florence on Tuesday.
    "I would like the Italian Church to be restless, ever closer to the abandoned, the forgotten, the imperfect," the pope told delegates to the fifth national convention of the Italian Catholic Church gathered at the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in the Tuscan regional capital. "I want a joyful Church with a mother's face, one that understands, accompanies, caresses. You also must dream of this Church, believe in it, renew with freedom," Francis continued. The pope called on the Italian Church to renounce power, its fixation with structures, the myth of relevance in order to become the "church of the beatitudes" that can "make the world a better place" in "dialogue" with all people of good will.
    He then urged young people to overcome their apathy.
    "I ask you to be builders of Italy, to set to work for a better Italy. Don't watch life from the balcony, but get stuck in, immerse yourselves in the broad social and political dialogue," Francis said.
    "Let the hands of your faith reach up to heaven," he added.
    He spoke for roughly an hour, after hearing the testimony of a woman baptised in adulthood, a remarried couple and an Albanian immigrant who had become a priest in Florence.
    At times his words appeared to echo those of his predecessor Benedict XVI whose calls for a "gentle church" at the Verona convention in 2006 apparently fell on deaf ears. Drawing inspiration from the face of the suffering Christ, he said 'Christian humanism" - the theme of the convention - means humanism "born of the humanity of the Son of God".
    "These characteristics of humility, disinterest and beatitude also have something to say to the Italian church," the pope continued.
    "They tell us that we must not be obsessed with 'power', even when this seems useful and functional to the social image of the Church. If the Church doesn't adopt Jesus' sentiments, it becomes disorientated, meaningless," Francis said.
    He asked delegates to adopt "the spirit of the great sea voyagers who were passionate about navigating on the open seas and unafraid of the confines and storms".
    "Let it be a Church that is free and open to the challenges of the present, never on the defensive for fear of losing something," he concluded.