Parolin: Pope Francis, Pontificate of joy
By Luca Collodi
It has already been five years; they have passed very, very quickly, to the rhythm of many happy and sad events. The fact remains that the election of a Pope and his ministry are always a gift for the Church and for humanity, whose spiritual and ecclesial significance must be considered, evaluated, read in the light of faith and the action of Providence. This anniversary makes us think a little 'about what are the characteristic features of the Magisterium and the action of Pope Francis. Thinking about it, a thought came to me that has been on my mind for some time. It struck me that all the documents or at least the most important ones - I speak of Evangelii gaudium, which was something of a programmatic document for his Pontificate, but then “Amoris laetitia” and also, perhaps indirectly, “Laudato sì” –they always recall joy: Evangelii gaudium, Amoris laetitia, Laudato sì ', the praise that is born of joy from a soul full of joy. And then, perhaps, I would like to say that the fundamental characteristic of this Pontificate is precisely joy, a joy that does not arise evidently from carelessness, but from the fact of knowing that one is loved by the Lord. Then there is the other feature of his Pontificate: mercy, that is, a personal and total love that God has for each of his creatures and on the other side, the joy of communicating this good news of the Gospel to others; the fact of announcing, bringing to others the announcement of the salvation of Jesus becomes a source of joy for those who receive it, but also for those who proclaim it. It is a shared joy. Then, the third aspect seems to me that of evangelization, that of the outward looking Church that must bring the Gospel to all of creation. It seems to me that these are in a few words, at least for me, the fundamental characteristics of this Pontificate.
How to respond to criticism
Certainly one of the characteristics - even for a little bit we resume the first question - of Pope Francis’ papacy is precisely this dimension of an outward looking Church, a Church in movement, hence the pressing invitation that the Pope has made since the 'beginning, not to remain firm, not to appeal to the principle "it has always been so" - and he says it explicitly in the Evangelii gaudium - not to take any step forward. Naturally we know well where this path leads; this path leads to a greater fidelity of the Church to its nature as the People of God and the Body of Christ and to a greater effectiveness in its evangelizing mission. So, probably, without judging anyone, just this push, this dynamism that the Pope has stressed and wants to impress on the Church, can be the cause of different, conflicting and sometimes even opposing judgments. In a sense it is normal, I think, the fact that all the pontificates have been criticized. Then as regards the criticism I would distinguish between those that are destructive, aggressive, really bad criticisms - we use this word - and those that are constructive criticisms. And then there is probably a different way to react and respond to these two types of criticisms. As for the aggressive and destructive criticism, all that remains is to accept them “in cruce” (on the cross)and consider them as part of that crown of thorns that we all have to bear, especially those who have responsibilities in the Church and therefore also have a public role. So there's nothing to be done. I think they will never go away, they will always be there. As far as constructive criticism is concerned, I believe that it must be taken into account because it can help, be an aid to improvement, and even improve one's service. I think that constructive criticism is that which arises from fundamentally an attitude of love and that aim of building communion in the Church. It seems to me that this is a fundamental criterion; it aims at communion in the Church and also wants to help the Pope to better exercise his Magisterium and his ministry in favour of the whole Church.
What is your wish for Pope Francis?
I believe that the wish that many people have, both within the Church and outside, people who look to Pope Francis as an important and significant figure in the contemporary world, is this: the wish that the Lord gives him life, health, strength, courage to continue to lead the Church. Then we conclude with the words of the ancient prayer: "Deus conservet eum et vivificet eum" - "May God preserve him and give him strength” . We wish the Holy Father all the best. Ad multos annos, Holy Father.