Rorate Caeli

A Letter from the Editor: The difficulty of making a papal pronouncement post in the Age of Francis

Dear Readers,

Will you allow me, in a very rare event, to share with you a moment of frustration?

As every web log writer -- or even as each avid follower of Catholic news, including a good number of you) -- we work each day thinking of good and interesting news and opinion items to share with you. In a blog such as ours, related to no income source of any kind, the joy of sharing good news is one of the best "payments" we get.

It was what happened on Friday, as the first tentative reports of the Pope's daily homily at Casa Santa Marta appeared: words against the spiritual vacuity and emptiness, as exercises of Catholic piety, of non-Christian practices, such as "Yoga" or "Zen meditation"? That seemed just perfect: a post with the available excerpt had to be prepared to show both the good of what was said and our gladness with sharing wise words from the dear Supreme Pontiff.

What remained was just finding the original excerpt and, if it was only available in Italian, to have it translated. Fortunately, an English version was already available at Vatican Radio - quite good. Unfortunately, what had actually been said had been this:

“You can follow a thousand catechism courses, a thousand spirituality courses, a thousand yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God). Only the Holy Spirit can prompt your heart to say ‘Father.’ Only the Holy Spirit is capable of banishing, of breaking that hardness of heart and making it … soft? No, I don’t like that word, … ‘docile’. Docile towards the Lord. Docile when it comes to the freedom to love.”

Is this right? In a sense, as almost everything said by almost every human being in history, of course it has layers of truth and depth. But the negative comparison of non-Christian practices, such as Yoga and Zen meditation, that have driven so many Catholics away from Christ and the Sacraments in the past fifty years, to the essential Christian activity of what bishops are supposed to do (catechize - they are the Ecclesia Docens !) ... is, to say the very least, tiresome and extremely frustrating. The whole baffling nature of the context has been better analyzed elsewhere.

We try - we really do try - every single day to be as good as possible, to present all difficulties of the present moment in the Church and in the world in the best possible light. We try our best. If it at times may appear as if we don't, it is not through our lack of trying.

Believe us: we really do try.