Friday, March 29, 2013

Papal preacher urges a courageous return to simpler church structures

Robert Mickens
The Tablet
March 30, 2013

Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa – the firebrand preacher of the papal household – has warned that divisions among Christians, overly bureaucratic Church structures and “the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes” are blocking the spread of the Gospel.

In his annual sermon for the Good Friday commemoration of the Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, the bearded friar compared the Church to an old building that had “become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets” to meet various needs over the centuries. “The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle,” he said in Italian before Pope Francis, scores of cardinals and bishops and a basilica filled with worshipers. “So we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins,” he added.

“This was the mission that was received one day by a man who prayed before the Crucifix of San Damiano: ‘Go, Francis, and repair my Church’,” Fr Cantalamessa said.

“May the Holy Spirit, in this moment in which a new time is opening for the Church, full of hope, reawaken in men who are at the window the expectancy of the message, and in the messengers the will to make it reach them, even at the cost of their life,” the brown-robed friar said.

The carefully choreographed service featured the veneration of the cross and the singing, by three deacons, of the Lord’s Passion. The entire ceremony was in Latin and stretched to just over two hours long.

The full text of the homly is available here.

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