Vatican City, May 23, 2019 / 11:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday condemned an exaggerated focus on plans and agendas which do not leave room for the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit.
He cautioned against “those particular churches, those who do so much in the organization, plans, to have everything clear, all distributed.”
“It makes me suffer,” he said May 23, at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the opening of the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.
In his homily, Francis warned against “the temptation of efficiency,” which he said causes people to think everything in the Church is going well as long as it is under control, “without shocks,” and “agenda always in order.”
“But the Lord does not proceed like this; in fact, to his followers he does not send an answer, he sends the Holy Spirit,” he underlined. “And the Spirit does not come bearing an agenda, it comes as fire.”
The pope also said that “Jesus does not want the Church to be a perfect model, which is pleased with its own organization and is capable of defending its good name.”
Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of over 160 Caritas organizations around the world. There are 450 delegates attending the general assembly, which takes place every four years, and is running in Rome May 23-28.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, Philippines, is president of Caritas Internationalis. He told journalists May 23 that this general assembly has a record number of attendees, which he attributed, in part, to “the Francis effect.”
In his homily, Pope Francis urged the group of Caritas delegates to remember to listen to the small and the least, through whom Christ is revealed.
“It is always important to listen to everyone’s voice, especially the little ones and the least,” he said, adding that, “in the world, those who have more means speak more, but between us it cannot be like this, because God loves to reveal himself through the small and the least. And he asks everyone not to look down on anyone from the top.”
The pope also reflected on the day’s first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles. He explained that it tells of a great meeting in the history of the Church, when pagans were converting to the Christian faith, and the disciples were deciding if the pagan converts needed to follow the same norms of the ancient law as the others.
“It was a difficult decision to make,” Francis said, since Jesus had since ascended into Heaven, and he was no longer there among them to question directly about how to proceed.
From this passage, the pope said, “we learn three essential elements for the Church on its way: the humility of listening, the charism of the whole, the courage of renunciation.”