“The Church is not behind the times, it actually represents strong beliefs that have an effect. It is modernity that is facing a crisis,” said Fr. Enzo Fortunato, a Franciscan theologian and Director of Rivista di San Francesco, the convent’s monthly magazine.
Are movements and the Church as an institution at loggerheads with each other?
“I have never heard the Pope or competent dicasteries say anything against religious movements. I have only ever heard comments about their beauty and richness. I like to think of them as “communicating vessels” that enrich each other.”
Does the Church have difficulty in relating to modernity?
“I believe it is modernity that has difficulties in the relationship it has with itself. Modernity is basically characterised by weak short-lived thinking that does not help humans face the reality of their problems. The Church’s thinking is strong and gives impetus.”
Does the structure of the Church need updating?
“The Church is based on a collegiality which seeks the common good and not to fulfil partial interests. This deep economic and social crisis which the contemporary world is experiencing, is the result of governing powers and States looking after their own interests.”
Are the upper echelons of the Church disconnected from its base?
“It may seem like this but if we compare ourselves to these nuns and monks (and we do so on a daily basis with pilgrims that come to Assisi) it becomes apparent that the media does not give a full portrayal of voluntary work which is more alive than ever and actively engaged in Christian testimony and solidarity. For 2000 years the Church has opened itself up to the world with moderation and wisdom, drawing on its ideas and aspirations.”
What gave rise to the “Vatileaks” scandal in the Catholic Church?
“Benedict XVI is purifying the Church. There have always been scandals, indeed, the first one involved Judas. But the important thing is to intervene even “surgically” if needed, in order to eradicate any form of “cancer”. We leave the rest up to God’s mercy. The only legacy we know is the Gospel. Of course we need to talk with those who attack us. The Church has done so in the past and will carry on doing so, without using words of condemnation and adopting a closed attitude and without distinguishing between sin and sinners: Justicialism is not the Church’s way.
What is the solution?
“As Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi reminds us, today’s mankind sees St. Francis as: “the emblem of dialogue, meeting and friendship. The figure of St. Francis of Assisi attracts everyone, regardless of faith, religion and social condition. He is a universal figure like Christ. But he is not a mere icon; he is able to speak to the hearts of each and every one of us. He is frank and direct and renowned for his no-frills comments on poverty, friendship, the defence of creation, the environment as a God-sent gift and dialogue. How could one forget his meeting with the Sultan of Egypt? How can one not relate to St. Francis’ desire to meet others, those who are far away, different, poor or ill? St. Francis, I repeat, is a universal and highly contemporary figure, who has thee ability to teach Jesus’ way to the people of today through his example, even though more than 800 years have passed since his death.”
Does the Church know how to communicate?
“The Church has never been more open to communication, to new communication methods and to the new language of technological innovation than now. The question should be turned around: are the mass media only interested in church gossip or are they really interested in the extraordinary spiritual, human and fair wealth of the Catholic world?”