Two addresses by Pope Francis are making the rounds today, both of which provide further insights into his approach to his vocation, as pontiff and as a Jesuit. He seems to still consider himself very much one of the latter. "We Jesuits," Francis said in addressing many of his confreres as he visited the Gesu' in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus.
He was also celebrating the canonization of Peter Faber, the Jesuit whose life of engagement and searching Francis appears to find deeply resonant.
AsiaNews has a report on the pope's powerful homily, which is worth reading in its entirety. This passage has jumped out as an important signpost:
"The temptation, that maybe many of us experience, and many other people have comes to mind; that of linking the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial beatings of condemnation. No, the Gospel is preached gently, fraternally, with love."
That idea was also echoed in Francis' talk in November with the heads of religious communities of men meeting in Rome -- a three-hour conversation characteristic of this pope. According to an official report released today by Civilta' Cattolica (pdf here), at one point -- also indiscussing formation -- Francis said:
“Formation is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the People Of God. This really gives me goose bumps.”
Can Francis change the direction of the church in this regard? It would be yet another welcome shift from the recent past. But it will require transforming a church culture, not just setting new policies.