Pope Francis: 'Don't turn back clock on Vatican II'

Pope Francis had some inspiring words about our fear of the stirrings of the Holy Spirit, to me the most neglected aspect of the Trinity among Catholics -- even as it moves millions of other Christians to holiness in other parts of the Christian world. As Vatican Radio reports on today's homily, his words were in the context of embracing the changes pushed by the Second Vatican Council:

Pope Francis homily at the mass was centred on the theme of the Holy Spirit and our resistance to it. It took its inspiration from the first reading of the day which was the story of the martyrdom of St. Stephen who described his accusers as stubborn people who were always resisting the Holy Spirit.Put frankly, the Pope continued, the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward. He said that we wish to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong. Pope Francis said thats because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, its what gives us the strength to go forward but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar.Nowadays, he went on, everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but its not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it. The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit. But 50 years later, have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council, he asked. The answer is No, said Pope Francis. We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we dont want it to upset us. We dont want to change and whats more there are those who wish to turn the clock back. This, he went on, is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.

Some could easily read that as a contradiction of Benedict XVI's view of the council, which emphasized taming the "spirit" of the council and undoing changes through a "reform of the reform." I doubt Francis necessarily intended to tweak his predecessor on the ex-pope's 86th birthday, an event Francis also noted and prayed for.In any case, I think this portrait of Benedict, a birthday tribute that Greg Kandra points to, is the real insult to His Other Holiness. It's meant as a nice thing, from the German Embassy to the Holy See. I'm no art critic, but really now...

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.

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