Sunday, July 28, 2013

Raise a ruckus

­Today Pope Francis returns to Rome after an incredible journey to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

His visit to a favela was a continuing sign of his commitment to the poor as was his visit to a drug rehabilitation center at a hospital.

He also showed a concern for justice. He raised questions about the police "purification" a few months ago of the poor neighborhood he visited. He spoke strongly for the rights of the indigenous in the Amazon.

He spoke, as he has since his first days as Bishop of Rome, against consumerism, individualism,  and materialism.

He must have driven his security details crazy by his continuing desire to be in contact with people.

He is a personable pope, more like a lovable parish priest than an ecclesiastic. As I wrote previously, he feels like an “Uncle Frank.”

But in Rio, as in other places, he has spoken in ways that should shake up the church. In off the cuff remarks in Spanish to the Argentinian youth in Rio he said:

Quisiera decir una cosa. ¿Qué es lo que espero como consecuencia de la Jornada de la Juventud? Espero lío. Que acá dentro va a haber lío va a haber, que acá en Río va a haber lío va a haber, pero quiero lío en las diócesis, quiero que se salga afuera, quiero que la Iglesia salga a la calle, quiero que nos defendamos de todo lo que sea mundanidad, de lo que sea instalación, de lo que sea comodidad, de lo que sea clericalismo, de lo que sea estar encerrados en nosotros mismos, las parroquias, los colegios, las instituciones son para salir, sino salen se convierten en una ONG ¡y la Iglesia no puede ser una ONG!

Que me perdonen los obispos y los curas, si alguno después le arma lío a ustedes, pero es el consejo. Gracias por lo que puedan hacer.

I shared this on Facebook under the title: “raise a ruckus in the dioceses,” even though the AP translated “lío” as “mess.” One friend suggested “fuss” which is better than “mess.” I might, however, accept “mess” if it were talking about “messing up.” But "ruckus" is, I think, better.

But then I looked today at the Vatican website translation where I found "lio" translated as “noise.” What a way to tame a strong statement. What bishop is going to be upset if the youth make some noise. They’d just be like crying babies in church.

Here’s what the Vatican site translation is:

Let me tell you what I hope will be the outcome of World Youth Day: I hope there will be noise.  Here there will be noise, I’m quite sure.  Here in Rio there will be plenty of noise, no doubt about that.  But I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the Church to go out onto the streets, I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves.  The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out ... if they don’t, they become an NGO, and the Church cannot be an NGO. 

May the bishops and priests forgive me if some of you create a bit of confusion afterwards.  That’s my advice.  Thanks for whatever you can do.

The translation is weak, to put it mildly.

I think the pope is really saying that he wants the youth to raise a ruckus so that the church goes out of itself, that it is truly missionary. But he wants this to be done without clinging to worldliness (which he seems to relate to desire for power and control), without being stuck where the Church is and has been. He warns of getting too comfortable.

Most strikingly, he warns of “clericalism.” Hearing this, I felt so grateful that someone in the hierarchy is warning about “clericalism,” a scourge in the church which I find not limited to one faction in the church. I have seen and experienced the clericalism of some priests who would consider themselves “radicals.” When I priest I work with spoke of his concern about clericalism a few weeks ago I almost fell out of the chair where I was sitting. What a breath of fresh air.

But one sentence of the Vatican translation really takes the cake for trying to gloss over the radical nature of what Pope Francis sai:
Que me perdonen los obispos y los curas, si alguno después le arma lío a ustedes, pero es el consejo.
The Vatican site translation is: 
 May the bishops and priests forgive me if some of you create a bit of confusion afterwards.
A more literal (and, I think, accurate) translation might be:
May you bishops and priests forgive me if some one later raises a ruckus for you. 
That’s a lot more serious than “creating a bit of confusion.” One idiomatic translation of “armar lío” I ran across is “stir up a hornet’s nest.”

This is not the first time I’ve seen the Pope’s words translated in a way that softens their impact – and it probably won’t be the last. So we need to be attentive to attempts to soften his prophetic words.

But the call is clear: “Raise a ruckus,” get out of the closed-in, insular Church and be the Gospel of Love to the world.

I am grateful for a pope who offers a vision of a church in the streets, with the poor, not fearful of going out and making changes. This can help us nurture hope.

This is what he said to young people at the end of his talk in the favela of Varginha, in Rio:
Here, as in the whole of Brazil, there are many young people. Dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good. To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
I hope that he and all of us can truly live up to this challenge – raise a ruckus and don’t be afraid of stirring up a hornet’s nest. That way we may bring to people Jesus, the God of Life.


John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

John Thavis has a really good analyis of World Youth Day which I recommend:

Unfortunately he uses the Vatican site translation of the Pope's remarks to the Argentinian youth.

Charles said...

I have to admit: Pope Francis has exceeded my expectations.

Granted, a very low bar.

I will be very glad if he succeeds at reforming the Church to return it to the mission of serving the poor.