Thursday, November 04, 2010

"Reform Begins With the Pastors": 400 Years a Saint, B16 Hails Borromeo

As previously noted, today's the feast of St Charles Borromeo, the Tridentine-era reformer-bishop of Milan, now honored as patron of seminarians and catechists.

This year, however, the observance takes on an added sense of significance: four hundred years ago this week, the nephew of Pope Pius IV was canonized a quarter-century after his death at 46.

To mark the milestone, this morning saw the release of a papal message, addressed to the current archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi.

Here, the Vatican's (heavily-snipped) English summary of B16's text:
"The time in which Charles Borromeo lived was a very delicate one for Christianity", writes the Pope. "In a period obscured by many trials facing the Christian community, with divisions and doctrinal confusion, the clouding of the purity of faith and custom, and the bad example of many sacred ministers, Charles Borromeo did not limit himself to deploring and condemning, nor simply to expressing hope that others would change; rather, he began to reform his own life".

St. Charles "was aware that serious and credible reform had to begin with pastors". To this end he focused on "the centrality of the Eucharist, ... the spirituality of the cross, ... assiduous participation in the Sacraments, ... the Word of God, ... and love and devotion for the Supreme Pontiff, readily and filially obedient to his directives as a guarantee of true and complete ecclesial communion".

"May St. Charles encourage us always to begin with a serious commitment to personal conversion", writes the Holy Father, going on to encourage priests and deacons "to make of their lives a courageous path of sanctity" and expressing the hope that the Church in Milan may always find in her ministers "a clear faith and a sober and pure life, renewing that apostolic ardour which characterised St. Ambrose, St. Charles and so many of your holy pastors".

"St. Charles was recognised as a true loving father to the poor. ... He founded institutions for the assistance and recovery of those in need. ... During the plague of 1576, the saintly archbishop chose to remain among his people to encourage, serve and defend them with the weapons of prayer, penance and love".

"St. Charles Borromeo's charity cannot be understood without an understanding of his relationship of passionate love with the Lord Jesus". In this context the Holy Father refers to "the contemplation of the holy mystery of the altar and the Crucified Christ" which awakened the saint's "feelings of compassion for man's misery and aroused in his heart the apostolic longing to bring the evangelical message to everyone".

"Let us make the Eucharist the true centre of our communities, let us allow ourselves to be educated and moulded by that well of charity. Each apostolic and charitable action will draw strength and fruitfulness from that source".

The Holy Father concludes his Message with an appeal to young people: "Like St. Charles, you too can make your youth an offering to Christ and your fellows. ... Dear young people, you are not only the hope of the Church, you are part of her present moment. And if you have the courage to believe in sanctity, you will become the greatest treasure of your Ambrosian Church, which is built upon saints".
One of the pontiff's many lines which went untranslated by the Holy See reads in English as follows: "Even in our own time, the ecclesial community does not lack its own trials and sufferings, which themselves show the need for purification and reform".....

Likewise rolled out this morning: the Pope's greeting to the five-yearly plenary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in which Benedict cited an "urgent need" for a renewed "commitment to educating Catholic laity in Church social doctrine."

With precisely that end in mind, under the stamp of (and dedicated to) John Paul II, in 2003 the same Council released the definitive Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church -- a resource as valuable as it's gone widely underused.

In its first full-tilt gathering under the presidency of Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Justice & Peace plenary is tackling B16's contribution to the social Magisterium: his third and latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.

SVILUPPO: "The classic expression of a real reform" -- from 1985's famous Ratzinger Report, a flashback of the now-Pope on St Charles.