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Against Triumphalism and Spiritual Worldliness

Diego Fares SJ- La Civiltà Cattolica - Fri, Apr 1st 2022


The temptation to triumphalism – Christianity without the cross – and its more insidious form, spiritual worldliness – is difficult to discern. If there is a theme in the magisterium of Bergoglio-Francis that recurs with particular frequency, it is precisely this.[1]In the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, pronouncing a “no to spiritual worldliness,” Francis put it in black and white. The alternative is between a Church on the move to evangelize the world and a Church invaded by spiritual worldliness: “This is a tremendous corruption, disguised as a good. We need to  avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centeredness, and our being cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God” (EG 97).

Back in 1984 Bergoglio had stated: “The triumphalist attitude is not always obvious. Most of the time it appears sub angelo lucis in the choice of our pastoral methods, but it can always be traced back to the invitation to come down from the cross.”[2] Henri de Lubac had prophetically defined triumphalism, even in the subtle form it takes as “spiritual worldliness,” as the worst damage the Church can suffer: “I always find striking the last three pages of Father de Lubac’s book: Meditations on the Church[3] where he spoke precisely of spiritual worldliness. He said that it is the worst of the evils that can happen to the Church. This was not an exaggeration. He listed some terrible evils, and this is the worst: spiritual worldliness, because it is a hermeneutic of life. It is a way of living, even a way of living Christianity.”[4]

The concepts that characterize this temptation to triumphalism and worldliness must not lead us to think that these are superficial issues. The pope recalls that worldliness hates the faith, steals the Gospel from us, kills those who resolutely oppose it, our martyrs,[5] just as it killed the Lord, and seduces those who are willing to accept it in any form, rejecting the cross. “It is curious: ‘But Father,’ someone might say to me, ‘worldliness is a superficial way of life…’ Let us not deceive ourselves! Nothing about worldliness is superficial! It has deep roots, deep roots.  

It is like a chameleon, it changes, it comes and goes according to circumstances, but the substance is the same, a style of life that enters everywhere, including the Church. Worldliness, the worldly hermeneutic, maquillage, everything can be made up to appear a certain way.”[6] 

A temptation difficult to discern

Since the pope affirms that this is a temptation that touches even our way of living and interpreting reality, and that it is difficult to discern, the issue must be addressed in all seriousness. The difficulty is not in understanding the “idea” of triumphalism from a sociological or psychological perspective, but rather in making a real “evangelical discernment” (EG 50) in each case, by which each person or the whole Church hears, interprets and chooses what leads her to go out to evangelize and rejects what leads her to close in on herself, or wants to invade her. It is necessary to discern in every circumstance the behaviors, situations and structures in which worldliness is hidden and concealed.

Evangelii Gaudium clearly points out that neutrality  is not an option: if we do not give glory to God, we give it to one another (cf. EG 93); if our preaching is not inculturated, it becomes abstract and Gnostic. If we are not shepherds who shepherd the sheep, we become controlling neo-Pelagian mercenaries (cf. EG 94). If we do not take upon ourselves the humiliations of our cross, internal wars begin among us (cf. EG 98). So we believe that this is not only an important issue, but a matter of life and death. And in order to fight well, it is necessary to discover the “dynamism” of this triumphalist temptation, so as to connect its bad fruits with the root that feeds them.

Believing you hold the truth in your hands: ‘hubris’

Let us enter into the subject with the help of one of those original expressions that are typical of Francis. Some time ago, speaking about triumphalism in a private meeting, the pope used an expression that he had already used when he was cardinal in his dialogues with Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Triumphalism, he said, enters cuando uno se cree que tiene la precisa, “it enters when we believe we have the truth in hand,”[7] that is to say, when we believe we do not need to engage in the demanding work involved in carrying out a process of discernment, or take on the pastoral tasks at the service of God’s people, who are asking their pastor for presence and definite direction.

We have translated the expression tener la precisa, a typical Argentinean expression, as “to have the truth in hand.” Usually, this expression describes the mentality of those affected by the so-called “hubris syndrome,” the syndrome of the arrogant individual, that is, of those who believe they know it all and feel superior and unpunishable. Hubris in Greek (in English, pride) indicates the presumption, excess and lack of moderation of those who exceed the limits marked out by justice.

This is not only a religious phenomenon, far from it.[8] Its logic is present at every stage and in every area of life. We need only think of how quickly we learn as children to rejoice, as if it were a glorious victory, at some sporting success at which we see adults rejoicing. This logic becomes a true paradigm,  the technocratic paradigm that today is homogeneous and one-dimensional and reduces reality in order to totally dominate (succeed) in some areas of interest to the powerful. Economists, politicians and technicians are fascinated by the (false) idea of infinite growth and the “false notion that ‘an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, which leads to squeezing the planet to the limit and beyond the limit’” (Laudato Si’ [LS], No. 106).

Hubris is the excess into which the proud fall when they enjoy humiliating someone weak. Logic links hubris to some overstepping of limits, which triggers the subsequent nemesis or vengeance of the gods against the humans who have not remained in their place in the universe. Those who are dominated by hubris feed on triumphs, considering them “prey.” It is significant that in Greek the action of rape is called hubrizein. Underneath the horrible abuses carried out in the Church there is the sin of hubris, the immoderate arrogance that is very well concealed and yet can be perceived in some of its manifestations, sometimes apparently superficial.[9] Today the pope is concerned about the link that has been observed recently in the Church between the manifest triumphalism of some new movements and personalities and the hidden abuses that were taking place among them.[10]

The context: the era of the ‘Letters of the Tribulation’

It is important to remember in what context Bergoglio dealt organically with the theme of “triumphalism.” He did so in the period of tribulation that he spent in Córdoba, between June 1990 and May 1992. In December 1990 he wrote a series of notes, later published under the title “Silencio y Palabra,”[11] conceived – as he explains in the introduction – to help in discernment “a religious community that was going through difficult times.”[12] In other words, the character of the writing is clearly pastoral, addressed to a specific community that found itself in a particular situation.

Austen Ivereigh – undoubtedly the pope’s best biographer – finds this text written in times of tribulation “doubly fascinating”: “The community was obviously the Argentine Jesuit province, and what makes the discernment doubly fascinating was that the spiritual forces he [Bergoglio] saw at work in its crisis were the same as Pope Francis would later seek to combat in the Church as a whole.”[13]

It was this that induced La Civiltà Cattolica, with the consent of the pope, to re-edit the Letters of Tribulation and to comment on them. The paradigmatic attitude of a “great persecution,” such as the one from which these Letters emerge, “provides a spiritual framework for dealing with any other. It follows the spirit of the Letter of Peter to ‘not be surprised at the fiery ordeal’ that breaks out (1 Pet 4:12) when there is persecution.”[14]

The method and roots of triumphalism

This is a text that seeks “the comfort of the common faith” in a time of tribulation. Bergoglio spontaneously imposed silence on himself about the heavy situation he was experiencing and, when he decided to speak to help others, since it was not possible to “make explicit an overall vision” of the conflict, he “sought and found” in Scripture, in the Exercises and in the Letters of Tribulation the “method for reading history.”[15]

We can say that the way of reading history adopted by Bergoglio is properly contemplative in action. It is a method that involves practical steps, and not just theoretical ones, to make the bad spirit of triumphalism “jump out.” Bergoglio chooses a period of silence; he withdraws himself and does not discuss the issue; he accuses himself before others. These are ways to make room for God’s light. Finally, he does not interrupt the silence to elaborate an abstract discourse, but to make an evangelical discernment of a real situation.[16] To this complex situation, at the most, one can add only “captions and clarifications,” when one sees signs of the temptation to build one’s own project in place of God’s project.

In “Silencio y palabra” Bergoglio describes attitudes and seeks connections between the various temptations that are opposed to God’s plan and that are more characteristic of a time of tribulation. Several such instances appeared within that specific situation. Among others, there was division into internal factions: “The activist of the ‘factions’ is […] one who ‘goes beyond’ the community, with their personal project: they are the proagón (2 John 1:9).”[17] Another temptation is ambition disguised as piety: “One seeks one’s own promotion, but in an underhand way […], having previously chosen one’s own path: ‘I serve you, but in my own way’.”[18] Another is the lack of poverty of the little party instead of the feast, so that the “feast of the Lord,” which always has an eschatological dimension, is reduced to a little faction.

Another temptation is attachment to penumbra and distrust. The distrustful person “possesses a self-confidence that borders on megalomania, grown out of the many or few successes that their conduct has brought them.”[19] Then there is negotiation: “Simple human negotiation is always, in the Society, first or second track. […] If one renounces [a badly conducted negotiation] it will be a sign that one seeks the good of all over that of one party.”[20] Finally, there is triumphalism and its most insidious expression, spiritual worldliness, which always result in some animosity against those who are just.[21] The strength we notice in Bergoglio’s descriptions lies in the fact that he does not take into account “ideas” but real situations.

On the other hand, Bergoglio delves into the temptations until he discerns the root common to all of them: the rejected cross and the cultivation of self instead of the greater glory of God. Then he seeks specific and very personal remedies to discover, confront and reject such temptation, also pointing out “the real protagonists” of this war: God and Satan.

Triumphalism seems  like any other temptation, but since it lies at the root of all temptations against the cross of Christ and the glory of the Father,[22] here it is unmasked as the main opposition to God’s plan. Speaking about the Jesuits in 1985, Bergoglio expressed a consideration that is valid for all: “If, as we said, the nucleus of Jesuit identity is found – as St. Ignatius said – in adherence to the cross (through poverty and humiliation), the cross as the true triumph, the fundamental sin of the Jesuit will be precisely the caricature of the triumph of the cross: ‘triumphalism’ as the soul of all his actions; the ‘myth of success,’ the pursuit of self-interest, his own things, his own opinion, the preference of people, power.”[23]

Marian stamp: remedies against triumphalism

When the time comes to seek a remedy and help to fight well against the evil one, the Blessed Virgin plays a decisive role in Bergoglio-Francis’ spirituality, which has a distinctly Marian stamp: “Mary appears in the reflection when Bergoglio evokes the Incarnation, contradiction, the cross. The Mother is a symbol of flesh, the heart, and tenderness.”[24]

In “Silencio y palabra,” Bergoglio arranged his reflections around six powerful images of Our Lady: Mary in silence who meditates on everything in her heart; Mary who “unties the knots” we have created for ourselves; Mary who protects her children under her own mantle; Mary who, with effort of the heart, resists evil and sings the Magnificat in Elizabeth’s house; Mary who prays in the Upper Room with the apostles around her “pressed together like sardines” as they wait for the Lord. The strongest image – the last one – is that of Our Lady at the foot of the cross: “Triumphalism was destroyed in the weary heart of our Lady at the foot of the cross.”[25]

The antidote to triumphalism consists in that particular effort of the heart which St John Paul II pointed out in Our Lady, and which Bergoglio always takes up as a sign of faith: “Faced with the hard and painful events of life, responding with faith costs “a particular effort of the heart.”[26] It is the night of faith. […] Mary on Golgotha is faced with the total denial of that promise: her Son in agony on a cross like a malefactor. So triumphalism, destroyed by Jesus’ humiliation, was equally destroyed in the Mother’s heart; both knew how to keep silent.”[27]

The turmoil of Mary’s heart is part of the history of a large number of witnesses who have lived and who live among the ranks of God’s faithful people. The people discern and manifest what they are, not only with actions, but also in suffering: with their resistance to evil, passive in the sense that it is non-violent, but active in a faith that acts through charity. Bergoglio takes this doctrine from St. Augustine, according to whom “the measure of Christian health and orthodoxy lies not so much in the way of acting as in the way of resisting.”[28] He explains some signs of resistance, which he defines as “Christian signs”: “The struggle of the poor, of the humble, of children, […] which is expressed through gestures and attitudes of a child, such as receptivity, the ability to listen, walking… [This resistance] sets aside any kind of triumphalism.”[29]

The faithful are aware of the true enemy and know how to find refuge in the Virgin Mother. “On the ceiling of the domestic chapel of the Society’s residence in Córdoba – where Bergoglio prayed – an image is painted. The novice brothers are shown under Mary’s mantle, well protected; and underneath are the words: Monstra te esse matrem (“Show that you are mother”). In moments of spiritual turbulence, when God wants to make war, our place is under the mantle of the holy Mother of God.”[30] There the devil has no access. If we take refuge under Our Lady’s mantle when the battle is so fierce, it is because we have realized the true dimension of the war: it is not our war, but God’s, the true protagonist against whom the devil fights.[31]

Learning to read history from the perspective of faith and to live it consistently is tiring for the heart, but let us not forget that corde intelligitur. Discerning God’s will amidst the ambiguities of life strains the heart, but since it is an effort  for good, it makes discernment more lucid and solid, even though at times ambiguity thickens and the decisions to be taken are crucifying. The fatigue of Our Lady’s heart is the place par excellence from which God’s faithful people endure. The shepherd is also defined by his ability to resist evil, alongside his people. Therefore, in God’s eyes our weariness is magnificent. Our fatigue, because of the burden of pastoral work, is precious in the eyes of Jesus.[32]

Ultimately, Bergoglio contrasts the hubris of triumphalism with the fatigue of work, which involves gradually discovering God’s will and realizing it in our lives. Taking a step forward in faith, resisting evil, interpreting the signs of the times well, reading history from the perspective of faith, like Mary, wearies the heart, because it requires work and discernment.

Three attitudes that threaten the efforts of the heart

Francis points out some attitudes that reveal worldliness and triumphalism. One of them concerns time and celebration. Triumphalists are noted because they “celebrate prematurely”: “The fatigue of the heart is threatened by the lack of hope, by the omnipotent gesture of anticipating the triumph by using other quicker ways, through the shortcut of negotiation, of anticipating the triumph without passing through the cross.”[33]

“Celebrating every step forward in evangelization” (EG 24) is a good thing. But the feast that anticipates the triumph, the Eucharist, is not just any feast. A Eucharist not only involves  consolation and reward, but also is  a viaticum for the journey of the Church that goes forth. The Eucharistic feast is inclusive, not like the triumphalist feast, which is elitist. And it is a feast with shared bread and the washing of the feet, that is, the prophetic gesture that encloses and apostolically expands the pontificate of Francis.

Celebrating beforehand can become a habit that creates dependence and little by little it becomes a way of reading and living history. The little party weakens the fertile tension of hope,[34] which makes us “maintain our positions,” resisting evil, and leads us to prepare to go out again to battle, always for the greater glory of God.

This way of living time by privileging the moment undermines hope and is reflected in language. Generally speaking, triumphalism has its own narrative or, more precisely, it coincides with one’s own narrative, for the most part. This narrative is a caricature of the history of salvation, because “it feeds on partial successes and words capable of explaining them, as in the history of God with actions and with words, but with the difference that they did not pass through the crucible of the cross nor through the vision of faith.”[35]

Another attitude: triumphalists “are also basically statisticians.”[36] They love statistics. But they use them because they need to compare their successes with others and, to do so, they always choose those who, according to them, are worse than them. The prototype is the Pharisee who prays standing up and feels the need to compare himself with the publican, whom he despises. Bergoglio concludes by saying that the triumphalist eats carrion; he is like a hyena. This practice of making comparisons r makes one lose the fruitful tension toward being perfect (in mercy) as the Father is.

If we observe Our Lady, we will notice how the triumph that takes place at the foot of the cross has been present from the beginning of her journey of faith. As soon as she received the happy announcement of her conception, Mary set out; she made herself of service. She did not simply “elaborate a narrative of what had happened,” but went about pondering things in her own heart. We can grasp the effort it took to make that hasty journey to Ain Karim (cf. Luke 1:39). It is precisely because of that effort of the heart that the most beautiful hymn of praise to God resounds, clear and free from all ambition: the Magnificat, in the light of which we read and interpret history.

‘Abstraction, for me, is always a problem’

Let us pause for a moment to reflect on the abstract language of spiritual worldliness. There is an error, a defect of method, in setting out to think and instrumentalize the truths revealed by Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, solely by means of abstract words and rational discourse. Using abstraction and rational discourse is proper to theology as a science, but triumphalism claims that the conclusions of a given theology coincide with revealed truth in an exclusionary manner and must be imposed on everyone. This is not the path by which Jesus, the Incarnate Word, chose to reveal himself.

In his short speech to the cardinals in the General Congregations held in the days preceding the conclave, Bergoglio spoke in these terms to highlight what “image of Church” should be avoided in the future: “When the Church is self-referential, without realizing it she believes she has a light of her own. She ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to the most serious evil of spiritual worldliness: living to give glory to one another. To simplify, there are two images of the Church: either the evangelizing Church that comes out of itself, that Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans, or the worldly Church that lives in itself, of itself, for itself. This must illuminate the possible changes and reforms that will have to be made for the salvation of souls.”[37]

According to the pope, this is a time of ideologies, which must be unmasked, not by debating with them, but by going to the roots and showing why they are ideologies, starting from their fruits. In the recent meeting he had during his apostolic journey to Slovakia, Francis told the Jesuits working in that country: “When I talk about ideology, I’m talking about the idea, the abstraction in which everything is possible, not about the concrete life of people and their real situation.”[38] A spontaneous statement by Francis in that context – “abstraction is always a problem for me” – is very suggestive, because it clarifies many things about his way of thinking.

The pope referred to this temptation at the opening of the Synod: “A second risk is intellectualism. Reality turns into abstraction and we, with our reflections, end up going in the opposite direction. This would turn the Synod into a kind of study group, offering learned but abstract approaches to the problems of the Church and the evils in our world. The usual people saying the usual things, in a superficial and worldly way, and ending up along familiar and unfruitful ideological and partisan divides, far removed from the reality of the holy People of God and the concrete life of communities around the world.” [39]

Francis is convinced that thinking and reflecting involve engaging in a process of discernment of specific situations, not developing abstract theories, much less discussing them. His aversion to abstraction says much, too, about his way of communicating narratively rather than by definitions, and about his way of exercising his ministry of leadership, always remaining in the role of pastor, even in relation to those who criticize him and do not obey, without falling into politics.

‘Be a shepherd!’

If at the intellectual level, triumphalism becomes ideological – every ideology is in itself triumphalistic – at the practical level, that  of government, it falls into politics and functionalism. This is well illustrated by what Francis said on his return flight from the apostolic journey to Budapest and Slovakia.[40] To a question from Irish journalist Gerard O’Connell on what he “advises the American bishops” regarding the burning issue of giving or denying communion to President Biden, Francis gave a masterful answer. He set forth what he would say to a bishop who had “theoretical” doubts: “Be a pastor, the pastor knows what he must do at all times, but as a pastor. But if he leaves this pastoral aspect of the Church, immediately he becomes a politician. You will see this in all the denunciations, in all the ‘non-pastoral’ condemnations that the Church makes. With this principle I believe that a pastor can move well. The principles are of theology. Pastoral care is theology and the Holy Spirit leading you to act in God’s style.”

Here is the center of the answer on giving or denying communion: “But the problem is not theological, which is simple, the problem is pastoral [Francis accompanied the phrase with a hand gesture, as if to touch the problem] how we bishops handle this principle pastorally. If we look at the history of the Church, we will see that every time the bishops have managed a problem not as pastors they have taken sides on political life, on the political problem. […] When the Church defends a principle, but does so not pastorally, it takes sides on a political level. And this has always been so, just look at history. And what must the pastor do? Be a pastor. Be a pastor and not go about  condemning: be a pastor. But also the pastor of the excommunicated? Yes, he is pastor and must be a pastor with him, be a pastor with the style of God. And the style of God is closeness, compassion and tenderness. […] A pastor who does not know how to manage with the style of God, slips and gets involved in many things that are not relevant for a pastor.”

The secret of Francis lies in the fact that he never shirks his role as a pastor; he remains such even in the face of those who would like to drag him into the terrain of political questions, abstract  theology or casuistic morality. The “turning point” of Francis consists in placing the Church, continuously, in a stance of being outgoing. Without it being necessary to affirm anything, the mere fact of “having to go out again” eliminates at the root any triumphalism, which instead rests on the conviction “that one has arrived.” Here there are echoes of the times Jesus goes out to “his other sheep”: “I must bring them also… I have received this command from my Father” (John 10:1-18). Paul echoes him: “Forgetting what lies behind […], I press on toward the goal” (Phil 3:13-14).

For the Church to go out again is “synodal,” and this will ensure that the toil of the heart is shared by all. As Francis said in inaugurating the Synod, “the Spirit will guide us and give us the grace to go forward together, to listen to one another and to initiate discernment in our time, becoming in solidarity with the labors and desires of humanity.” [41]

DOI: La Civiltà Cattolica, En. Ed. Vol. 6, no.1 art. 9, 0122: 10.32009/22072446.0122.9

[1].      At the beginning of his pontificate Francis said, “The triumphalism that belongs to Christians is that which passes through human failure, the failure of the cross. Allowing oneself to be tempted by other triumphalisms, by worldly triumphalisms, means yielding to the temptation to conceive of a ‘Christianity without the cross,’ a ‘half-hearted Christianity’” (Francis, Homily at Santa Marta, May 29, 2013).

[2].      J. M. Bergoglio, “La cruz y la misión,” in Boletín de espiritualidad, No. 89, September-October 1984. Now in Id., Cambiamo! Milan, Solferino, 2020, 232.

[3].      Cf. H. de Lubac, Meditazione sulla Chiesa, Milan, Paulines, 1955.

[4].       Francis, Homily at Santa Marta, May 16, 2020.

[5].      Attitudes of pride and worldly contempt on the part of those who kill the martyrs are habitually present at the martyrdom of those who are consistent with the faith.

[6].       Francis, Homily at Santa Marta, May 16, 2020, op. cit.

[7].      “Sometimes people think they hold the truth in their hands, but they do not. […] I tell people not to know God by hearsay. The living God is the one they will see with their own eyes within their own heart” (J. M. Bergoglio – A. Skorka, Il cielo e la terra. Il pensiero di Papa Francesco sulla famiglia, la fede e la missione della Chiesa nel XXI secolo, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 15).

[8]  .    It is interesting to note that in mythology the punishments associated with hubris are many and varied, and all relate to believing oneself superior. The Epicurean poet Lucretius interpreted the myth of Sisyphus as the personification of politicians who aspire to public office, but are constantly defeated by it. The pursuit of power, itself an “empty thing,” is compared to the rolling of a boulder up a hill. Tantalus, for stealing ambrosia, was condemned to have an implacable hunger and thirst forever. Icarus sinned with hubris, because he flew too close to the sun. The mimetic root of triumphalism is spiritual, so this passion can take many forms, depending on what makes each individual feel triumphant. It is this deceptive and sometimes hidden reality that lurks in those who are possessed by this vice.

[9] .    As the proverb says, “God punishes secret pride with manifest lust.”

[10].    “The Holy Spirit undoubtedly blows where He wills and when He wills. […] However, I am personally impressed by the fact that this phenomenon is sometimes accompanied by a certain triumphalism. And triumphalism, in truth, does not convince me. I am wary of these manifestations of fecundity almost “in vitro” or of these triumphalist manifestations or messages according to which salvation is here or there” (Francesco, La forza della vocazione. Conversazione con Fernando Prado, Bologna, EDB, 2018, 44).

[11].    This title is inspired by Romano Guardini, who speaks of the polar tension between silence and speech, far from the extremes of mutism and noise (cf. R. Guardini, Etica, Brescia, Morcelliana, 2021).

[12].    J. M. Bergoglio, “Silencio y Palabra”, in Reflexiones espirituales, Buenos Aires, USAL, 1992, 19. Now in Francis, “Silenzio e parola”, in Id., Non fatevi rubare la speranza, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 85.

[13].    A. Ivereigh, The Great Reformer. Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, New York, Henry Holt, 2014.

[14].    D. Fares, “Contro lo spirito di ‘accanimento’,” in J. M. Bergoglio-Francesco, Lettere della tribolazione, Milan, Àncora, 2019, 71.

[15].    Cf. J. M. Bergoglio, “Silenzio e parola”, op. cit., 98.

[16].    The key element of his discernment is that triumphalism is a temptation that has the appearance of good. Since it possesses a clarity that imposes itself (at least in the climax of its narrative) we are required not to oppose even more light to it (that is, to counter a triumphalist formula with other ideas) but to take our time. Since its glow is like a flash, and not the mild light of God, we must wait for the dazzling flash to disappear.

[17].    J. M. Bergoglio, “Silenzio e parola”, op. cit., 90.

[18].    Ibid., 91.

[19].    Ibid., 94.

[20].    Ibid., 97.

[21].    “In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him’” (Matt 27:41-42).

[22].    In Dante, for example, original sin and Adam and Eve’s desire to be like God are connected. To appropriate what is not one’s own is hubris.

[23].    J.M. Bergoglio, Speech given in the church of the Society of Jesus in Mendoza, August 23, 1985, in the context of the commemoration of the fourth centenary of the arrival of the Jesuits in those lands. Now in Id., Cambiamo!, op. cit., 267.

[24].     A. Awi Mello, María – Iglesia. Madre del pueblo misionero, Dayton, Marian Library, 2017, 213.

[25].    J. M. Bergoglio, “Silenzio e parola”, op. cit., 100.

[26].     John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, No. 17.

[27].     Francis, Homily on Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019.

[28].    Cf. J. M. Bergoglio, “Servicio de la fe y promoción de la justicia. Algunas reflexiones acerca del decreto IV de la CG 32”, in Stromata, Nos. 1/2, 1988, 7-22. The phrase of Saint Augustine quoted is in De pastoribus, Discourse 46, 13.

[29].    Ibid., 20.

[30].    Ibid., 106.

[31].    Cf. ibid., 106f. Lucifer in the Bible is characterized by the hubris of “rising higher than the Most High” and falling quickly. “The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated… and he was thrown down to the earth” (Rev 12:7-9). The Lord states in Luke’s Gospel, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18). The origin of all sins is pride. The holy Fathers and theologians apply typologically to the sin of the devil the phrase Israel utters in its rebellion against God: “I will not be a slave!” (Jer 2:20).

[32].    Cf. Francis, Homily at Holy Thursday Mass, April 2, 2015.

[33].     Francis, “Silenzio e parola”, op. cit., 99.

[34].    “When we choose the hope of Jesus, little by little we discover that the winning way of life is that of the seed, that of humble love. There is no other way to overcome evil and give hope to the world” (Francis, General Audience, April 12, 2017).

[35].     Francis, “Silenzio e parola”, op. cit., 99.

[36].    Ibid., 100.

[37].    The full text of the manuscript given by Bergoglio to Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Bishop of Havana (Cuba), appeared in Clarín of March 26, 2013 ( To Cardinal Ortega, who had asked him, Bergoglio gave a manuscript text with the four points of his brief address to the cardinals. In the third point he underlined  the expression “spiritual worldliness” and quotes Henri de Lubac.

[38].     Francis, “Freedom scares us”, in Civ. Catt. English Ed. October 2021,

[39].     Id., Address at the moment of reflection for the beginning of the synodal path, October 9, 2021.

[40].    See Id., Press conference during the return flight from Bratislava, September 15, 2021.

[41].     Id. Address at the moment of reflection for the beginning of the synodal journey, op. cit.

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