From the very beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has shown a deep concern for the poor and an identification with their cause.
But this is not just responding to the poor. It is even more than identifying with the poor and going out to meet them. In his message for the 2017 World Day of the poor, Pope Francis has noted that we are required to have “a fundamental option” on their behalf.
But it is even more than that. As he said at his inaugural Mass, “How I would like a poor church for the poor.”
What is a poor church? It is not only a church that identifies with the poor, but it is not attached to power. It recognizes the power of the Cross, not the power of military, political, and economic might.
It is a church that takes seriously this phrase from the Pact of the Catacombs, an agreement made by several bishops during the Second Vatican Council.
In our behavior and social relations, we will avoid everything that could appear to confer privilege, priority, or even preference to the rich and powerful (for example in banquets offered or accepted, in religious services). See Lk 13:12-14, 1 Cor 9:14-19.
It is a church that takes seriously these words of the Orthodox bishop and theologian, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozk – Bishop Anthony Bloom), who died on August 4, 2003:
“It seems to me, and I am personally convinced, that the Church must never speak from a position of strength. [These are shocking words.] It ought not to be one of the forces influencing this or that state. The Church ought to be, if you will, just as powerless as God himself, which does not coerce but which calls and unveils the beauty and the truth of things without imposing them. As soon as the Church begins to exercise power, it loses its most profound characteristic which is divine love [i.e.] the understanding of those it is called to save and not to smash…”