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Pope Francis: Church Must Learn to Abandon Old ‘Traditions’

Jesus intentionally omitted telling his disciples many things so that the Church would learn to renounce the desire for clarity and order, the pope told participants in the 21st general assembly of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s global charitable outreach.

When pagans first embraced the Christian faith, the question arose as to if they would have to abide by all the precepts of the Jewish law, something Jesus never spoke of, the pope noted.

By not always giving “clear rules” that would quickly resolve issues, Jesus was protecting the Church from the temptation of “efficientism,” Francis said, which is the desire for the Church to have everything under control, avoiding surprises, with its agenda always in order.

This is not the way the Lord acts, he continued. He does not send answers from heaven. “He sends the Holy Spirit.”

“Jesus does not want the church to be a perfect model, satisfied with its own organization and able to defend its good name,” he said. “Jesus did not live like this, but on a journey, without fearing the upheavals of life.”

Living like Jesus demands the “courage of renunciation,” the pontiff said, a willingness to abandon traditions that are dear to us.

Changing and adapting is not about imposing something new, he said, “but leaving aside something old.”

Those early Christians had to learn to leave behind “important religious traditions and precepts, dear to the chosen people,” he said, by which their very “religious identity” was at stake.

In the end, they did not need a bunch of doctrines and traditions. but the simple announcement that “God is love,” Francis said, and in the face of this great truth, “even convictions and human traditions can and must be abandoned, since they are more of an obstacle than a help.”

“God often purifies, simplifies, and makes us grow by taking away, not by adding, as we might do,” he said.

“True faith cleanses from attachments,” he said. “As a church, we are not called to corporate compromises, but to evangelical enterprise.”

Critics of the pope have often complained that he intentionally sows “ambiguity,” and the pontiff’s words Thursday would seem to suggest that he owns this criticism as a badge of honor because he sees a desire for doctrinal clarity as anti-evangelical.

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