“Say no to ideologies,” urged Pope Francis on Pentecost Sunday 2021 – making clear that he was speaking not just of secular ideologies such as communism and capitalism but also of the ‘isms’ that divide the church.
“Today, if we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left. When those become our criteria, then the Church has forgotten the Spirit. The Paraclete impels us to unity, to concord, to the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another. Let us look to the whole! The enemy wants diversity to become opposition and so he makes them become ideologies. Say no to ideologies, yes to the whole.”
The pope’s desire to see the ‘sides’ in the church that are so so beloved of media commentators ‘walking together’ in a synodal process was strongly evident in this Pentecostal homily on the Holy Spirit. Stressing the difference between unity and uniformity he made clear also that in seeking unity in the church he is not demanding that everyone be the same in their outlook. Rather is he pleading for all to learn to live with difference – making secondary their own particular projects to reflect on the wholeness of the church.
And so he stressed the importance of reliance upon the Holy Spirit as paraclete or ‘advocate’ and adviser and comforter – and bringer of unity – to the church. At a time of polarisation, especially in the US Catholic church, he was reiterating an appeal of St Paul in 1 Corinthians – to realise that all factionalism in the church is disrespectful to its founder. It is with Jesus that we need to identify – who was, and is, greater than any ‘-ism’.
The Pope finished with a prayer:
“Holy Spirit, Paraclete Spirit, comfort our hearts. Make us missionaries of your comfort, paracletes of your mercy before the world. Our Advocate, sweet counsellor of the soul, make us witnesses of the “today” of God, prophets of unity for the Church and humanity, and apostles grounded in your grace, which creates and renews all things. Amen.”
For the complete papal homily for Pentecost Sunday 2021, click here.