When Pope Francis adds to his prepared homily text

Pope Francis celebrated the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome this morning, in the presence of a delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with the Lutheran choir from St. Thomas Church in Leipzig (where Bach once served).

As is his style, Francis deviated from the prepared text when he delivered the homily. It is fascinating to see what changes he made, as the comparison below illustrates. Francis’ last-minute changes all go in one direction: toward greater collegiality, more synodality, more emphasis on the Synod of Bishops, and more mention of the People of God. All this puts the primacy of the Bishop of Rome more firmly within a context.

Vatican Radio offers an English translation of Francis’ homily. The original wasn’t in English, you understand, but the English translation is presumably done from the original text prepared ahead of time. This is why I call it the “Original in English” below.

The Vatican website offers the final text of the homily as delivered in Italian.

Here are excerpts comparing the original and the final, with the added parts in red (my rough translation). Francis is offering three (he does everything in threes in his homilies) thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word “confirm.”

ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH: 2. The Bishop of Rome is called himself to live and to confirm his brothers and sisters in this love for Christ and for all others, without distinction, limits or barriers.

ITALIAN DELIVERY: 2. Il Vescovo di Roma è chiamato a vivere e confermare in questo amore verso Cristo e verso tutti senza distinzioni, limiti e barriere.

ADDED: E non solo il Vescovo di Roma: tutti voi, nuovi arcivescovi e vescovi, avete lo stesso compito: lasciarsi consumare per il Vangelo, farsi tutto a tutti. Il compito di non risparmiare, uscire di sé al servizio del santo popolo fedele di Dio.

TRANSLATION OF ADDED: And not only the Bishop of Rome, all of you, new archbishops and bishops, have the same task: to give oneself to be consumed by the Gospel, to be all things to all people. The task is not to be frugal, [but] to go out of oneself at the service of the holy faithful people of God.

ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH: 3. To confirm in unity. … And it [The Second Vatican Council] continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God”

ITALIAN DELIVERY: Confermare nell’unità:

ADDED: il Sinodo dei Vescovi, in armonia con il primato. Dobbiamo andare per questa strada della sinodalità, crescere in armonia con il servizio del primato.

TRANSLATION OF ADDED: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primacy. We must go down this path of synodality, to grow in harmony with the service of primacy.

ITALIAN DELIVERY CONTINUED: E continua, il Concilio: «questo Collegio, in quanto composto da molti, esprime la varietà e universalità del Popolo di Dio»

ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH: 3. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

ITALIAN DELIVERY: 3.Uniti nelle differenze:

ADDED: non c’è un’altra strada cattolica per unirci. Questo è lo spirito cattolico, lo spirito cristiano: unirsi nelle differenze.

TRANSLATION OF ADDED: there is no other Catholic path to unite us. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in difference.

ITALIAN DELIVERY CONTINUED: Questa è la strada di Gesù! Il Pallio, se è segno della comunione con il Vescovo di Roma, con la Chiesa universale,

ADDED: con il Sinodo dei Vescovi,

TRANSLATION OF ADDED: with the Synod of Bishops

ITALIAN DELIVERY CONTINUED: è anche un impegno per ciascuno di voi ad essere strumenti di comunione.

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3 comments

  1. Rocco Palmo’s translation of added parts [in brackets]

    http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2013/06/united-in-our-differences-this-is-way.html

    [And not only the Bishop of Rome: each of you, new archbishops and bishops, have the same task: to let yourselves be consumed by the Gospel, to become all things to everyone. It is your task to hold nothing back, to go outside of yourselves in the service of the faithful and holy people of God.]

    [To confirm in unity: the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the primate. Let us go forward on the path of synodality, and grow in harmony with the service of the primacy.] And [the Council] continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many

    United in our differences: [there is no other Catholic way to be united. This is the Catholic spirit, the Christian spirit: to be united in our differences. T]his is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, [with the Synod of Bishops,] also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.

    And Rocco’s take written after he had heard the homily but did not yet have the Italian final text to add in the parts in brackets. Rocco has emphasized that you really need to see the delivery to get the full meaning of this Pope’s words.

    The off-the-cuff lines were likewise notable in that Francis’ apparent concept of “the Synod of Bishops” was of something far more expansive than the Vatican-chartered advisory body which holds an assembly every three or so years on a set topic, with some 200 of the church’s 5,000-plus hierarchs in attendance. Here, the Pope’s portrayal of “the Synod” was that of the episcopal college, full stop – just as the term entails in each Eastern church. Ergo, the combination of the concept and the spontaneous reference amid today’s feast serve to indicate what could be a significant change to the form of Petrine governance kicking around in Papa Bergoglio’s mind.

  2. It seems to me that Francis’ basic message here is: Nobody is right about everything, and nobody is wrong about everything. Everyone sees something true. As Christians we must accept and affirm whatever truth we find no matter who is proclaiming it. In the synods the Church can find these partial truths and, having found them, eventually unify them.

    (Of course, just *understanding* both sides of disputed questions can sometimes take generations, even centuries. Sigh.)

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