Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Church is weak

The Church is weak, but faith can overcome

Fr General Adolfo Nicolás has told members of the Society that the Church today may be beset by weakness, but the gift of faith continues to provide a beacon of hope.

Fr Nicolás has written a letter to members of the Society around the world in response to ex officio letters received from Jesuits and lay partners around the world outlining the experiences of those working on the ground.

Fr Nicolás says reflections of people in the letters have brought to light what he describes as the ‘interior weakness’ of the Church today.

‘We do not experience today, as we have in the past, a strong, firm and credible Church, but a Church beset by weakness, debilitated by scandals, at times using a language that the majority of God’s people do not understand’, he writes.

‘Our presence as witnesses of faith is fragile. We seem to lack passion, precisely where the problems of humanity are more complex, and we appear to be at a loss in the ability to offer orientation or more lasting solutions.’

Noting the upcoming conclusion of the Year of Faith on 24 November, Fr Nicolás outlines three dimensions of faith that can guide the actions of the society – faith as a gift; faith as an attitude to life; and faith as a mission.

‘In the history of religions there has been a struggle – even a real confrontation – between those who underline human freedom and human action and those who hold that we completely depend on the Gift (Grace) from God to be able to change and grow’, Fr Nicolás writes.

‘Christianity, after all the scholastic discussions were over, has made the creative synthesis with which all Jesuits are familiar. In Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis clearly states that “faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time”.’

Faith, he writes, allows us to live in hopefulness, because we understand that the goodness of God can never be submerged in the sea of evil and sin.

‘This attitude of faith, of hoping against all hope, gives direction to our lives. Thus neither sin, nor adversity, nor a bad Superior, nor failure, nor undeserved ill fame “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).

‘This is why the best examples of living faith come from the poor, the suffering, those made to feel marginal, who “in spite of everything,” live their faith with joy and hope.’

Fr Nicolás again pointed towards Pope Francis’ words in Lumen Fidei in pointing out that God united his history to ours in Christ, and that our mission as Christians is to recall the historical healing of Jesus in a way that can transform the future.

‘As Lumen Fidei reminds us, “this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as a remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope”.’

Image: Fr General at Campion, USA. Image by John Gillooly (via


  1. Very wise words. When we are in deep relationship with Jesus, then we are given the Grace and the passion to follow the way of Christ and live out our faith in the world.

    1. It is all about being open to God's grace.