Transformation and the Catholic Church

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

In his final address to the college of Cardinals, shortly before exiting the Vatican, the Pope quoted this line from the 20th century theologian Romano Guardini:

The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.

This struck me — this note of the Church being a living reality that can transform. It reminds me of the U.S. Constitution, which maintains an unchangeable core but which has mechanisms for amendment. “Transformation” and “living reality” are words not usually associated with Catholicism, and they are not ones we hear much from Catholic leadership. I would love to know what Benedict had in mind when he said it: is there anything he would like to see transformed right now? Are there things that simmer in his heart that he wants to imply but cannot say explicitly? His public acknowledgment heartens me, even if he didn’t state anything that was new.

His comments resonate with me especially as an educator, because it is here on campus, in dialogue with students, where I see impulses of transformation, possibilities for the renewal and strengthening of the body of Christ.

Full text of the Pope’s address here.


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