New pope urges Church to return to its Gospel roots

Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:02pm EDT
 
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By Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - In his first public Mass, Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church on Thursday to stick to its Gospel roots and shun modern temptations, warning that it would become just another charitable group if it forgot its true mission.

In a heartfelt, simple homily, the Argentinian pope laid out a clear moral path for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

Addressing cardinals in the frescoed Sistine Chapel the day after his election there, Jorge Bergoglio said the Church should be more focused on the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

"We can walk all we want, we can build many things, but if we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong. We would become a compassionate NGO and not a Church which is the bride of Christ," he said, speaking in Italian without notes.

The first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Bergoglio's initial steps suggested he would bring a new style to the papacy, favoring humility and simplicity over pomp, grandeur and ambition among its top officials.

Whereas his predecessor, Pope Benedict, delivered his first homily in Latin, laying out his broad vision for the Church, Francis adopted the tone of parish priest, focusing on faith.

"When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly," he told the massed ranks of cardinals clad in golden vestments.

"We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord," he added.   Continued...

 
Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, makes a private visit to the 5th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in a photo released by Osservatore Romano in Rome March 14, 2013. Pope Francis, barely 12 hours after his election, quietly left the Vatican early on Thursday to pray for guidance as he looks to usher a Roman Catholic Church mired in intrigue and scandal into a new age of simplicity and humility. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano