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When Pope Francis says Christ is the Winner…

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Sep 10, 2013

Our little news story on Pope Francis’ homily from Tuesday morning may raise more questions than it answers but, hey, it is not our fault. Remember that the points the Pope wishes to make in these weekday homilies are available to us only through reports by Vatican Radio, with no transcripts. Sadly, the result is hasty, poorly translated, with significant punctuation problems. Nobody, especially the Holy Father, has time to do the editing and reshaping necessary to release daily homilies as public documents.

Nobody but me, that is. At any given moment, I am more than happy to tell you exactly what the Pope means to say. Surely, to paraphrase Humpty Dumpty, when the Pope uses words, they mean exactly what I choose them to mean, neither more nor less. But no, that would make me a Modernist.

Let me try instead to clarify the report without putting words in the Pope’s mouth. In this case, the potential confusion arises from the Pope’s treatment of triumphalism. According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis made two points:

  1. “Triumphalist” Christians are those who “want to make theirs a more majestic resurrection than the real one.”
  2. Triumphalist attitudes are deficient because those who fall into them “do not believe deep down in the Risen One. He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won.”

At first glance, of course, it makes very little sense to say that we must not be triumphalist because we must recognize that Christ is the WINNER. But what if we simply change the emphasis? What if we say, “We must not be a triumphalist because we must recognize that CHRIST is the winner.”

Not me, not us, but CHRIST. I would not dare to speculate on whether the Pope had some particular persons or groups in mind. But this, surely, was the point he made.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Sep. 10, 2013 7:55 PM ET USA

    I think, jg and Jeff, that the answer about to whom his comment is directed is easy -- to every Christian who has ever felt triumphant due to his own merits.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Sep. 10, 2013 4:48 PM ET USA

    This is helpful. I had just finished the short news piece and was about to ask on 'Sound Off', "Am I alone in not understanding what the pope is driving at here?" Your answer, even though still partial, does indeed make sense. With you, I am left fully puzzled about whom this is directed to specifically, but less so about its content. Thanks.

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