Pope Francis warns against turning crisis into conflict

Pope Francis this week warned against turning crisis, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, into a conflict that can create discord and enemies.

Speaking before the Roman Curia on Dec. 21, the pope said a crisis “can prove beneficial to us all” if it is used as an opportunity for conversion.

Citing the pandemic, Pope Francis described it as “a time of trial and testing, but also a significant opportunity for conversion and renewed authenticity.”

“This reflection on crisis warns us against judging the Church hastily on the basis of the crises caused by scandals past and present,” he told the Curia, which comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See.

The pope noted that in the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted, there are many people who with their “discreet, unassuming, faithful, honest and professional work,” are a living witness to the fact that the Lord has not abandoned his people.

“The only difference is that problems immediately end up in the newspapers, while signs of hope only make the news much later, if at all,” he said.

“Hence, we must recover the courage and humility to admit that a time of crisis is a time of the Spirit, which should be seen in the light of the Gospel,” said Pope Francis.

“I would urge you not to confuse crisis with conflict,” said the pontiff.

“Crisis generally has a positive outcome, whereas conflict always creates discord and competition, an apparently irreconcilable antagonism that separates others into friends to love and enemies to fight,” he said.

Pope Francis said conflict always tries to find “guilty” parties to scorn and stigmatize, and “righteous” parties to defend, “as a means of inducing an (often magical) sense that certain situations have nothing to do with us.”

He warned against “elitist attitudes and ‘cliques’ that promote narrow and partial mind-sets that weaken the universality of our mission.”

The pope said that when the Church is viewed in terms of conflict — right versus left, progressive versus traditionalist — “she becomes fragmented and polarized, distorting and betraying her true nature.”

Pope Francis said the Church is “a body in continual crisis, precisely because she is alive.”

“She must never become a body in conflict, with winners and losers, for in this way she would spread apprehension, become more rigid and less synodal, and impose a uniformity far removed from the richness and plurality that the Spirit has bestowed on his Church,” he added.

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