November 9, 2015

Pope Francis dreams of a poor Church, calling the faithful to poverty.

"That is the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached," said Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver as he spoke of the teachings of Francis. "The Church must be poor in imitation of its founder.

"The poor are present throughout the Gospel, from beginning to end. They have much to teach us because they know the poverty of Christ, his suffering."

Miller was the opening keynote speaker at a recent academic conference examining the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg at 100: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, at St. Paul's College at the University of Manitoba.

"Pope Francis has a warning of danger in times of prosperity," Miller said. "A rich church community just becomes another part of society, lacking the leaven of prophecy. When this happens the poor lose their place in the church."

Miller said when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chose the name Francis he set himself squarely in the footsteps of the saint and his vocation to reform the Church. Miller said Pope Francis hears the same invitation from Jesus heard by St. Francis of Assisi: "Francis, go and repair my Church, it is in ruins."

For Francis, Miller said, "spiritual renewal must precede institutional reform. It is a renewal of the Church by living the Gospel."