Humanism Is Centered on Jesus Christ, Says Pope Francis

Pope Francis blesses an inmate as he meets with prisoners at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis blesses an inmate as he meets with prisoners at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Pope Francis has said in a recent speech that humanism and caring for others should be centered on Jesus Christ.

At a meeting of the Fifth National Convention of the Italian Church in Florence, Francis said humanism should take its starting point from "the centrality of Jesus," in whom people discover "the features of the authentic face of man."

Radio Vatican reported that the pontiff focused on the traits of humility, disinterest, and happiness in his speech, and called on the Church not to be obsessed with power.

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"If the Church does not take up the attitude of Jesus, it is disoriented, and loses its senses," he added.

He warned both against Pelagianism and Gnosticism, describing them as temptations for the Church.

"Pelagianism leads us to have faith in structures, in organizations, in plans that are perfect because they are abstract," Francis said.

He added that Gnosticism is "a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings."

Commentators, such as Peter Weber, senior editor of The Week, have also described Francis as a Christian humanist, referring to the ways that he has challenged both traditional conservative and liberal thought.

"I'm not arguing that Francis is a secular humanist, or capital-h Humanist, by any means. Instead, let's call him a Christian humanist, defining that as one who cares about human beings more than ecclesiastical considerations," Weber wrote in an opinion piece in September.

He reminded readers that the term "Christian humanism" was also used by Pope Benedict XVI, who in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate wrote that the term "enkindles charity and takes its lead from truth, accepting both as a lasting gift from God. Openness to God makes us open toward our brothers and sisters and toward an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity."

Benedict also used the term when talking about how to address global economy, the National Catholic Reporter said in a 2009 article. He argued that financial policies must be rooted in human welfare and spirituality, rather than being driven by "private interests and the logic of power."

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