The Pope in Lockdown: How Francis is leading humanity through the Corona Wilderness

Dr Austen Ivereigh gave us both an intimate and personal insight into his recent interview with Pope Francis, and practical and helpful guidance for our own spiritual lives and those of our communities at this time. There was a strong sense of continuation at this extraordinary time, that while Francis is showing particularly visible witness and leadership globally at this time, he is continuing a process of guiding us as Christians through processes of conversion and discernment, in a way that Ivereigh suggests is particularly Ignatian.

There was something of a call to action, as Pope Francis has spoken of using this time and this difficulty to pray more, and to act in service of those in need, to prevent the paralysis and the very real temptation to withdraw or despair. This must, characteristically, involve a renewed focus on the poor, to encounter Christ in their flesh, as if perhaps this disease has made it more vital than ever to recognise our inter-connectedness, that when one is broken the body suffers, rather than believe ‘we could be healthy in a world that was sick”.

There was an emphasis on creativity, a word used several times by St Francis, in how we move forward as church, re-imagining ourselves and allowing the Spirit, which both de-institutionalises and institutionalises, to form us. Ivereigh reassured us of the confidence and trust we can have at the time of tribulation, that ‘the grace is phenomenal because the suffering is very great’.

A moving final comment in what was a remarkably hopeful and optimistic evening came from one of the listeners. At 82 she was inspired by the 84 four year old pontiff, and was seeing deepening of faith and prayer life in many of those she had talked to, seeing signs of new life and change and stating that “God does not move backwards”.

You can watch the video of Austen's talk here

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