Vatican Insider at La Stampa has some of the most substantial coverage of Cardinal Bergoglio's more provocative speeches in the past few years. It also has a very frank interview with him from the most recent consistory. All are worth reading. I excerpt some highlights below.
(Update: Many of these quote are taken from his homilies, which can be found at: http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homilias.html.)
This interview is from Feb 24 of this year speaks of the Year of Faith, evangelization, and the temptations of clericalism.
Speaking of the imperative for evangelization:
“We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But is the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”
He goes on to describe the active outreach of his Church in Buenos Aires in a way that suggests that a smaller, purer Church is not his model:
Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it. We organise missions in public squares where many people usually gather: we pray, we celebrate mass, we offer baptism which we administer after a brief preparation.
His description of ecclesiastical vanity is both theologically thick and earthily memorable:
The cardinalate is a service is, it is not an award to be bragged about. Vanity, showing off, is an attitude that reduces spirituality to a worldly thing, which is the worst sin that could be committed in the Church. This is affirmed in the final pages of the book entitled Méditation sur l’Église, by Henri De Lubac. Spiritual worldliness is a form of religious anthropocentrism that has Gnostic elements. Careerism and the search for a promotion come under the category of spiritual worldliness. An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity, is this: look at the peacock; it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth… Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.”
This article from Dec 2011 displays the full range of his commitments:
It recounts his response to the legalization of same sex marriage as an “absolutely illegal” act by the government.
In a mass for victims of trafficking, he condemned human trafficking in a manner both concrete and demanding:
“in our city there are people committing human sacrifice, killing the dignity of these men and these women, these girls and boys that are submitted to this treatment, to slavery. We cannot remain calm.” …. The cardinal urged his fellow citizens to report “breeding grounds for submission, for slavery,” “altars where human sacrifices are offered and which break the will of the people,” asking that “everyone do what they can, but without washing their hands of it, because otherwise we are complicit in this slavery.”
He offered a broad account of the sins of a “discarding culture”
This culture consists of applying the “death penalty” through abortion, and in “hidden euthanasia” of the elderly through neglect and maltreatment.…“there is hidden euthanasia, the social infrastructure pays up to a certain limit, but discards the elderly when, in fact, they are the seat of the wisdom of the people.” Children “are maltreated; they are neither educated nor nourished. Many are forced to prostitute and exploit themselves.”
He went on to challenge a “puritan” focus on sexual morality in preaching.
In a forceful speech last Fall, he condemned the refusal to baptize a child born out of wedlock as “hypocritical clericalism” and “pharisaical Gnosticism” and “sacramental blackmail.”
in this “hijacking” of the sacrament that marks the beginning of Christian life, the Jesuit cardinal sees the expression of a rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism which also uses the sacraments as tools to affirm its own supremacy. For example by rubbing the fragility and wounds of faithful in their faces or by dampening the hopes and expectations of those who supposedly do not fulfill the “requirements” in terms of doctrinal preparation or moral status. Not only are such pastoral models misleading, but according to Bergoglio, this modus operandi distorts and rejects the dynamics of Christ’s incarnation, which is reduced to a mere doctrinal slogan to serve the interests of religious power. “Jesus did not preach his own politics: he accompanied others. The conversions he inspired took place precisely because of his willingness to accompany, which makes us all brothers and children and not members of an NGO or proselytes of some multinational company.”