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Those who pretend to reform the Church with the same means used to…

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“Those who pretend to reform the Church with the same means used to reform temporal society – not only will they fail in their undertaking but they will infallibly end by finding themselves outside the Church…it is they who exclude themselves from her by a kind of tragic fatalism. The only way to reform the Church is to suffer for her. The only way to reform the visible Church is to suffer for the visible Church. The only way to reform the vices of the Church is to lavish on her the example of one’s own heroic virtues.

“It is quite possible that Saint Francis of Assisi was not any less thrown into revolt than Luther by the debauchery and simony of prelates. We can even be sure that his suffering on this account was even fiercer, because his nature was very different from that of the monk of Wittenberg. But Francis did not challenge iniquity; he was not tempted to confront it; instead, he threw himself into poverty, immersing himself in it as deeply as possible along with his followers. He found in poverty the very source and wellspring of all absolution and all purity. Instead of attempting to snatch from the Church all her ill-gotten goods, he overwhelmed her with invisible treasures, and under the hand of this beggar the heaps of gold and lust began blossoming like an April hedge.

“Ah, yes, I am aware that in these matters comparisons are not worth much, especially when seasoned with a little humour. Would you still allow me to say, however, in order to be better understood by some, that what the Church needs is not critics but artists? When poetry is in full crisis, the important thing is not to point the finger at bad poets, but for oneself to write beautiful poems, thus unstopping the sacred springs.”

– Georges Bernanos +1948

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