Archbishop Aguer: Church leaders are failing to preach the Gospel to young people – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — Monsignor Jorge García Cuerva, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, celebrated a Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral at the beginning of the 2024 school year. I read in La Prensa that he asked “young people who are disillusioned not to leave the country, and to do everything possible to build the Argentina they desire.” I noticed the archbishop’s pastoral confusion; he was speaking to high school kids, who are generally not disillusioned and not thinking of leaving the country for now. He also cited catchwords from Pope Francis, according to whom “we must make a mess and live with enthusiasm.” But the central theme was an invitation to dream: “I ask all of us to dream of a better Argentina,” and “Don’t stop dreaming.”

What should the fantasies of the dream be? Because “to dream” properly means to represent in fantasy images or events while we are asleep. Is it possible to dream while awake? The verb is used in a figurative sense to mean – as we read in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) – “to think fantastically, and to take as true and certain what is not so,” and by extension “to yearn persistently for something” and “to have a craving or vehement desire to achieve something.” I suppose this is the sense in which the archbishop uses the word. A dream is a project, desire, or hope likely to be realized, and children and adolescents are potential dreamers. In Archbishop García Cuerva’s homily, the objects of the proposed dream are to be happy, to choose a desired profession or job, and, beyond the strictly personal, a better Argentina. The problem lies in the unreality of dreams, their doubtful possibility. Hope is not a dream, but a possible future that becomes present in waiting.

Words wear out with use; consider, for example, the word “love,” which is abused until it loses its exact meaning, as the late Benedict XVI wisely warned us in his encyclical Deus caritas est. Julio Cortázar, the great writer and author of the novel Hopscotch, delivered a March 1981 speech in Paris that warned about the progressive wear and tear of words:

If there is one thing we writers know, it is that words can become tired and sick, just as men or horses get tired and sick. There are words that, by dint of being repeated and often misused, end up wearing out and gradually losing their vitality. Instead of springing from mouths or writing like what they once did – arrows of communication, birds of thought and sensitivity – we see or hear them fall like opaque stones. We begin to not fully receive their message, or to perceive only one facet of their content. We begin to feel them like worn-out coins, to lose them more and more as living signs, and to use them like pocket handkerchiefs or used shoes.

Cortázar concludes: “We speak because we are, but we are because we speak,” hence the right words, language, and sayings that correspond to the situation.

I have perhaps dwelled too long on this point because I consider it to express the meaninglessness of the archbishop’s preaching. He had before him an enormous number of children, and he should have spoken to them about Jesus. It was the right opportunity to “evangelize” Jesus Christ to them, as St. Paul would say, and to get them excited about following and imitating Him. He could show them the possibility of an integral Christian life and warn them of present dangers that constitute real temptations, such as getting entangled in social media or always walking around with a phone in their hands, where it is possible to see what should not be seen. He could show them prayer as a source of spiritual joy, how to care for their relationships with others, and how to cultivate sincere friendships in an exchange that allows them to grow as persons.

It is therefore not a matter of dreaming, but of being. As the popular saying goes, “dreaming costs nothing.” On the other hand, being a good Christian person costs an application of, and steadfastness in, faith. These subjects can be approached with simplicity and in a language adapted to the understanding of children. Like good catechesis, it makes the kerygma, the proclamation of Christ, resound.

Before concluding this article, I received the Easter greeting of Archbishop García Cuerva, published on the channel of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina. In it the primate archbishop does not mention Jesus Christ even once. Is this the dream?

+ Héctor Aguer
Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata

Buenos Aires, Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Octave of Easter

Previous ArticleNext Article