Pope Francis recently urged the faithful to understand reality by looking at it “from the periphery” in order to avoid becoming fundamentalists.
Francis meet with 120 superiors general of men’s religious orders at the Vatican in November. His comments were published Friday by La Civiltà Cattolica, a Rome-based Jesuit weekly.
“I am convinced of one thing: the great changes in history were realized when reality was seen not from the center but rather from the periphery,” the pope said.
To look at something from the periphery, the pope explained, meant analyzing reality through a variety of viewpoints, rather than filtering all experience through a centralized ideology.
“It is not a good strategy to be at the center of a sphere,” he said. “To understand we ought to move around, to see reality from various viewpoints. We ought to get used to thinking.”
“I often refer to a letter of Father Pedro Arrupe, who had been General of the Society of Jesus,” the pope continued. “It was a letter directed to the Centros de Investigación y Acción Social (CIAS). In this letter Father Arrupe spoke of poverty and said that some time of real contact with the poor is necessary.”
“This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life – experiences of people. If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy.”
La Civilità Cattolica noted that Francis expressed similar sentiments in his Evangelii guadium regarding globalization.
The world needs to move towards unity without embracing centralism and crushing individualism, he wrote in the document, which was published in November.
“Here our model is not the sphere, which is no greater than its parts, where every point is equidistant from the centre, and there are no differences between them. Instead, it is the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness.”
Francis also encouraged the leaders of men’s religious orders to “wake up the world.” He said the Church should grow through “attraction” rather than proselytization.
“Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world,” he said.