New book explores the Francis manifesto
ON the feast of All Saints in November 2016, during a trip to Sweden, Pope Francis took the step of suggesting six new beatitudes.
These would complement the eight Gospel Beatitudes, so familiar from St Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount.
They capture themes consistent with the Pope's own ministry and, he said, "confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus".
He proposed his contemporary beatitudes as:
- Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.
- Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised, and show them their closeness.
- Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.
- Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
- Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
- Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
They seem to be an exhortation to Christians to embrace lives of holiness, love and sacrifice and to seek 'authentic happiness', rooted in God's love and love of one another.
Francis's beatitudes so captured Dr Aidan Donaldson, a writer, lecturer and social justice activist well known in the Irish Church and beyond, that he was moved to explore them further.
The result is a book, The Beatitudes of Pope Francis - A Manifesto for the Modern Christian.
Pope Francis's contemporary beatitudes, says Dr Donaldson, emphasise "his deep-seated concern for, among others, the disenfranchised, for humanitarians, those who work towards repairing our relationship with the earth and those 'who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him'".
These new beatitudes are not alternatives to the blessings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, but "fresh signposts towards the continued realisation of Christ's call to discipleship in everyday life", he says.
Dr Donaldson is an associate consultant in ethos and Catholic schools for the Diocese of Down and Connor and lectured in philosophy at St Malachy's Junior Seminary, Belfast.
He is former Chaplain at St Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Belfast and works on a range of projects which advocate for the marginalised and dispossessed in both Ireland and Zambia.
- The Beatitudes of Pope Francis - A Manifesto for the Modern Christian by Dr Aidan Donaldson is published by Vertias, www.vertias.ie, £7.35/€7.99.