Vatican City: The Vatican released Pope Francis’ Lenten message for this year, a message that highlights the temptation of indifference to those who suffer.
The message was presented at a press conference on Tuesday at the Holy See Press Office. Among those present were Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”; Msgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Under-Secretary of the same dicastery and Dr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.
In his message, the Pope said that the Lenten season is “a time of grace” that calls all Christians to reflect on God’s love which “does not allow Him to be indifferent to what happens to us.” The Holy Father noted, however, that many times those who are suffering from problems and injustices are often forgotten, “something God the Father never does.”
“Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront,” the Pope wrote.
“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
The Pope goes on to offer three reflections, based on biblical texts, that call for an interior renewal in the Church, parishes and communities, as well as individual Christians to combat this indifference in today’s world.
The Phenomenon of Indifference
During the press conference, Msgr. Dal Toso explained that the Lenten message’s focus on indifference is “an important concept to explain the different phenomena of the modern world.” He also explained that this concept is examined in three levels: interpersonal, cultural, and metaphysical.
“At the interpersonal level,” Msgr. Del Toso said, “the play on word between difference and indifference is perhaps more easily understood. On the one hand, the difference is stressed in order to provoke a separation. On the other hand, a lack of attention to the difference between the other and myself conforms the other to my parameters and thus annihilates him.”
Regarding the cultural aspect, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” said that this indifference can be seen in today’s world not only in the lack of awareness of values, but mainly a lack of judgment on values. Choices become interchangeable and any assessment between good and evil becomes useless.
“Since if there is no difference, it’s all the same,” he explained. “It is not permissible for anyone to propose something that is more appropriate or less appropriate to the person’s nature. In my view, the global uniformity, the lowering of the standards of values that comes from the lack of difference is linked to the experience of many of our contemporaries on the lack of meaning.”
Explaining the metaphysical aspect of indifference, Msgr. Del Toso regarded it as “the greatest indifference”, that is, the indifference towards God. The Italian prelate explained that this aspect “causes so much harm to modern man because it leads him to believe that he is God, while he must continually push against his own limitations.”
After reflecting on the Pope’s call for renewal, Msgr. Del Toso highlighted the season of Lent as a time of conversion against this globalized indifference, zenit.org reported.
“The Lenten season is always a time of conversion, change and renewal,” he said. “It is a time to overcome this globalization of indifference and enter into a new phase where we recognize the difference between oneself and the other, between one lifestyle and another, between oneself and God.”