Cardinal Bergoglio’s Diagnosis Becomes Pope Francis’s FRAG Order

Joe Six-Pack, USMC here with a little vocabulary lesson, and a heads up on the mission at hand.

FRAG Order is a phrase that rolls off a Marines’ tongue as easily as a civilian saying “how’s the weather?” I have vast swaths of officer-types at Quantico doing the heavy lifting for me so I can easily explain to you what a FRAG order is, and why I think the Pope is issuing one. First, a definition.

Fragmentary or Frag Order.

A fragmentary or “frag” order is “an abbreviated form of an operation order, usually issued on a day-to-day basis, that eliminates the need for restating information contained in a basic operations order. It may be issued in sections.” Frag orders are often necessary due to enemy countermoves. Expect frag orders in most operations. Remember “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Frag orders typically contain the mission (paragraph II) and execution (paragraph III). They also contain any other parts of the order that have changed since you issued the original order. Frag orders are an important technique to keep orders short. In general, Frag orders contain changes to the previously given orders; consequently, the information communicated does not repeat information that remains the same.

Now, I admit I have no idea what “intervention” means in the sense it is used in the link that follows, but it sounds like something a doctor or nurse would say in a field hospital. Sticking with medical terms, Vatican Radio notes that Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, the archbishop of Havana, shared what amounts to a diagnosis made by then Cardinal Bergoglio when addressing his brethren in pre-conclave meetings.

Here are the thoughts attributed to Pope Francis.

1. – Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.

2. – When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. (cf. The deformed woman of the Gospel). The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.

3. – When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light; she ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness (which according to De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church). It lives to give glory only to one another.

Put simply, there are two images of the Church: Church which evangelizes and comes out of herself, the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidente proclamans; and the worldly Church, living within herself, of herself, for herself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms which must be done for the salvation of souls.

4. – Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

I think you’ll understand why I call them a FRAG order now, and not just a diagnosis. And it’s a FRAG Order, because the Original Order still stands,

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As Vatican expert John Thavis notes, Pope Francis, Our Lord’s Prime Minister, is already executing the plan, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Operational tempo hasn’t always been the Church’s strong point in the past. But as I noted a few weeks back, Pope Francis understands how the New Evangelization requires us to sallie forth bringing the Good News to all.

The days of preparation behind fortress walls are over.

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