The temptation to triumphalism – Christianity without the cross – and its more insidious form, spiritual worldliness – is difficult to discern. If there is a theme in the magisterium of Bergoglio-Francis that recurs with particular frequency, it is precisely this.
In the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, pronouncing a “no to spiritual worldliness,” Francis put it in black and white. The alternative is between a Church on the move to evangelize the world and a Church invaded by spiritual worldliness: “This is a tremendous corruption, disguised as a good. We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centeredness, and our being cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God” (EG 97).
Back in 1984 Bergoglio had stated: “The triumphalist attitude is not always obvious. Most of the time it appears sub angelo lucis in the choice of our pastoral methods, but it can always be traced back to the invitation to come down from the cross.”