As provincial of the Argentine Jesuits, Pope Francis asked his confreres to allow themselves to be “founded” in the Lord to avoid being “led astray” by other ideas and doctrines that do not build up but rather “undo the solid foundation of a priestly heart: doctrines that do not nourish God’s faithful people. Dante’s reflections here remain relevant today.”
The then-Father Bergoglio next quoted Dante’s Canto XXIX of Paradise (109-114): “Christ did not to his first disciples say, / ‘Go forth, and to the world preach idle tales,’ / But unto them a true foundation gave; And this so loudly sounded from their lips / That, in the warfare to enkindle Faith, / They made of the Evangel shields and lances.”
And he continued: “But seductive and disruptive doctrines, instead of being shields and spears, actually weaken the heart of the holy faithful people of God, so that the sheep, meanwhile, poor witless ones, return / From pasture, fed with wind: and what avails / For their excuse, they do not see their harm?” (J. M. Bergoglio, Nel cuore di ogni padre, Milan, Rizzoli, 2014, 125). Here Dante takes issue with those preachers who fill the faithful with chatter rather than with the Gospel, unlike the way in which Jesus engaged with his disciples.