Is it the altitude? Is it free cocktails? Is it the urging of a captive media hungry for headlines? Is it a loquacious and friendly Pope who likes to freewheel and think aloud? I just don’t know. But now we are told that Christians “have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gay people), but we must ask for forgiveness. Not just apologize – forgiveness.”
I have no trouble apologizing for my misdeeds, even if they are corporate in nature, meaning if they are directed towards a group of some kind. As a young man, I had to come to terms, and repent of, the racism I was raised with. I’m very grateful to the University of Texas student who taught me that lesson early in my freshman year. After the initial hurt feelings, my reaction was, “Well, of course he’s right!”
Towards gays and lesbians, I’ve never felt any prejudice. Many of my close friends know this, and there’s no need to say anymore than that. So I am assuming that Pope Francis must not be talking about prejudice of that kind, say, parallel to racism, because to say that all Christians need to apologize casts a much wider net.
My interpretation of the Pope’s remarks is this: Pope Francis thinks that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, it’s “intrinsically disordered,” and homosexual act, they’re always “sinful,” has created in the minds and hearts of Christians a prejudicial disdain toward homosexuals, lesbians, etc. In other words, Christians have not been able to love them authentically because Church teaching, as well as much non-Catholic, has labelled them and their sexuality as unnatural and morally wrong.
I simply don’t agree, and, thankfully, I don’t have to in order to be a faithful Catholic. Why? Because I don’t buy the argument that anyone who believes another person, or group, to be sinful or fundamentally disordered, is unable to love them, care for them, befriend them, feel compassionate towards them. That’s refuted by experience and example over and over.
I think immediately of how Cardinal John O’Connor emptied bedpans in New York City’s AIDS clinics. The creation of the Terrance Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center on Fifth Avenue that was founded as a health care center for AIDS patients. A book could be written, probably in multiple volumes, on other examples of caring for those with whom we have such disagreements about lifestyle and sexual orientation.
Pope Francis did go on to spread the net even further,
“I think that the Church not only should apologize… to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been forced to work.”
Why not apologize for all the evil in the world, or all the evil that has ever been perpetrated by anybody, anywhere? Doesn’t that make apologies meaningless, and the request for forgiveness as well? I know only one person who took on the “sins of the world,” only one man who was capable of doing anything substantial about those sins, namely, offering a way of redemption to every fallen, sinful human being.
There are reasonable ways to talk about our responsibility towards the needs of others, even around the world. Reasonable within a Christian framework, I mean. But to begin by taking responsibility for people you’ve never met, or for feelings you’ve never had, is to affirm that our sins are the products of social structures, rather than personal choices and actions.
If I must apologize to homosexuals, lesbians, the poor, exploited women and children, then that can only be because I belong to a society whose inherent class divisions necessarily do harm to certain classes of people, and create those classes at the same time. This is a Marxist point of view, I am sure the reader recognizes it, but it’s a viewpoint now adopted by “social justice” Catholics.
Pope Francis appears to be saying that we sin necessarily due to the place we find ourselves in a layered society, compounded by the teaching of the Church towards gays and lesbians. Thus we must apologize en masse. This is why I cringe whenever Pope Francis gets on an airplane.
The link and your comments show that you either didn’t read the Pope’s full answer and just took the first reports, by an AP reporter who has edited the Pope’s comments with abandon to serve her agenda after each plane interview or you read them and ignored them choosing to focus on your agenda. The Pope was very clear on his and the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuals. The Pope also was careful to separate the Catholic Church, the organization from what he defined as the church = christian people. He never said the Catholic Church should apologize.
“The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well…this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism. Then there are traditions in some countries, in some cultures that have a different mentality on this problem. I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness – like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) – must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times – when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners! – Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families…”
He repeats what he has said and it is ignored.. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? — has good will to the Pope means intends to try and follow “Catholic Teaching… Who SEEKS God, – had turned to God not away from Him That is the person not to be judged. Certainly you have seen his full original answer where he was talking about a specific Priest accused of things as a teen who was well into adulthood, had repented, gone to confession and promised to sin no more.. and no one has said he has… Jesus forgave him … who are we to judge. Not every one falls in to this category. Certainly the Catechism asks for compassion but rebuking the sinner is a work of mercy. Like when the Pope speaks of Mercy…. he always in prepared speeches or in written statements, includes the action of “turning to God, Repenting, returning to God” as a precursor to Mercy. Admit sin, Repent, return to living as the Church teaches… Homosexual or heterosexual, they are treated the same by the Catholic church when it comes to sex outside of marriage… mortal sin…. with little chance of not knowing enough to cause you to check, as needed for ignorance (see conscience in the Catechism) He was clear in his statement. the pope was not speaking of the Catholic Church…. Columns like this cause casual readers to think the Pope has changed the Catechism. He hasn’t. Is the purpose to drive an agenda and make the church look bad when the truth of what the Pope said comes out? Rather than jumping to write based on the first article that comes out history has shown that when transcripts come out it was a fantasy of the writer, not a statement by the Pope. This has happened too often to be a mistake.
Thanks, John, for the full text that still contains this: “I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness – like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) – must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times – when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners! – Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families…”
You rightly point out that Pope Francis urges us to forgive and accept the sinner, and all sinners. BUT that is not what I addressed in my column, to be forgiving is not the same as asking forgiveness from others as defined by groups. It’s still not clear to me how we all, Christians, are responsible for offenses against gays, or the rest he mentions.
I have been a Catholic through every Pope since my birth and I have yet to know one that has caused more confusion of the catechism, church teaching, and needed more explanation and defense. His often times ambiguous and confusing off the cuff statements serve to divide Catholics at a time when they need their force of unity more than ever. If I might borrow from Alex Lessard, with all due respect and love, “Can we get him on the no fly list”?
It seems to me that Pope Francis is getting worse–more careless, more outrageous, more confusion-causing. Do you suppose he has demetia?
Joe, that would be a matter of speculation, as you know. But it does seem that the offhanded remarks of becoming more and more problematic, especially the one from last week that, and I paraphrase, ‘the Great Commission could be compared to ISIS.’
[Note to webmaster: minor corrections made]
To add to this dialogue: Many people cringed when Jesus spoke and didn’t understand him (the heart of what he was teaching), at least not right away, or give him the benefit of the doubt or trust in him. Many left him as a result. I believe many people who are walking wounded are offended or hurt when they are not treated or pastorally accompanied in a loving and gentle way. As they make their choices, God’s truth may have to be revealed to them over time (not all at once and where someone perceives it is being imposed on them) patiently and slowly, mostly through action more than words (because we are a tool for the Holy Spirit). Their brokenness and woundedness may not have them understand the heart of His teaching until they experience healing and transformation. Then their eyes and hearts and minds will be opened as well as their conscience. Their dying to self will help start the journey of ridding themself of life’s baggage (which we are all called to do) so that the Holy Spirit can fill the void, with their consent. We, who are also walking wounded, with God’s strength, are invited to cooperate and partner with Him (as wounded healers) to heal the brokenhearted, to see what blessed are the poor in spirit really means–that we have our own human limitations and must have total reliance on God. On a similar note, “Jesus heard this and said to them [that], “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:17, also see Matt 9:12 or Lk 5:31-32), which is why the Church “is a hospital for sinners,” which Pope Francis has said. Pope Francis also said, “the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.” Although we are told in Scripture many times and in one form or another to be not afraid, forgive us Lord for being afraid to do what is most uncomfortable, to stretch ourselves and do what we feel is impossible, but is possible through you. Forgive me Lord for doing my will and not yours fully–loving you, God and my neighbor (you place in my path to will the good of the other, including my enemies), with all my mind, and all my heart and all my soul.