Pope Francis AGAIN: “Who am I to judge?”

The Pope used again, on 17 March, the phrase “Who am I to judge?” in an informal, off-the-cuff context: his daily fervorino at his private Mass during which he says nothing that forms a part of his Ordinary Magisterium.

At News.va we find an account of the fervorino.  Alas, we never get the whole thing.  The Holy See newsies cut it up and make a hash of it, so our ability to consider context is somewhat hobbled.

Remember that the first time he used this unfortunate turn of phrase in front of journalists in an off-the-cuff way during an informal chat, all hell broke loose.  Hell was loosened, and is still being loosened, as a predictable result because most newsies and 99.9% of the low-information type out there have no notion of what the Pope was talking about.  I explain the situation more HERE.  Francis wasn’t talking about all homosexuals everywhere, which is want the newsies and the 99% want you to think.  The under-informed from politicians to students have claimed the phrase to mean: “Homosexuality is okay!”

That is not what the Pope was saying.

Remember: He referred to our making judgments about people who sin.  That is to say, people commit sin X, and it is a sin.  We, however, must be careful about how we view them, talk about them, etc.  They may have sinned, but they may be trying now to live in a holy way.  We should be ready to be merciful.

Let’s jump to the recent fervorino.  My emphases and comments.

In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday, 17 March, Pope Francis preached on mercy. Commenting on the day’s readings from the Prophet Daniel (9:4-10) and the Gospel of Luke (6:36-38), the Pope explained that “Jesus’ invitation to mercy is intended to draw us into a deeper imitation of God our Father: be merciful, as your Father is merciful”. However, he added that “it is not easy to understand this willingness to show mercy, because we are accustomed to presenting the bill to others: you’ve done this, now you have to do this”. In short, he said, “we judge, and we fail … to leave space for understanding and mercy”.  [NB: Mercy is what we give to people who have done something wrong.]

In order to be merciful, “two attitudes are needed”. The first is “self-knowledge”. The Pope noted that in today’s first reading, Daniel recounts the humble prayer of the people before the God and their acknowledgement that they are sinners: “We have sinned and done wrong, but to thee belongs righteousness, and to us shame”. Reflecting on the passage, the Pope said: “In the presence of a repentant people, God’s justice is transformed into mercy and forgiveness”. [Again: mercy is what the sinner asks.  We are sinners.  We ask God’s mercy.  We are asked to show mercy to sinners.]

This challenges us, he continued, by inviting us “to make room for this same inner attitude”. Therefore, “to become merciful, we must first acknowledge that we have done many things wrong: we are sinners!. We need to know how to say: Lord, I am ashamed of what I have done in life”.  [All people should be ashamed of sins.  Homosexuals are people.  Homosexuals should be ashamed of sins. Homosexual acts are sins.  Homosexuals should be ashamed of homosexual acts.  We should all be merciful toward the sinner, just as we desire mercy from God and others.]

The Pope continued: “even though none of us has ever killed anyone,” nonetheless “we still have committed many daily sins”. [We are all sinners.] Therefore, “acknowledging that we have sinned against the Lord, and being ashamed in his presence is a grace: the grace of knowing that one is a sinner!”. It is easy, he said, and yet “so very difficult” to say: “I am a sinner and I ashamed of it before you and I ask for your forgiveness”.  [This should be the attitude of those who commit sins.]

“Our Father Adam gave us an example of what one should not do,” the Pope added. For he blamed the woman for having eaten the fruit and he justified himself, saying: “I have not sinned; it is she who made me go down this road!”. Eve then does the same thing, blaming the serpent. Yet one should acknowledge one’s sin and one’s need to for God’s forgiveness, the Pope said, and not look for excuses and “load the blame onto others”. Perhaps “someone helped me” to sin, “and opened the road: but I did it!”. [Take responsibility for your sins.]

“If we act in this way,” he explained, “how many good things will follow: we will truly be men!”. [!] Furthermore, “with this attitude of repentance we will be more capable of being merciful, because we will feel God’s mercy for us”. In the Our Father, in fact, we do not only pray: “forgive us our trespasses”. We also pray “forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  [Nothing in here so far about turning a blind eye to sin.  Nothing in here so far about saying that something sinful is really okay.]

The second attitude we need is “an openness to expanding our hearts”. The Pope noted that it is precisely “shame and repentance that expands a small, selfish heart, since they give space to God to forgive us”. [Not only shame about sins but also repentance.] What does it mean to open and expand one’s heart? First, it means acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and not looking to what others have done. And from here, the Pope said, the basic question becomes: “Who am I to judge this? Who am I to gossip about this? Who I am, who have done the same things, or worse?”. [The Holy Father is not suggesting that we turn a blind eye to sin.  He is saying that we should be careful how we treat people who are sinners.  He also is not saying that all people commit all sins.  He is not saying that all sins are equal in gravity.  He made a distinction at the top, for example.  We understand ourselves as sinners and, therefore, we treat other sinners with mercy.  It is NOT mercy to say that a sin is not sinful.]

“The Lord says it in the Gospel: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap”. This is the “generosity of heart” that the Lord presents through “the image of those going to collect grain who enlarged their aprons in order to received more”. In fact, Pope Francis said, “you can receive far more if you have a big heart!”. And he added: “a big heart doesn’t get entangled in other peoples lives, it doesn’t condemn but forgives and forgets” as “God has forgiven and forgotten my sins”. [I suggest to you that the Pope is not saying that sins should have no consequences.  “You did X, but, that’s okay.  All is forgiven.  Sure you can be a kindergarten teacher.”  Obviously the Pope is not saying this about, for example, priests who abuse children.  We can forgive, indeed, must forgive priests who do these horrible things.  But mercy and forgiveness doesn’t require us to be completely stupid.  We don’t forgive the child abuser and then readmit him to ministry in, for example, a parish with a grade school.  That is not what Francis means by “forgive and forget”.  When God forgives our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, our sins are forgiven, but we still have to make reparation for our forgiven sins.]

He then noted that in order to be merciful we need to call upon the Lord’s help, since “it is a grace”. And we also need to “recognize our sins and be ashamed of them” and forgive and forget the offences of others. [They remain, however, “offenses”.] “Men and women who are merciful have big, big hearts: they always excuse others and think more of their own sins. Were someone to say to them: ‘but do you see what so and so did?’, the respond in mercy saying: ‘but I have enough to be concerned over with all I have done’”. [Again, Pope Francis is not saying that the obviously guilty mass murder is simply to be set free with the cheerful phrase, “Hey!  I’m a sinner too.  Kill a bunch of people? forgotten.  Most of us – think about it – most of need to foster a habit of forgiveness.  He is not asking us to become idiots.]

Pope Francis concluded: “If all of us, all peoples, all families, all quarters had this attitude, how much peace there would be in the world, how much peace there would be in our hearts, for mercy brings us peace! [Sure… if all of us were that way.  All.  But there will be some who are unrepentant sinners that create havoc in society.] Let us always remember: who am I to judge? To be ashamed of oneself and to open and expand one’s heart, may the Lord give us this grace!”.  [Again… “Who am I to judge?” is not permission for people to do anything they want.  It is not approbation of sinful behavior.  The Pope is applying an attitude of mercy to SIN.]

So, here we go again.

And remember: None of this was part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium.  This was an informal, off-the-cuff fervorino at his private Mass.



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  1. cpttom says:

    *sigh* As Daffy Duck would say just as Bugs pulls another one over him, “Not again!”

    Father Z, as always I appreciate your comments in red and brackets. I just wish the rest of the Catholic world had gotten the same clarification of comments, from the ruling Pontiff. I love the Holy Father, but this is, again another moment where he has handed the enemies of the Church and the misguided progressive (c)atholics another bludgeon. Words escape me.

    I think I am in need of an adult beverage or a Tums. Better yet a prayer to Blessed Fulton Sheen that the Holy Father refrains from off the cuff comments. *sigh*

  2. CrimsonCatholic says:

    [insert spittle-flecked nutty]

    This isn’t going to be good.

  3. Wade says:

    cpttom, in this case, the Holy Father is speaking in the context of his homily after reading the Gospel of Luke where Christ says “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged.” At some point he has to preach the Gospel.

  4. Mandy P. says:

    I understand what the Holy Father is saying. And I usually do understand what he’s getting at when I read the full context (or in this case as much context as we can get) of his statements. I just really wish he could be a bit more clear and phrase things in a way that are less likely to be misconstrued in the manner that something like, “Who am I to judge?” has been. I realize that people who are looking to affirm themselves in their sin are going to find a way to do it regardless. I just wish their ammo wasn’t coming from the mouth of the Sucessor of Peter.

  5. kpoterack says:

    My guess is that this will not be on the secular media’s radar. He didn’t say this in connection with homosexuality, or any other sexual sin – therefore it is not newsworthy to the MSM. He said it in connection with the gospel passage, as Wade pointed out, and the only specific sin he connected it to was gossip.

  6. Unwilling says:

    Remember Benedict at Regensburg? That attack on his words was completely made up, and the reactions driven top down. But Pope Benedict did not sit on his high horse in disdain. He immediately said that he “sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim”.

    Rather than all this dancing around “Who am I to judge?” and retrospective hermeneutics, why does Francis not just come out and admit his error {Greek: hamartia}:

    “Look. I was speaking to some reporters last year and accidentally used some words “Who am I to judge?” in an inappropriate context. The reaction soon reminded me that those words have an established skeptical meaning [see citations below] which is the opposite of Faith. I did not intend that meaning. I take it back. It was a mistake to use that particular phrase. Please forgive me for any confusion my insufficiently careful speech may have caused. Christ does call us to compassion and forgiveness; but he also calls us to purity and holiness.”

    If he would just say “Oops!” he would regain all the respect he lost in that moment and continues to lose in such subterfuges as this contrived cover-up speech.

    Hats off to you Father Z for your loyal efforts. But, to me, all this looks like embarrassing stubbornness.

    Someone will say, “Who am I to judge?” … Therefore I cannot judge or evaluate whether or not a plan of action or any behavior is right or wrong. [Tom Shepherd, Adventist Theol. 1999]
    Hey, maybe she’s into that sort of thing. Who am I to judge? [Tales of Graces, video game, 2009]

    We then use the “who am I to judge” language so that we can rationalize our own sins. We move from “who am I to judge?” to “who are you to judge?” This attitude will not help us and others grow into the image of Jesus. [Soulgardeners 2009]

    Don’t judge has become America’s favorite Bible verse. It’s short, memorable, and gets the job done. … “Middle class Americans have an almost pathological fear of appearing judgmental, so they have added an 11th commandment. Thou shall not judge. [Wolfe]” [James, Sermons 2013 June 23 {Pope’s slip weeks later on July 28}]

  7. cpttom says:


    Come on. Of course he has to preach the gospel. But there are phrases, particularly this phrase, that are trouble in or out of context. It was sloppy for the Pope to use this phrase, particularly after the dust up over the interview on the plane. It is also sloppy in context regarding the gospel, because Christ certainly didn’t say “Who am I to judge?”

    This phrase has and is used by so many dissidents either to justify their otherwise sinful actions OR by those who are in leadership to ignore the sinful actions, rather that addressing them and expecting the sinner to own them and to repent (eg. “Woman, go, and sin no more”).

    Considering he is the Pope, and not just some parish priest that the world doesn’t follow every word, may be Pope Francis should refrain from making off the cuff remarks or at least homilies for a time, or a least think through what he is going to say before he says it, so that there is much needed clarity.

  8. McCall1981 says:

    Exactly right, I haven’t seen this pop up anywhere in the news. I don’t think the MSM, or the secular world, is going to care.

  9. Bosco says:

    I think your own particular elaboration and insights are very lucid and worthy of serious consideration, Father Z. Well done.
    Notwithstanding, rather than instances of child abusing priests that you offer as your example, Father, the first thing that popped into my mind is that there is some sort of papal tapestry being woven here for the proper attitude towards and future treatment of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    Here we go, again.

    Alright, let’s do our homework.

    First of all, what is mercy?

    The passage in question, Luke 6:36 – 37, has to be read in parallel with other uses of mercy in the Gospels. There are two principle Greek words that are translated as mercy in the Gospels: ele?m?n, from the root, eleeos, and oiktirm?n, from oiktir?, which, at its root, means to have pity. Oiktirm?n is used only occasionally, and in Classical Greek it is considered a poetical version of oiktirm?n. Eleeos is, by far, the more common term. It is the form used in the Matthew version of the Beatitudes. Why did Luke choose the poetical version? Probably, because Jesus was speaking analogically about God’s mercy, as it relates to man. We are not God and our forgiveness is like God’s forgiveness only by analogy. The online Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say:

    “God is not absolutely unknowable, and yet it is true that we cannot define Him adequately. But we can conceive and name Him in an “analogical way”. The perfections manifested by creatures are in God, not merely nominally (equivoce) but really and positively, since He is their source. Yet, they are not in Him as they are in the creature, with a mere difference of degree, nor even with a mere specific or generic difference (univoce), for there is no common concept including the finite and the Infinite. They are really in Him in a supereminent manner (eminenter) which is wholly incommensurable with their mode of being in creatures. (Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiæ I.13.5-6; C. Gent., lib. I, c. xxii-xxxv; in I Sent. Dist., xiii, Q. i, a. 1, ad 4am.) We can conceive and express these perfections only by an analogy; not by an analogy of proportion, for this analogy rests on a participation in a common concept, and, as already said, there is no element common to the finite and the Infinite; but by an analogy of proportionality. These perfections are really in God, and they are in Him in the same relation to His infinite essence that they are in creatures in relation to their finite nature. (Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theol I.4.3; I.13.5; Q. ii, De verit., a. 11, in corp. ad 2am; ibid., xxiii, a. 7, ad 9supam.)”

    A complete discussion of St. Thomas’s theology pf the analogical relationship between God and man can be found in the Summa Theologica I.Q13.art 6

    What is mercy as it is commonly understood in the gospel? Well they are related to the 13 attributes of God’s mercy found in the Hebrew understanding of the term from Exodus 36:6 – 7:

    “6 The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    The word in Hebrew for mercy in this passage is, checed, which means having pity on those in misfortune. Interestingly, the term can be used in a negative sense to mean zeal or ardor against someone in reproach – sometimes God’s mercy does not always look kindly, at the time.

    Basically, mercy is giving something to someone that they could not or would not, ordinarily, be able to obtain for themselves. The dead cannot pray for themselves, so when we pray for them, it is an act of mercy. If I can get my own glass of water, it is no mercy to have a crippled man hobble over to get it. When we forgive ourselves, this is an act we would not, normally do, otherwise there would be no need.

    When God forgives us our sins, he produces an ontological change in the state of our relationship to that sin. He and He, alone, can do that, thus, every time God forgives in the confessional, through the priest, He is giving us something we, absolutely, cannot obtain on our own. We cannot sacrifice to obtain mercy. Mercy is a free, gratuitous act which we cannot accomplish by ourselves. This is why Jesus would say, “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifices.” Sacrifices do not give us mercy as if one is putting a sacrifice coin in a mercy dispensing machine. Mercy is a free act from one person to another.

    When Jesus says to, “be merciful AS your Heavenly Father is merciful,” He is making a simile, since God and man can only be related by an analogical statement. God’s mercy is not the same as our mercy, but it is like it in certain attributes. Those common attributes are enough so that when we forgive others, we mimic God to our limited and finite extent. Our forgiveness does not involve an ontological change, merely a relational one – we allow our relationship to the other person to be changed to what it was before the offense. God does that, as well, but when he forgives our sins, he does so for eternity. We can only act in time.

    When we are merciful, we give to someone something they could not obtain by themselves: the restoration of our relationship with them. That does not, necessarily, extend to the level of interaction, since one can forgive someone who will not accept the forgiveness and may, in fact, be intent on harming you, more. Thus, one may forgive someone who tried to murder you, but not, necessarily, want to be in the same room with them if they have not changed their stance towards you.

    Mercy is like an electrical circuit joined by two wires. We extend one wire – our mercy – but in order for the circuit to be complete, the other wire – the acceptance by the other (including their recognition that they need the mercy) – has to be joined to it. God is always holding out the wire of forgiveness, but we must join our wire of repentance to it in order for the circuit to be complete. God cannot forgive someone who will not seek His forgiveness, even though it is always present to be accepted, if we but connect the circuit.

    So, when we are called to be merciful towards everyone, as God is merciful towards us, we are called to extend the act of mercy to another, without the assurance that they will, actually, take it. God does not demand that we forcibly try to complete the circuit with another person, but, rather, that we do not withhold our part of it. It also means that we hold our relationships with others as if they were always being repaired, as if the relationship has the quality of instant healing of any cut or breach, at least from our part. If it take the interaction of two compound to heal any wound, God requires that we supply the first compound, not knowing if the other person will supply the other. Our mercy always has tender heart towards the other, no matter what. it demands that relationships are never allowed to be destroyed, at least from our end.

    Mercy is a beatitude because the word, markarios, which is often translated as, blessed, really has semitic roots related to the idea of honor. A better translation might be, “How honorable are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Honor is a tribal concept involving being in good standing, good relationship within a tribe. That brings us to the connection to judging.

    Jesus says, in Luke 36:7 – 8

    “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

    The circuit that we mentioned, above, is a circle. When complete, the top flows to the bottom and back to the top. What goes around, comes around. The word, judge, however, is often misunderstood in this context, however. The word is, krin?, the the Greek and it has a variety of meanings. Strong’s Lexicon lists several:

    1. to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
    2. to approve, esteem, to prefer
    3. to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
    4. to determine, resolve, decree
    5. to judge
    a. to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
    b. to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it
    c. to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
    1. of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others
    6. to rule, govern
    a. to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
    b. to contend together, of warriors and combatants
    c. to dispute
    d. in a forensic sense
    1. to go to law, have suit at law

    The first two sense have to do with tribal identity. To judge means to assert that someone is of your tribe. That is one relationship to mercy in the preceding paragraph in Luke. Mercy is an act of honor within the tribe and judging either breaks or affirms on relationship with the tribe. In mercy, we are called, in the place of highest honor, to regard all as members of the tribe – as long as they choose to be (i.e., accept the mercy offered). So, there are two sense of, “judge,” used in the tribal sense and Jesus is excluding the sense which offers no mercy.

    Senses 3, 4, and 5a in the list all concern making practical or prudential decisions about the goodness or badness of what is right and what is wrong in an action. It is often, erroneously, said, from the pulpit that we are not permitted to judge person, only actions, but that is not, strictly speaking true. We are not permitted to judge persons in the sense of 5b or 5c, unless that responsibility has been delegated to us as an act of authority, which comes from God, but we are not even permitted to judge actions UNLESS we judge them according to the standards for judgement of those actions set apart by God. In that case, we are not even judges, merely God’s proxy. We have no authority to judge the actions of another, only God can, but He has left us a Testament, in the Scriptures and in the Church, of how we are to do so in his stead when He is not, physically present. Thus, if one judges that homosexual acts are okay, then one has failed to act as God’s proxy and has, in fact committed an implicit for of blasphemy, saying something that God would not say, approving of something that God would not approve of, if He were physically present.

    Thus, it is okay to judge actions, if you judge them as God would judge them. Otherwise, you risk being judged, yourself. If you judge as God judges, He will still judge you, but, since He has already approved of His own judgments and you are merely repeating them as He would, He judges you as He would judge Himself – as being correct, of course.

    So, when Jesus says, “Judge not,” he means, “do not judge from human perspectives.” You judge from human perspectives exactly when you are not authorized to judge – either by being the proper person to judge another’s actions for the purposes of assigning consequences (i.e., being a duly authorized judge selected by the people) or because you see as men and not as God sees.

    So, YOU, of yourself, may not judge, because the circuit you complete will be a self-referencing circuit that excludes God. You, in concert with God, must judge, but only in the way and manner that He would. This means always keeping open the circuit of mercy, that it might be closed by the other person.

    In the Star Trek episode, The Conscience of the King, Kirk tries to obtain the justice of a mass murderer. The murderer’s daughter and Kirk have the following exchange:

    “LENORE: Captain Kirk.
    (She enters from the next room)
    LENORE: (to Karidian) You’d better rest now. There’s a stain of cruelty on your shining armour, Captain. You could have spared him, and me. You talked of using tools. I was a tool, wasn’t l? A tool to use against my father.
    KIRK: In the beginning perhaps. But later, I wanted it to be more than that.
    LENORE: Later. Everything’s always later. Later. Latest. Too late. Too late, Captain. You are like your ship, powerful, and not human. There is no mercy in you.
    KIRK: If he is Kodos, then I’ve shown him more mercy than he deserves. And if he isn’t, then we’ll let you off at Benecia, and no harm done.
    LENORE: Captain Kirk. Who are you to say what harm was done?
    KIRK: Who do I have to be”

    That is Exactly the question that Jesus asks. The question is no, “Who am I to judge,” but, rather, “Who do I have to be?”

    Aye, that’s the question.

    The Chicken

  11. The Masked Chicken says:

    Should read:

    “So, when Jesus says, “Judge not,” he means, “do not judge from human perspectives.” You judge from human perspectives exactly when you are not authorized to judge – either by not being the proper person to judge another’s actions for the purposes of assigning consequences (i.e., being a duly authorized judge selected by the people) or because you see as men and not as God sees.”

    Sorry for all of the typos in the long comment. I hoped that Typepad had the unicode support for Greek transliterated characters. Apparently, not.

    The Chicken

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    One would think, judging from the kuhbillion times it seems like I have heard some variation on the judging theme, that this is the worst sin known to mankind. All the other lousy sins are second to this one. Back in the day, people had more interest, ability, and access to authentic teaching, but they don’t anymore. It has become even more important to for Bishops and priests, most certainly our Holy Father, to be direct, concise, and, heaven help us, frank. But let’s face it, what some of us are waiting to hear, is likely not coming.
    Fr. Z., thank you for your helpful and encouraging words. It is kind and generous of you to take your time to share your wisdom and insight on so many occasions. You are a prince.

  13. Magpie says:

    ”Who am I to judge?’ has been banned as a food additive in the EU and Canada.

  14. markomalley says:

    The trouble is that this shouldn’t be a controversial teaching. It’s straight from Matthew 7:

    1Judge not, that ye may not be judged; 2for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. 3But why lookest thou on the mote that is in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam that is in thine eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Allow [me], I will cast out the mote from thine eye; and behold, the beam is in thine eye? 5Hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the mote out of the eye of thy brother.

    It is directly related to the Novus Ordo Gospel reading for the 17th, so it is a very valid subject.

    Only the historical twisting of Francis’ words makes this extensive fisking necessary. While I wish you didn’t have to waste your time or bandwidth to do so, Father, I appreciate you doing so.

  15. One of those TNCs says:

    Gee. After reading the quotes, my take-away was that the Holy Father was exhorting us not to gossip.

    See this, for example:
    “Men and women who are merciful have big, big hearts: they always excuse others and think more of their own sins. Were someone to say to them: ‘but do you see what so and so did?’, the respond in mercy saying: ‘but I have enough to be concerned over with all I have done’”.

  16. Stephen D says:

    The main point is being missed here. This is the softening up for the admission of divorced and remarried to the Sacraments. This phrase can be used to disarm many of the objectors and to reduce dissent and even discussion and is almost unlimited in its application for other sins. It can and will be used for this purpose.

  17. Magpie says:

    The funny thing is this: I have a close relative who is divorced and did not obtain an annulment. THis person will likely civilly ‘marry’ their new beau. I’ll be invited. Under Benedict XVI, I’d likely have the courage to give witness and decline to attend, but under the new dispensation, for the ‘peace’ of the family, I’ll likely attend, though I will make known to my relative my thoughts. Maybe//probably I am wrong here, but with Pope Francis, I think/feel the flavour of the moment is ‘Who am I to judge?’ so I will likely attend this civil wedding ceremony of a divorced and re-married person.

  18. Deacon Bill says:

    Clarification is always helpful, of course! And it would be a terrible mistake to attach an undue level of magisterial authority to these statements. However, it would be just as incorrect to minimize what these statements are as well.

    These are, in fact, proper homilies — not simply “fervorinos”. As homilies they are due the respect demanded by Catholic theology and Tradition to the role of the homily within the Mass. A fervorino is a pep talk by a coach, perhaps, before a game; not the studied reflection of an ordained cleric of the Catholic Church.

    Also, I wonder about characterizing these homilies as taking place “during the Pope’s private Mass” at Santa Marta. First, no Mass is sacramentally “private.” Second, historically, a “private Mass” was usually celebrated by a priest alone, or perhaps a priest and a server. On the contrary, these are public celebrations of the Eucharist, usually with concelebrants and a good number of the faithful participating. While it may not be the grand celebrations held inside the Basilica or in the Piazza, these are NOT “private” Masses.

    Don’t misunderstand me: as I said at the start, I am NOT ascribing magisterial status to these homilies of the pope. Nonetheless, I think it just as wrong to undervalue them as well.

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  19. Unwilling says:

    Deacon Bill, You raise a good point but push it a little too hard. The sports usage is by extension.
    fervorino [fer-vo-rì-no] Dim. di “fervóre”
    :> Nel culto cattolico, breve discorso che il sacerdote rivolgeva ai fedeli, in particolari occasioni, per risvegliare in essi il fervore della devozione
    :> estens., scherz. Discorsetto di incitamento a far bene e con zelo qualcosa: gli farò un f. per richiamarlo al dovere

    In a Catholic context, a fervorino, is a short speech the priest makes to the faithful, on a given occasion, to stir up their devotional fervour.

  20. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Yes, of course ad hominem gossip and accusation of one’s neighbour is wrong.
    But surely it is the duty of the Church’s magisterium, for the salvation of souls, to say loudly and clearly what is sinful and why, ‘so that sinners may return to You’ through the Sacrament of Confession, for which of course the sinner’s repentant acknowledgment of sin and firm purpose of amendment is essential.
    Consciences need guiding and educating, otherwise moral doctrine is privatized, relativised and dumbed down. ‘Mercy’ would become a mute, uncaring indifference, and lose its meaning.

  21. kpoterack says:

    I get your point Vecchio di Londra. It is very important and I think many of us are concerned. Unless Card. Meisner misunderstood or Pope Francis was lying, this should be a helpful balance:

    “At my last meeting with Pope Francis, I had the opportunity to talk very open to him about a lot of things. . . he talked about mercy, which, according to my view, is seen in this country only as a surrogate for all human faults. And the pope responded quite bluntly that he’s a son of the church, and he doesn’t proclaim anything else than the teachings of the church. And mercy has to be identical with truth – if not, she doesn’t deserve that name. ”

    I just wish that he would say these things in public more often.

  22. Absit invidia says:

    While I appreciate the Popes intent, the effect is falling flat. It smacks more like pandering and flattery for the itching ears of the hardcore left wing media and liberal Catholics. Instead, the one liners that the world needs to hear are the ones that came from the patron saint of parish priests, St. John Marie Vianney:

    “Our greatest cross is our fear of crosses.”

    “You either belong wholly to the world, or wholly to God.”

    Those are the kind of one liners our leadership needs to be delivering. Our souls would be invigorated by them, instead of wincing at them, and they would set the world aflame for real reform and conversion, instead of set the world agossiping, misinterpreting, exploiting, and aiding the secularists to maneuver for a chance to advance their progressive agenda even further.

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  24. Sonshine135 says:

    How much more effective would the Holy Father’s words have been if he finished it up by saying something like: “acknowledgement of our own sins is paramount. It is important in this day and age to convict ourselves before God. Take this opportunity to place yourself before God’s mercy. Harden not your heart, and GO TO CONFESSION.”? This sin that is most prevelent right now in this world is a total lack of responsibility and accountability. Most if not all of the major sin committed in this world stems from freedom without the expectation of consequence. Mercy and accountability are coequals. The only time Jesus forgave without accountability was when he forgave those who placed Him on the cross, and this was only because many of them had no concept of what they had actually done (nailed the innocent Son of God to the cross).

    I have no control over what the Pope says during interviews, but the “who am I to judge” statement would have been better left alone. Its unfortunate misinterpretation has been used by lawmakers in the United States to justify laws on redefining marriage. I am sad to see it has been recycled. I can hear the words coming out of people’s mouths now, “You are judging!….You are judging!”

  25. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Holy Father still assumes, deep in his heart, that all Catholics, Christians, and atheists from Western countries know right from wrong, even if they choose to sin anyway. Probably this is true in Argentina.

    Unfortunately, the Holy Father radically overestimates current moral education levels in the rest of the world. I respect him for not “dumbing down” his instruction, but it’s pretty obvious that he needs to assume he’s starting from nada.

  26. norancor says:

    That’s a lot of red, Father. I think we should make the “Fr. Z Red-o-meter.” The more red we see from you, the more problematic the topic is.

    As for this being the trial balloons to walk down the path of the remarried adulterer being admitted to Communion, we have a logical and moral impossibility. Admitting a class of unrepentant sinners to Communion destroys the Church.

    1. It sanctions sacrilege. As horrible as individual acts of sacrilege are, this would openly sanction it.
    2. It says to all grave sinners that they are subject to a double standard. If you are an adulterer in a second marriage, your sin is seen with “mercy.” Otherwise, are are subject to the Confessional as has always been. What will the next sin to fall by the wayside in needing forgiveness?
    3. Scripture is debased, since the Church has said what is in Scripture no longer applies in the way it always has. This makes all moral laws put forth in Scripture, and its inerrancy, questionable.
    4. God’s will is rejected, or He is made a liar, since the prohibition of Christ is now made non-binding, and the Truth He proclaimed is now no longer true for those in adultery.
    5. The annulment largely becomes irrelevant.
    6. Confession is gravely wounded, as are the Keys and the power to bind and loose. Peter has now said a class of sin is loosed without repentance.
    7. Firm purpose of amendment is no longer required. Rectifying the wrong is no longer necessary, nor refraining from the sin.
    8. If there is a class of sin that doesn’t need to be held to account, you have to question the efficacy of Orders itself, if those in Orders now have a circumstance where they don’t have to defend the Sacred Species and reconciliation of souls in the Confessional.

    Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, is utterly correct on this. It is a metaphysical, moral, and canonical impossibility that will destroy the substance of the Church.

    It can also be safely said that “pastoralism” should be viewed as a kind of new version of an old heresy, since it is a sort of latter day Manicheanism or Catharism, where we can remain intellectually pure (remaining a ‘Catholic in good standing’) while committing sin in the flesh (adultery, politicians and canon 915, the SSA problem in the clergy, etc).

    We see this in the argument make by some in the Church. They posit that, for the sake of pastoral mercy, one can objectively believe in a spiritual purity (Christ’s command that there is no divorce and remarriage) but in practice allow it on account of mercy (adultery and receiving Communion in a state of objective, unrepentant sin).

    This era of the Church is rife with “pastoralism” reaching back into the Council itself, where it was proclaimed by consecutive popes that we were having a non-dogmatic, pastoral council, but we now, 50 years hence, are obliged to uphold the Council as an infallible act of the Ordinary Magisterium. This is pastoralism in practice. Let us objectively change things in practice, but declare we aren’t really changing teaching or practice in doing that, because things are done for “pastoral considerations.”

    It feels, intellectually, similar to Karl Rahner, SJ’s concept of Fundamental Option. I, a divorced and remarried Catholic, maintain my fundamental option for Christ and marriage, even though I violate His commandment in my personal actions (an adulterous life).

    Perhaps we should see the attitude towards divorced and remarried Catholics as a practical application of this “pastoralism” duality, like Manicheanism or the Fundamental Option.

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