From Southern Maryland to Northern Virginia, everywhere I went this past weekend people were talking about Pope Francis and his recent groundbreaking remarks about the state of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis, you are a healing breath of fresh air and you arrived on the global scene just when we needed to listen your joyous and merciful outlook on life!!
It was amazing to me that people spontaneously brought it up in conversation no matter what else was previously being talked about. I find religion is sometimes discussed at social events but not very often. And in Washington, DC, rarely do I ever hear Washington Redskins and Pope Francis brought up in almost consecutive sentences but this weekend it happened and I think this it's due to the hopeful and honest nature of what Pope Francis said in an interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine that was published last week in Jesuits magazines around the world.
At a party I attended yesterday, Catholics and non-Catholics enthusiastically discussed the subject of Pope Francis, saying how much they liked him, how exciting he was and how they wished they had some one like him in their particular faiths.
For most people, it was Pope Francis' comment about sinning that kicked the door open and got their attention. In the interview Pope Francis was asked "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?" In a thoughtful manner Pope Francis replies: "I do not know what might be the most fitting description. . . I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner."
Really and truly?
Okay Pope Francis that immediately bonds me to you because I am a sinner too. But people are blown away because this is the first time most people have ever heard a Pope publicly tell others that he sins also. Usually there is the distinct feeling that we are the sinners but the Pope does not commit sin. This time, it is as though Pope Francis opens his arms and says to us, "I am just like you. We are all the same in our humanity."
|America Magazine Issue with Pope Francis Interview|
You can read the full interview with Pope Francis on the website for America Magazine (www.americamagazine.org), a national Catholic weekly magazine published by Jesuits in the United States.
Read for yourself the thoughtful and insightful way that Pope Francis discusses a wide range of subjects that touches all of our lives and issues that we all wrestle with.
For me, my Catholic faith is essential and goes to the core of my being but in the past decade or two I have turned a deaf ear to many things being said by the Catholic hierarchy. That said, here are two other comments Pope Francis made in his interview that were particularly open and refreshing and signal to me a much needed change in the thinking of the Church:
--"I see clearly that 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. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal the wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. . . And you have to start from the from the ground up."
--"The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We must work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman."