Christ said to Pope Francis, as to St. Peter: “Confirm thy brethren” in the Faith. And yet, so many unsettling acts and declarations! Here is an overview of some of the scandals of these first three years of his pontificate, and in conclusion, an invitation to humble prayer.
On July 28, 2013, speaking of the Church’s attitude towards morals that go against nature, the pope threw out there: “If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?”
On November 24, 2013, in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.’ The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity. As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God[.]”
On December 20, 2013, Pope Francis described the scene of Mary’s presence at the foot of the Cross in the following terms: “She was silent, but within her heart how many things she said to the Lord: ‘On that day you told me he would be great! You told me he would be given the throne of David his father and that he would reign forever! And now I see him there!’ Our Lady was human! And perhaps she had the urge to say: ‘Lies! I was deceived!’”
On January 20, 2014, the pope declared to an audience partially composed of Muslims: “Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.”
On February 14, 2014, Francis gave his opinion on the traditional Mass: “When I search more thoroughly, I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion.”
On July 27, 2014, the pope gave his ten tips for happiness to the Argentinian weekly Viva: live and let live; be giving of yourself to others; move with kindness and humility; play with your children; Sunday is for family; help young people find jobs; take care of creation; let go of negative things quickly; respect others’ beliefs; work for peace.
On January 24, 2014, the pope received a Spanish “couple” for a private visit; one member of the couple had transformed-his-body-to-give-himself-the-(mistaken)-impression-that-he-henceforth-belonged-to-the-other-half-of-humanity. “He” (actually a “she”) goes by the name of Diego Neria Lejarra and is 48 years old. The other member of the couple is a woman, a real one.
Pope Francis voiced the following desire on April 21, 2015, in a video message: “How I wish that parish communities in prayer would fall to their knees in veneration when a poor man enters the church, as if it were Our Lord entering!”
On November 15, 2015, when a Lutheran expressed the suffering it caused her not to be able to receive communion with her Catholic husband, the Vicar of Jesus Christ told her: “It is not easy for me to answer.” “I make your question my own, and I ask myself.” “I leave that question to the theologians, to those who understand.” “To your question, I can only respond with a question.” And he ended with: “Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to baptism. ‘One faith, one baptism, one Lord.’ This is what Paul tells us, and from there take the consequences. I would never dare to give permission for this, because it’s not my jurisdiction. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.”
On June 16, 2016, speaking on free union, the pope said: “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity.”
On June 26, 2016, on his way back from Armenia, Pope Francis declared in a press conference: “I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer….He protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and explaining why he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err.”
After the Apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the bishops of Buenos Aires sent the priests in their diocese a letter presenting the “basic criteria for the implementation of chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.” In this letter, they claim that Amoris Laetitia allows for the divorced and “remarried” to receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. The pope wrote to thank them for this letter on September 5, 2016, saying: “The document is very good and thoroughly specifies the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. There are no further interpretations.”
On July 27, 2016, the pope spoke to some journalists on his flight to the WYD in Krakow. He told them: “When I speak of war, I speak of real war: there is war for interests, there is war for money, there is war for the resources of nature, there is war for the domination of peoples. Someone may think: ‘He is talking about a war of religion.’ No! All the religions, we want peace.”
On July 31, 2016, the pope answered some questions from journalists after the WYD, explaining to them: “I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy: this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law… and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence. No, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything.”
The pope gave us the answer to this question on the evening of his election when he said to the people of Rome: “Before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.” And to the youth in Rio de Janeiro: “Pray for me, do not forget!” And one day he said: “I sense that if the Lord does not help in this work of assisting the People of God to go forward, it can’t be done… I am truly conscious of my many limitations, with so many problems, and I am a sinner and I have to ask for this….I ask Our Lady, too, to pray to the Lord for me.”