The Pope Revealed
September 21, 2013
Pope Francis gave an amazing interview last week. One can sense a person of deep integrity and compassion. It’s amazing that such a real individual of humility could have survived the vetting process for leadership selection.
Typically we think of leaders as people whose abilities for genuine empathy have been constrained and shrunken. After all, we ask leaders to make hard decisions, and the psychological torment caused by empathizing deeply with the thousands of workers you have just laid off, or the thousands of soldiers you have just sent in to dangerous battle, would detract from focus and sap the leader’s energy.
We really don’t want leaders to empathize too much, although they certainly have to pretend to empathize. Hence, the ubiquity of phony leaders.
But Francis has an answer for this. He notes that he became a leader too young—at age 36—and that he made his decisions in an autocratic, insensitive way. He was young enough to learn from that experience that consultation and emotional openness was a better approach, which he intends to maintain.
Francis is clearly a socio-economist:
God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take placein the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships.
This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.
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 his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up. The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules….
Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy…. The confessional is not a torture chamber.
In one of the most important discussions, Francis shows a remarkable faith by being willing to trust the flock. He gives up the notion that a Pope, in descending in a direct line from Jesus, is infallible:
[In] this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.
There’s much more, of interest to non-Catholics as well as Catholics. American Catholic bishops, who have been pushing the culture wars against gays and women, may not be too pleased by the Pope’s interview, which asks them to reign in their venom and develop love, compassion, and an attitude of inclusivity.
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