Catholic World News

In new interview-book, Pope speaks of mercy, explains 'Who am I to judge?'

January 11, 2016

The Name of God is Mercy, a book-length interview with Pope Francis, will be released on January 12.

In the book—a series of conversations with the Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli—the Pontiff identifies himself as “a sinner in need of God’s mercy,” and explains his motivation for calling the Jubilee Year of Mercy. “The Church condemns sin, because it has to tell the truth: this is a sin,” he says. “But at the same time, it embraces the sinner who acknowledges what he is.”

In this connection, Pope Francis explains his famous rhetorical question: “Who am I to judge?” He recalls that he was speaking of homosexuality, and was trying to emphasize the message of the Catechism. In thinking of homosexuals, he said, “the human person comes first, in its entirety and dignity And a person’s sexual tendency is not all which defines them.”

The Pope draws a sharp distinction between a sinner who recognizes his faults and a proud man who refuses to acknowledge his sins. The latter, he says, becomes corrupt:

The corrupt man does not know humility, he does not consider himself in need of help, he leads a double life. We must not accept the state of corruption as if it were just another sin. Even though corruption is often identified with sin, in fact they are two distinct realities, albeit interconnected.

The Pope says that whenever he visits a prison, “I always think, why them and not me? I should be here.”

Reflecting on a moment that was pivotal in his own life, the Pope recalls how he felt the call of the Holy Spirit after making his confession on a particular day: the feast of St. Matthew, September 21, in 1953. At that moment, he says, “I felt welcomed by the mercy of God.” Pope Francis reveals that he wept when he learned of the death of the priest who heard his confession that day.

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  • Posted by: FredC - Jan. 13, 2016 3:46 PM ET USA

    If an openly unrepentant homosexual were to go to Confession with the pope, would the pope give him absolution?

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jan. 12, 2016 4:55 PM ET USA

    My concern always is that in emphasizing God's mercy at the expense of the need for contrition and repentance, people who follow the Church's call will feel like the victim of a "bait and switch."

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jan. 11, 2016 7:59 PM ET USA

    It is often not the Church that defines people by their sexual inclinations but rather persons persons with same-sex inclinations who do this. Glad to see that the Pope linked mercy with the truth because of the danger of what Bonhoeffer calls "cheap grace," which he defines Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship....

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jan. 11, 2016 7:35 PM ET USA

    Thank God that the Pope is finally explaining himself. Now the world can hate him as much as it hates the rest of us Catholics. It does no good to hide your light under a bushel basket. It must instead be placed on top of the hill to shine for all.

  • Posted by: Langton7139 - Jan. 11, 2016 3:42 PM ET USA

    I am still confused.