Our Pope Seeks Mercy, Not Division
Antonio Tonin, East London – It is with some sadness that I read in JH Goossens’ letter that he finds Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia in contradiction of the Church’s teaching.
First, I would like to correct a small error, in that Pope Francis did not have to interpret Amoris Laetitia; he actually wrote it.
I agree entirely with Archbishop Stephen Brislin that the pope is indeed the Church’s unifying aspect.
Central to the pope’s philosophy is the Christ-like understanding of mercy. It is this that is causing those without meditating on the full meaning of mercy such distress.
As practised by Jesus Christ, mercy is when Christ said to the adulteress, about to be stoned by her accusers, all insisting on the authority of the law: “Rise up and sin no more.” This was preceded by his injunction that he who had no sin was to throw the first stone — and they all walked away.
No Summary Judgement
The pope’s message in everything he says is about mercy and understanding, including his encyclical Laudato Si’. I also remember clearly his stating, when Amoris Laetitia was first published, that he wasn’t changing Church teachings on marriage, but was exhorting all clergy not to summarily judge remarried couples, but rather understand their predicament, and help them to deeply understand what they are doing.
That’s the meaning of mercy. It is still leaving the full responsibility with the couple. They entered the spiritual contract voluntarily with God, and they, in their conscience, with the spiritual help of the clergy, must ask for God’s wisdom and mercy in coming to a decision.
After all, Christ’s commandment to us is very clear: “Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God with thine whole body, mind and spirit, and thy neighbour as thy self.”
When we judge ourselves, we also need to show mercy to ourselves as we need to do to others, imitating that supreme moment when Christ forgave the good thief and said: “This day you shall be with me in heaven.”