Archbishop Gomez on the Pope’s interview

Archbishop Gomez concelebrates Mass with the Pope in April

Archbishop Gomez concelebrates Mass with the Pope in April

The following comes from a column by Archbishop Gomez published in the Los Angeles archdiocese newspaper, the Tidings, on Sept. 27.

Everybody is talking about the Pope this week. All over the world, the interview he gave to some Jesuit journalists has been the constant subject of headlines, talk shows, editorials and conversation.
But in our media culture, we have to watch out that we’re not relying too much on secular sources for our news about the Pope and the Church. That’s why the Catholic media is so vital in our day.

Unfortunately, most mainstream reporting on Pope Francis has not been really accurate. The reporters — and the people they turn to for “expert” analysis — are good people. But they don’t always seem to be trying to understand the Pope. Instead they seem to be trying to present him in their own image, reflecting their own desires and hopes for the Church.

The reporting on the Pope’s latest interview was predictable. The interview takes up almost 20 pages in a magazine. But the media reporting focused only on the four paragraphs where the Holy Father talked about abortion, birth control and homosexuality.

That’s too bad. I urge you to read this interview for yourselves (see It’s a window into our Holy Father’s soul and his vision for the Church.

The world looks different from inside the confessional. And when I read this interview, I hear the attitude of a man who has spent a lot of time in the confessional — on both sides of the box.

The Pope starts with a simple confession: “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon. … I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By having mercy and by choosing him], was very true for me.”

Pope Francis knows that our faith journey begins in the encounter with God’s mercy — when the Lord looks upon us in mercy and calls us to follow him.

It’s striking how much the Pope talks about confession in this interview — and also the priest’s ministry. That’s because this is the great need for the people of our time — a new encounter with God’s mercy.

God’s mercy doesn’t replace God’s justice. God’s mercy doesn’t blur the lines between right and wrong or good and evil. The mercy we find in the confessional brings all the darkness, all the shadows in our lives, into the light of God’s saving love.

As Pope Francis knows, the priest is above all the minister of God’s mercy.

The priest understands, in ways no one else can, that every human life we meet is a mystery. That every human life is complicated. Relationships can become tangled, desires can be disordered. Every case is different and so is the advice for the one who seeks God and his grace. The confessional is not a place of condemnation. It is the mercy seat.

“The confessional is … the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better,” the Pope says.

Our Holy Father’s vision for the human person is beautiful and open to hope.

He says: “I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. … Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else. … Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

Clearly, our Holy Father is concerned about a tendency toward “rigorism” that would reduce the greatness of the Gospel to a collection of “rules.” The Church, he believes, should be “the home of all … not only a small group of selected people … a nest protecting our mediocrity.”

These are the strong words that a confessor might use to get us to examine our conscience.

But despite what we hear in the media, the Pope isn’t talking about changing any Church teachings. In fact, he criticizes those who wrongly think that mercy means being “too lax … the loose minister [who] washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin.’”

Pope Francis knows that the morality and teaching we find in the Catechism is rooted in something deeper, something “prior.” What matters most is Jesus Christ and our personal relationship with him.

“The most important thing,” our Holy Father says, “is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

The Pope knows that when we draw close to Christ, it leads to conversion. We want to change our lives to be more like him. This is the “context” that the Pope is talking about. Once we know God’s saving love in our lives, then we understand the meaning of the Church’s moral teachings.

There is so much in this interview that is worth praying over and reflecting on.

Our Holy Father wants us all to have greater simplicity and humility — and a greater sense of our responsibility for others.

He is calling us all to accompany others with mercy, to heal them and warm their hearts with the light of the Gospel. He is calling us to help our neighbors to find God in their lives. He says we need to find “new roads” to reach those who have left the Church or have given up on God.

The mercy of God is the heart of the message of Christ. That’s why the encounter with Christ is so urgent for every person. That’s the mission that Pope Francis sets before the Church — and before each one of us.

Let’s keep praying for one another this week. Let’s pray for our Pope!

And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to teach us to love like Jesus and to open our hearts to follow him more closely.

To read original article in Tidings, click here.




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  1. Thank you for posting this. I have only read portions so far, but it is good to know the mind of the Holy Father Francis.

  2. “God’s mercy doesn’t replace God’s justice. God’s mercy doesn’t blur the lines between right and wrong or good and evil. The mercy we find in the confessional brings all the darkness, all the shadows in our lives, into the light of God’s saving love.”
    This is an important point: God’s mercy is not some “get out of Hell free” card. We have to enter the confessional freely. The priest will no more drag us in than the father of the Prodigal Son dragged him home from the pigs. Mercy does not deny the darkness of sin; it says “the Light has overcome the Darkness. Repent, become a son of Light, and leave the Darkness”. Those who deny the darkness (especially their own darkness) mock God’s mercy, for they pretend it is not necessary.

  3. I’ve read the entire interview of Pope Francis conducted for Jesuit publications in several countries. It is remarkable because it reveals the Pope’s thinking and style which is significantly different than his most immediate predecessors. By his remarks and disparagement of the “mainstream media”, is Archbishop Gomez attempting to minimize or “spin” the significance of the Pope’s remarks?

  4. Dottie Day says:

    As the Catholic Church invites back the prodigal, will the clergy have the courage to teach about the readiness to receive the Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist? The Mass is sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening for his inner voice. Please let it not stop there — with lines of communicants who don’t understand that showing up is the beginning and not the end of the journey. Catechize! We need to prepare for the next step.

  5. This is why Pope Francis was elected Pope. He was elected to protect the Bishops from the child abuse scandal. They played and are playing a major part in the cover up and obstruction of justice in the priest child abuse scandal across the world. The Vatican is a house of cards ready to come down, as he says. Pope Frances has to address the priest abuse scandal or the house of cards will come down. He has not even tried so far. What he has done so far has changed nothing. He will probably won’t do anything of substance from here on in. This should make many of you very happy on this site.

    • From EWTN news on La Republica interview with Pope Francis: Also brought up in the interview was the topic of Church leaders, who, according to the Holy Father, “have often been narcissistic.” Although the curia’s main job is to manage “the services that serve the Holy See,” said the Pope, “its has a defect: it is Vatican-centric,“This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world that surrounds it. I do not share this vision and I will do everything (I can) to change it,” he said, emphasizing the need for a more communal dynamic in which the leaders of the Church “are at the service of the people of God.”Referencing St. Francis of Assisi’s vision of the Church, Pope Francis urged that “the ideal of a missionary and poor Church remains more than valid…this is still the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached.”

  6. Innominato says:

    Is this the “seamless garment” argument? Pope Francis, “the Church talks too much about small minded rules;” “the Church is obsessed with issues like abortion, gay marriage, homosexuality, contraception;” “talk more about mercy, the poor, tolerance, acceptance.” Since when as the Church ever stopped talking about compassion, etc? The two previous Popes and Fatima predicted that the smoke of Satan has entered the sacristy. Is it too early to tell? What strange and bizarre responses in the interview. I know that Pope Francis subsequently denounced abortion in a meeting with a group of physicians. Maybe there is still hope.

  7. From the interview with Cardinal Burke published in the Wanderer: With regard to changes, the Holy Father has indicated that he wants to study a reform of the Roman curia and that would necessarily mean also a reform in his way of relating to the particular churches throughout the world. He is studying all of that at the present moment. Those of us who hold offices in the Roman curia have been confirmed provisionally until he has finished this study. As Pope Francis has himself said, he was not part of the Roman curia and is just now coming to know the operation of the curia, and that takes time. He has only been in office for four months, so we are waiting to see.
    The group of eight Cardinals Pope Francis named [ to advise him on the reform of the Roman curia] is the result of a suggestion made during the general congregation before the conclave and is actually a suggestion that was discussed some years ago. The norms for the functioning of the body have not yet been published and so I cannot say exactly what will be the scope of the considerations presented to the group or precisely how it will operate. I imagine that that type of document will be forthcoming and then we will know more about it. What seems clear is that the Holy Father wants to have a group of close and highly qualified advisors to consult with in carrying out his responsibilities.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some of those the Pope has named to that group of eight have practically canonized pro-abortion, pro-sodomite politicians at their scandalous funerals!

      Our Lord had a great deal to say about those who bring SCANDAL!

      May God have mercy on an amoral America!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Cardinal Burke from same interview: (CCD links to this on it’s Sept 24 story)
        Q. Many faithful Catholics are troubled when high- profile political figures with unconcealed antilife, anti- family positions are honored in such ways as receiving invitations to speak at Catholic university commencement ceremonies and given honorary degrees or memorialized at public Catholic funeral Masses without having renounced their immoral positions. Faithful Catholics, at the same time, are taught they have committed a serious sin if they vote for these same candidates. How are those who are seriously trying to live out their faith to reconcile this apparent contradiction?
        A. You cannot reconcile it — it is a contradiction, it is wrong, it is a scandal, and it must stop! We live in a culture with a false sense of dialogue — which has also crept into the Church — where we pretend to dialogue about open and egregious violations of the moral law. Can we believe it is permissible to recognize publicly people who support open and egregious violations, and then act surprised if someone is scandalized by it? For Catholic institutions or individuals to give recognition to such persons, to honor them in any way, is a source of grave scandal for which they are responsible. In a certain way, they contribute to the sinfulness of the individuals involved. There is no way to reconcile it; it simply is wrong.

      • Yes, what could we expect from a handful of Progressivists!

  8. From the La Civita Cattolica interview with Pope Francis published in America magazine:
    “The dicasteries of the Roman Curia are at the service of the pope and the bishops,” he says. “They must help both the particular churches and the bishops’ conferences. They are instruments of help. In some cases, however, when they are not functioning well, they run the risk of becoming institutions of censorship. It is amazing to see the denunciations for lack of orthodoxy that come to Rome. I think the cases should be investigated by the local bishops’ conferences, which can get valuable assistance from Rome. These cases, in fact, are much better dealt with locally. The Roman congregations are mediators; they are not middlemen or managers.”

  9. St. Francis of Assisi, pray for San Francisco AND Pope Francis. They need your prayers.

    • I suggest the reading of Pope Francis’s first encyclical “Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith”. It seems he and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI collaborated on it. It is reminiscent of “The Spirit of the Liturgy” by Joseph Cardinal Radzinger, that Pope Benedict XVI wrote before his election to the papacy.

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