Dear Pope Francis: Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, or nothing, because, really, it’s God or nothing


This picture was taken while in procession with all the other Missionaries of Mercy about to go through the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy, accompanying the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Saint Leopold Mandić. Hey, maybe I could be burned at the stake tied with chains to this obelisk.

Pope Francis, we see in your homily of June 9 2016 (which I reprint below in English and Italian for the convenience of readers), that you call a lot of Catholics non-Catholics and heretics, perhaps even Cardinal Sarah (though you didn’t actually name him). John-Henry at Lifesite has a great article, as does NewCatholic over at Rorate.

Am I, your Missionary of Mercy, also a declared heretic?  Am I also not Catholic? Do I therefore lack faculties for the Sacrament of Mercy?

Here’s the deal, my little negotiation with you: To be called a heretic and a non-Catholic even by you is laughable to me, for, you see, I’ve already beat you to the accusations. I’ve been saying about myself for as long as I can remember that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin. I am the most damned of all. So, what you say about my being a heretic and non-Catholic means nothing to me. I believe that I have no strength at all to follow any moral law, any commandment. None of it is possible for me. It is impossible for this man. I am nothing. But I’ll tell you this, for me, Christ Jesus is everything, He is my strength who provides me with His love and goodness and kindness and fortitude and enthusiasm and joy, making following the commandments, however much they are impossible for me, not only possible, but that which I do because of the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, the very love that is the greatest love of my life that I want to share with others.Without Jesus’ love and joy, I would at most say, “I will do this but the rest is impossible for me.” And you would be content with that. Shame on you! For with Jesus’ love and joy, I say, “I will do it all, for I do not do it on my own, as I am dead to myself, but I do this by Jesus’ love and joy!” I would never tell others that they are good enough in their efforts with their own strength which they don’t have anyway, leaving them on their own far from Jesus, Mary’s Son. No! I introduce them to Him, to His love and joy, to His wounds, His torture, His death, so very much did He love us. And they thank me for it. And if that makes me the most damned of all heretics and non-Catholics in your view, then, well, I am really sorry for that, but, so be it. As I’ve said so many times with intended irony, Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir.  Condemn me if you have to. I will be happy to suffer for Jesus. That is my little negotiation with you. Deal?

Please, let me add that I love you to pieces Pope Francis. Please, rejoice with me. Again I will say, rejoice!

Below is Pope Francis’ homily in the “Vatican Radio English translation” (which I did not read) and what was provided of the original Italian (which I did read):

Pope: Those who say “this or nothing” are heretics not Catholics

2016-06-09 Vatican Radio

pope francis june 9In his homily the Pope reflected on the harm caused by Churchmen who do the opposite of what they preach and urged them to free themselves from a rigid idealism that prevents reconciliation between each other.

Taking his cue from Jesus’ warning to his disciples that unless their righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees they will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, Pope Francis stressed the importance of Christian realism. Jesus, he said, asks us to go beyond the laws and love God and neighbour, stressing that whoever is angry with their brother will be liable to judgement.

Insulting our brother is like giving a slap to his soul

The Pope said we have “a very creative vocabulary for insulting others” but stressed that such insults are a sin and are akin to killing because they are giving a slap to our brother’s soul and to his dignity. Noting the presence of several children at the Mass, Pope Francis urged them to stay calm, saying the preaching of a child in a church is much more beautiful than that of a priest, bishop or of the Pope.

A Churchman who does the opposite of what he preaches is a scandal

Jesus, said the Pope, urged his confused people to look beyond and go forward.  But at the same time, Christ warned about the harm caused to the people of God by Christians who do not follow their own teachings.

“How many times do we in the Church hear these things: how many times!  ‘But that priest, that man or that woman from the Catholic Action, that bishop, or that Pope tell us we must do this this way!’ and then they do the opposite. This is the scandal that wounds the people and prevents the people of God from growing and going forward. It doesn’t free them. In addition, these people had seen the rigidity of those scribes and Pharisees and when a prophet came to give them a bit of joy, they (the scribes and Pharisees) persecuted them and even murdered them; there was no place for prophets there.  And Jesus said to them, to the Pharisees: ‘you have killed the prophets, you have persecuted the prophets: those who were bringing fresh air.’”

Follow the healthy realism of the Church: No to idealism and rigidity

Pope Francis urged his listeners to recall how Jesus’s request for generosity and holiness is all about going forward and always looking out beyond ourselves. This, he explained, frees us from the rigidity of the laws and from an idealism that harms us. Jesus knows only too well our nature, said the Pope, and asks us to seek reconciliation whenever we have quarrelled with somebody.  He also teaches us a healthy realism, saying there are so many times “we can’t be perfect”  but “do what you can do and settle your disagreements.”

“This (is the) healthy realism of the Catholic Church: the Church never teaches us ‘or this or that.’ That is not Catholic. The Church says to us: ‘this and that.’ ‘Strive for perfectionism: reconcile with your brother.  Do not insult him. Love him. And if there is a problem, at the very least settle your differences so that war doesn’t break out.’ This (is) the healthy realism of Catholicism. It is not Catholic (to say) ‘or this or nothing:’ This is not Catholic, this is heretical.  Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws’ rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ And he understands us very well.  He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us.”

Reconciling amongst ourselves is the tiny sanctity of negotiation

Pope Francis concluded his homily by reminding how Jesus exhorted us to avoid hypocrisy and do what we can and at the very least avoid disputes amongst ourselves by coming to an agreement.

“And allow me to use this word that seems a bit strange: it’s the tiny sanctity of negotiations. ‘So, I can’t do everything but I want to do everything, therefore I reach an agreement with you, at least we don’t trade insults, we don’t wage a war and we can all live in peace.’ Jesus is a great person! He frees us from all our miseries and also from that idealism which is not Catholic. Let us implore our Lord to teach us, first to escape from all rigidity but also to go out beyond ourselves, so we can adore and praise God who teaches us to be reconciled amongst ourselves and who also teaches us to reach an agreement up to the point that we are able to do so.”

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis warned on Thursday against an excessive rigidity, saying those within the Church who tell us “it’s this or nothing” are heretics and not Catholics. His remarks came during the morning Mass on Thursday celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.



La santità del negoziato

Giovedì, 9 giugno 2016

(da: L’Osservatore Romano, ed. quotidiana, Anno CLVI, n.131, 10/06/2016)

Bisogna vivere «la santità piccolina del negoziato», ossia quel «sano realismo» che «la Chiesa ci insegna»: si tratta, cioè, di rifiutare la logica del «o questo o niente» e di intraprendere la strada del «possibile» per riconciliarsi con gli altri. Ecco la proposta lanciata da Francesco nella messa celebrata giovedì mattina, 9 giugno, nella cappella della Casa Santa Marta. Con una piccola nota di tenerezza: durante l’omelia un bambino si è messo a piangere ma Francesco ha subito rassicurato i genitori: «No, rimaniamo tranquilli, perché la predica di un bambino in chiesa è più bella di quella del prete, di quella del vescovo e di quella del Papa. Lascialo fare: lascialo fare, che è la voce dell’innocenza che ci fa bene a tutti».

Per la sua riflessione, il Papa ha preso le mosse dal brano del Vangelo di Matteo (5, 20-26), proposto dalla liturgia: «Gesù è in mezzo al suo popolo e insegna ai discepoli, insegna la legge del popolo di Dio». Infatti «Gesù è quel legislatore che Mosè aveva promesso: “Verrà uno dopo di me…”». Egli dunque è «il vero legislatore, quello che ci insegna come dev’essere la legge per essere giusti». Ma «il popolo era un po’ disorientato, un po’ allo sbando, perché non sapeva cosa fare e quelli che insegnavano la legge non erano coerenti». Ed è Gesù stesso a dire loro: «Fate quello che dicono, ma non quello che fanno». Del resto, «non erano coerenti nella loro vita, non erano una testimonianza di vita». Così «Gesù, in questo passo del Vangelo, parla di superare: “La vostra giustizia deve superare quella degli scribi e dei farisei”». Dunque, «a questo popolo un po’ imprigionato in questa gabbia senza uscita, Gesù indica il cammino per uscire: è sempre uscire in su, superare, andare in su».

E in questa direzione, ha spiegato Francesco, Gesù «prende come un primo esempio — ne prende tanti, no? — il primo comandamento: amare Dio e amare il prossimo: “Avete inteso che fu detto agli antichi: non ucciderai”, uno dei comandamenti di amore al prossimo, “ma io vi dico: chiunque si adira con il proprio fratello, dovrà essere sottoposto a giudizio. E chi poi dice al fratello stupido, dovrà essere sottoposto al sinedrio e chi gli dice pazzo sarà destinato al fuoco della Geenna”».

In sostanza, Gesù afferma che «è peccato non solo uccidere», ma anche «insultare e sgridare» il fratello. E «questo fa bene sentirlo», ha aggiunto il Papa, proprio «in questo tempo dove noi siamo tanto abituati ai qualificativi e abbiamo un vocabolario tanto creativo per insultare gli altri». Anche offendere, quindi, «è peccato, è uccidere». Perché «è dare uno schiaffo all’anima del fratello, alla dignità propria del fratello», dire frasi come: «non farci caso, questo è un pazzo, questo è uno stupido», e «tante altre parolacce che noi diciamo, con molta carità, agli altri». Questo, ha ribadito il Pontefice, «è peccato».

Francesco ha fatto notare che «Gesù risolve» i dubbi «di questo popolo disorientato e imprigionato guardando in su: la legge in su. E va avanti, collega la condotta del popolo con l’adorazione a Dio e dice: “Se tu vai all’altare a dare un’offerta e hai un problema con il fratello, o il fratello ce l’ha con te, va prima dal fratello, riconciliati”». E «questo è superare la legge e quello che dice è una giustizia superiore a quella degli scribi e dei farisei».

«Quante volte noi nella Chiesa sentiamo queste cose, quante volte!» ha constatato il Papa, ricordando che non è raro sentire frasi del tipo: «Ma quel prete, quell’uomo, quella donna dell’azione cattolica, quel vescovo, quel Papa ci dicono “dovete fare così!”, e lui fa il contrario». Questo è proprio «lo scandalo che ferisce il popolo e non lascia che il popolo di Dio cresca, che vada avanti. Non libera». Anche «questo popolo — ha proseguito — aveva visto la rigidità di questi scribi e farisei», tanto che «quando veniva un profeta che dava loro un po’ di gioia lo perseguitavano e anche lo ammazzavano: non c’era posto per i profeti lì».

Per tale ragione «Gesù dice ai farisei: “Voi avete ucciso i profeti, avete perseguitato i profeti: quelli che portavano l’aria nuova”». Gesù, «come ha detto nella sinagoga di Nazareth, è venuto a portarci l’anno di grazia, a portarci la liberazione, la vera liberazione: quella di Gesù», appunto. Per Francesco, «la generosità, la santità è uscire ma sempre, sempre in su: uscire in su». Questa «è la liberazione dalla rigidità della legge e anche dagli idealismi che non ci fanno bene».

«Gesù ci conosce tanto bene — ha spiegato il Papa — e conosce come noi siamo stati fatti perché lui è il creatore, conosce la nostra natura». Ed ecco che ci suggerisce: «Se tu hai un problema con un fratello — dice la parola “avversario” — mettiti presto d’accordo». Così il Signore «ci insegna anche un sano realismo: tante volte non si può arrivare alla perfezione, ma almeno fate quello che potete, mettetevi d’accordo per non arrivare al giudizio». È questo il «sano realismo della Chiesa cattolica: la Chiesa cattolica mai insegna “o questo, o questo”». Piuttosto «la Chiesa dice: “questo e questo”». Insomma, «fai la perfezione: riconciliati con tuo fratello, non insultarlo, amalo, ma se c’è qualche problema almeno mettiti d’accordo, perché non scoppi la guerra». Ecco il «sano realismo del cattolicesimo». Invece «non è cattolico ma è eretico» dire: «o questo o niente».

«Gesù — ha assicurato Francesco — sempre sa camminare con noi, ci dà l’ideale, ci accompagna verso l’ideale, ci libera da questo ingabbiamento della rigidità della legge e ci dice: “Fate fino al punto che potete fare”. E lui ci capisce bene». È «questo il nostro Signore, è questo quello che insegna a noi» dicendoci: «Per favore, non insultatevi e non siate ipocriti: andate a lodare Dio con la stessa lingua con la quale insultate il fratello, no, questo non si fa, ma fate quello che potete, almeno evitate la guerra fra di voi, mettetevi d’accordo». E, ha aggiunto il Papa, «mi permetto di dirvi questa parola che sembra un po’ strana, è la santità piccolina del negoziato: non posso tutto, ma voglio fare tutto, ma mi metto d’accordo con te, almeno non ci insultiamo, non facciamo la guerra e viviamo tutti in pace».

«Gesù è un grande — ha detto il Pontefice in conclusione — e ci libera da tutte le nostre miserie, anche da quell’idealismo che non è cattolico». Per questo «chiediamo al Signore che ci insegni, primo, a uscire da ogni rigidità, ma uscire in su, per poter adorare e lodare Dio; che ci insegni a riconciliarci fra noi; e anche, che ci insegni a metterci d’accordo fino al punto che noi possiamo farlo».


Filed under Amoris laetitia, Confession, Jesus, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis

18 responses to “Dear Pope Francis: Be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, or nothing, because, really, it’s God or nothing

  1. Vikflu

    Which version of the New Testament does PF read?

  2. pelerin

    Are the Ten Commandments to be regarded now as being ‘too rigid’ ?

    Actually this reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with our English Parish Priest who explained that ‘rules’ for Italians in particular were regarded as flexible guidelines, whereas we in Britain tend to see things in black and white – ie: it’s either right or it’s wrong. I wonder if that is what Pope Francis means. Thinking back to raising the children there had to be rules such as ‘Never touch the hot stove, never run into the road etc’ but I suppose apart from the obvious examples other rules were flexible depending on the circumstances.

    .And how are we supposed to go out ‘beyond ourselves’ ? This baffles me but of course if may be a faulty translation? I must have a look at the French to see if it is any more intelligible.

    • Father George David Byers

      @ pelerin – you said: “‘rules’ for Italians in particular were regarded as flexible guidelines” but that is about the secular law of the Senate and Roman People, more if a joke though, since if you break that law you can be put to death. An example from Amoris laetitia would be two adulterers sharing intimacies like fornication so as to be faithful to each other, you know, for the sake of the children. Saying that breaks a commandment seems to scream rigidity. But it is not rigidity. It is love to speak the truth. Just do this with love. And humility. Pointing people to Jesus.

  3. pelerin

    Having found the French translation of Pope Francis’ homily I see that whereas in English we have the somewhat baffling ‘go out beyond ourselves’, the French have ‘d’aller vers le haut’ which is actually much more understandable.
    ‘aller vers le haut’ is literally ‘to go to the top’ which I would paraphrase in this context as ‘to strive for perfection’ ie ‘do our best.’

    I no longer have to worry about how I can go beyond myself!

    • Father George David Byers

      But remember, doing your best is nothing. Instead, count on Jesus and be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

  4. Fr. Dominic

    Sometimes the title of the homily can be misleading. ‘Rigidity ruins interpersonal relationships’ would have been a better title. As sinners we all are guilty and culpable. As humans we can judge if one is guilty or not, but the gravity of culpability can be judged only by God. A rigid person holds a guilty person correspondingly culpable and ruins interpersonal relationships. This happens even among clergy which is a scandal.

    We all are called to be perfect but we cannot demand perfection from others. The perfection of the father lies mainly in bearing / forgiving our imperfection and thus leading us to share in His own perfection. Jesus lead his imperfect apostles to the height of perfection through the cross. So it is best to interpret the Pope’s homily in the context of interpersonal relationship rather than in the context of morals.

    • Father George David Byers

      Except for the fact that the decision of the toleration is calculated by the one purposely deciding possibilities not to follow Jesus because they are not strong enough for the whole thing. But, this is my point. None of us are strong enough for anything. We must depend on Jesus and all things are possible in His love. We let Him do the calculation on the cross, where He forgives us not counting the cost of asking us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is Perfect, and yes, morally in Jesus’ love.

  5. pelerin

    Father – your reply puzzles me. Surely it is our own personal responsibility to strive for perfection?

  6. Joan Furst

    Yikes!! if I do the best I can, I will go to hell. It really is God or nothing and I wish Pope Francis would keep it simple and less confusing.

    • Father George David Byers

      Yes. And isn’t it a relief to count on Jesus’ strength instead of our own? Yes! Because then He puts our hearts next to His so that they start to beat in unison. How dare we have the pretense to love wholeheartedly when He wants us to love with His Heart pretty much cut in two, bringing unity where there was division, singularity of judgment where there was calculation.

  7. Father Byers, this may be an inappropriate place to place this comment -,however l hope you will respond -either in a separate post or to this comment.

    Is it true that outside the Church there is no salvation? What does this really mean?

    What does ecumenism really mean from a Catholic perspective?

    God bless

    • Father George David Byers

      There is no salvation outside the Church. For another post…. But it means what it says.

  8. Thank you Father. I look.forward to that post.

  9. Daniel P Furey

    “There is no salvation outside the Church. For another post…. But it means what it says.”

    This sounds like one of those “rigid… this or nothing” rules that I’ve recently learned that the Catholic Church never teaches.

  10. elizdelphi

    The last section of Dominus Iesus is one of my favorite things in a Church document.

  11. paul

    where here is the Englsh version of the homily of the Pope?

    • Father George David Byers

      You have to click on the main title of the post and scroll down or click on “continue reading”. If you’re at the blog itself, to write your comment, you will have to have seen it just above the comments box, above the Italian. ;-) The English is, I must say, a paraphrase, and a bad one at that, lots of “I wish he would have said this so I’ll just re-write it” non-translations from Vatican Radio, which is usual for the English Program of Vatican Radio. I know. I worked there. I know them. That’s why I don’t read it, but the original Italian. In the Italian, most of the relevant paragraphs are at the end.

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