Pope Francis Apologizes for…. Well, for Everything.

Pope Francis Apologizes for…. Well, for Everything. October 14, 2015

Pope Francis smilingAt his Wednesday General Audience today in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis set aside his planned remarks and delivered an off-the-cuff apology. “Before beginning my catechesis,” he said,

“…I would like–in the name of the Church–to ask your forgiveness for the scandals which have occurred recently, both in Rome and at the Vatican.”

To what scandals, exactly, was he referring? Most certainly, he was inspired to apologize by the reading of the day, drawn from the readings of the day–from Romans 2, which says in part:

Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself….

And by a passage which was read from the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus warns us not to scandalize the “little ones.” That is appropriate, in light of the sexual abuse scandals which have rocked the Church in the last decade.

*     *     *     *     *

There have, to be sure, been some whopper scandals emanating from Rome. The one that pops quickly into mind is the sad revelation of an active same-sex relationship on the part of a Vatican official, Monsignor Krysztof Olaf Charamsa, who was stripped of his duties after announcing his homosexuality at a press conference on the eve of the Synod.

Then there are the Synod-related stories that have raised eyebrows: most especially the he said/he said controversy that exploded in the media this week, dubbed “letter-gate” by Crux’ John Allen. In that case, thirteen (or was it nine?) cardinals sent a private letter to Pope Francis, which was then leaked to the press. 

There are other issues which cry for repentance, to be sure: the apparent dissidence on the part of some German hierarchy who seek to change longstanding Church law; the insufferable vanity of the so-called “bishop of bling.”

We are sinners, all of us. Like the statue in Daniel 2:32-33, we may have a head of fine gold, but our feet are made of clay.

But why must Pope Francis apologize for all of the shortcomings among the members of his flock?

The sins, the shame, the shortcomings, they are aplenty. Like Peter, who denied Christ three times; like the apostles, arguing among themselves regarding who is the greater…. we all, in our pride and our carelessness, heap infamy upon the Church of which we are members.

To have yet another apology coming from the pontiff for these sins which were beyond his control– Well, sometimes you’d like to just give him a hug and tell him “Don’t worry, Papa. It’s not your fault.”

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