The Face of Love: On Pope Francis’ Interview


Servant

Turn off your television, your radio, close the door and be quiet just for a second and listen. Do you hear that? That’s the sound of silence, which is the opposite of the cries of elation, confusion, and outrage reverberating around the world in response to the recent interview with Pope Francis by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., titled, A Big Heart Open To God.

On one side, the liberal media’s coverage of this article, unfortunately displays an extreme lack of journalistic integrity. The popular spin is that the Pope is a flaming liberal as proclaimed by William Saletan of Slate Magazine. The Huffington Post and many other outlets are helping to spread the misinformation to people who will listen to their reports but never bother to read the actual article, asserting the notion that the Pope had all but come out in support of homosexuality and abortion, of which he did neither.

On the other side, conservative Catholics are having a nervous breakdown over the Pope’s words, which I find perplexing. In reading the entire article, I contend the Pope’s message here is the same one he’s been proclaiming since we first heard the words Habaemus Papam; to live the virtues of love and humility. From day one, he’s been challenging all Catholics alike to serve. Serve the poor, be a good samaritan to the outcast, etc. There should never be anyone too lost for us to love or too low for us to serve (lyrics to the song The Face of Love, by Sanctus Real). Can we not all remember that we Catholics who strive to live a holy life are sinners, too? Not one of us that strives to be perfect as scripture exhorts us to do is better than anyone else. We are all sinners. As a matter of fact, Pope Francis said this about himself at the beginning of the article:

I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.

I understand that some people feel the Pope needs to better articulate his messages so as not to cause confusion and I don’t have a problem with that. But I would like to share with you my point of view on what I believe Pope Francis’ overall message is in that article.

I am a conservative cradle Catholic and in my 50 years of life, I have stood on both sides of my faith. I leaned to the left during my post divorce years where I was looked down upon and often ignored by many “good Catholics” because of my circumstances. I did not want my divorce and I could not help that I had lost 3 children in miscarriage, but few people were willing to listen to my story. Unfortunately then, I sought happiness in the world, knowing deep down it was not the answer, but not knowing where else to turn. No one in the Catholic Church was throwing me a bone.

Later, I leaned to the extreme right of my faith. That came after a crisis of conscience when I finally realized true healing wasn’t found in the world, it came through embracing my faith. I fell deeply in love with Christ, the sacraments and all things Catholic. But without realizing it, I became rather judgemental of others, in that I assumed someone who was not living their Catholicism to the degree I was, was not as good as I. I became the people who nearly drove me out of the Church years before.

But between these left and right positions was one amazing priest, Fr. Frank. This priest sat in his office with me for more than an hour one day as I made a general confession. During that time, Fr. Frank was completely silent; never interrupting, just listening. When I finished, what he told me changed my life and helped me find my self-worth in Christ. He assured me that, although I had wandered far from my faith, Christ had been with me all along. Christ had walked through it all with me, His hand on my shoulder, never losing contact. I was that precious to Him. I was the lost sheep coming home on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd. That’s not all he said, but it was those words that moved me to my core and revitalized my love for my faith.

After reading Fr. Antonio’s interview, I can’t help but remember Fr. Frank for I believe the Pope’s overall message in this article is no different than my experience that day in confession. My favorite quote of Pope Francis’ from the article is:

I see the church as a field hospital after battle.

That’s what the confessional and Fr. Frank were for me that day nearly 20 years ago, and that’s what Pope Francis is asking all of us faithful Catholics to be—healers in the field hospital that is the Church. Focus on the person, draw them closer to Christ and help heal the wounds so they can experience the fullness and beauty of the faith. Amen!

You can send your comments, disagreements and questions to asklisa@catholicmatch.com and follow me on Twitter at @lisaduffy.






10 Comments

  1. Eloise-899090 September 23, 2013

    Lisa,

    Thank you for sharing your life of pain, joy and searching. Beautifully written from your heart and soul.

    Eloise

  2. Bill-858497 September 23, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your story of confession! That is really beautiful!

    I love Pope Francis. He is responding to people much the same way Jesus did. They come to him expecting him to condemn certain people for their sins, but instead of condemning them, he tells them to look within their own hearts and to love that person/those people for who they are as God’s own children (even though they may be lost), not to hate them for their sins. I think the more we become “better Catholics” the harder it is to practice this kind of love, patience, and forgiveness.

    Unfortunately, the media likes to distort the Pope’s words because they want to make the Church look bad and they want to draw people further away from the truth. As people are making such a great effort to spread lies, we need to make all the more effort to spread the Truth!

  3. Pamela-974928 September 24, 2013

    Thank you for your post. I agree with you on all points.

    Everyone should read Pope Francis’ First Encyclical letter, The Light of Faith…..which to me is a message of love…..Love is far more reaching than family and romance. Love is hearing and seeing the truth through faith. Love is caring for those we do not know. As we reach out to love others outside our safe circle of life, the light of faith brightens the darkness, so others may see and hear God’s truth…..

  4. Jennifer-939674 September 24, 2013

    I agree during different points in out lives, we will feel different out topics, left and right. I do agree Pope Francis is saying what needs to be said.. serve and help those in need… Our world focuses too much on left and right wing…. Catholic is Catholic.. Help those who need help and reach out… and don’t judge… I know some who are judged may not want to come back to the church… let’s draw those back in & let them know we are help to pray for them, with them, and for them. Prayer changes everything.

  5. Nilda-834707 September 24, 2013

    Lisa, thank you so much for this very well written and very much needed article. I have forwarded it to family and friends. Thanks and God bless. Nilda

  6. Aa-966758 September 24, 2013

    Excellent article. Unlike Lisa, I am a liberal Catholic who agrees with none of the Church’s positions on the various social issues. I “left the Church” if such a thing could be said because my family was just way too “churchified”. I started going back to Church only recently. People miss Christ’s message – that everyone’s a sinner and everyone deserves to be forgiven. I will never meet that standard, but unfortunately as Lisa says, far too many Catholics view themselves as “a cut above”, parading through life sanctimoniously judging everyone else. And liberals blame the Church for it. The truth is it’s the laity who perpetuate the nonsense. I should know. I came from similar circumstances – even though there was divorce all round. But never mind that. We now have a pope who is a genuine humanitarian, intelligent and displaying Christ’s message all over the place. And neither faction can stand it. Like it or not, all Catholics are Catholic. And all are answerable to GOD alone.

  7. MaryCarol-996265 September 24, 2013

    Thank you for sharing from your heart and your faith. In doing so, you have helped me, also a lost sinner. As can be seen from some of the comments, our Church is a divided Church and there are many hurt and angry in the field hospital and also in those who have left the Church. Perhaps if people would stop judging even our Pope and his messages and just listen and receive, healing could take place. Jennifer is right when she talks about the left and right sides and is this what God wants? Is it what Jesus spoke of the Church being? Pope Francis may bring more of a spotlight to our differences which is good, because then we can see just how divided and hurt we are as a Church and only then, can we see the need to heal and in doing so, become integrated as one. Perhaps this is too lofty a notion and very idealistic, but I don’t think many will argue about how many damaged, hurt, angry and misinformed people there are within, let alone outside. I pray that Pope Francis through the power of the Holy Spirit, can be a unifying and healing force for all of God’s children wherever they may be.

  8. Regina-949796 September 25, 2013

    Thank you Lisa for a well worded article. Your comments on yourself being a conservative Catholic are well said. I too was a conservative Catholic in my younger days. I followed the letter of the law, too afraid of making a single mistake and being judged by others. As I aged and grew in my faith and comfortable with myself, I realized I became more on the liberal side and not afraid of speaking my mind. Having three daughters helped me in that department :) My eyes and ears have perked up listening to Pope Francis and what he has been saying. His stand on helping the poor and helpless in this world have me searching my own soul for what I might need to do better to help those in need and not judge. His humble ways have me truly looking towards him for what he might say next. Your crisis of faith reminded me of mine and how those experiences made me stronger and able to listen more to the cries of the poor. Thank you for your comments and may you continue to write and use them for the good of all.

  9. Jim-986885 September 25, 2013

    There is a great difference between judgement & and discernment. Jesus told us ‘If you love Me you will obey My commandments.’ When we fail to live in accord with God’s will many, many people are hurt. The world is in turmoil, more broken families and violence than I’ve seen in my lifetime. I am a sinner in great need of grace & and mercy. The church’s stand on the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, the sacred nature of marriage and the importance of religious liberty are all gravely important. I believe Pope Francis is the successor of St. Peter, ‘the rock upon which I will build My church’, given the keys to the kingdom, by the words of Christ Himself. I struggle with the Holy Father’s words seemingly, easily twisted by a media antagonistic to the church. I pray for the Holy Father, believe the Holy Spirit is with him in a special way and in my fallen humanity struggle on ‘the race’ as St. Paul put it, till I stand before The Lord.

  10. Um-370126 October 3, 2013

    I love Pope Francis!! He’s bringing the Church into the 21st century and thankfully leaving the “old Church” in the dark ages where it belongs!

    Jesus loves you Pope Francis!!

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