Burn the Heretic at the Stake?
For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about Pope Francis lately. He is deep into his 81st year and there seems to be no let-up to his energy level. I’ve been looking over his daily homilies which he gives Monday thru Friday at Casa Santa Marta, his home in the Vatican.
His warm love for people is striking, no matter who or what they are. He sees divine life co penetrating all human life, which enables him to see his brother or sister in every human person. On his recent visit to Egypt he embraced the head Imam of Cairo with the words, “Greetings, My Brother.”
His equal acceptance of saint and sinner, rich and poor says to me that for Francis, the human person is more important than ideas, doctrines or laws. He has quoted Jesus so often – ‘the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath’- that he seems to be its very embodiment. He is more at home with concrete reality, which is often a tangled web of messiness, than he is with neat and clean ideals.
Francis doesn’t talk “church-speak” or the language of the theology. Like Jesus, he uses concrete imagery. God is like a shepherd, a Good Samaritan, a welcoming and forgiving father. The church is like a field hospital in a war zone. Regarding the moral state of people, he offers his now famous “Who am I to judge?” Let the word of God speaking to your conscience be your judge – cf. John 12:46-48.
He prizes unity, fraternity, compassion, and life itself as taking precedence over doctrine and law and tradition. He wants believers not to change their beliefs but their priorities. Put compassion, forgiveness, respect and love before everything else. The human person is more important than what he or she believes.
He doesn’t want us to discard canon law or the catechism. He wants us to get our priorities right and put the dignity and sacredness of the human person before all else.