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Pope Francis shows he’s a skilled physician for the wounded

From David Hains, director of communication for the Diocese of Charlotte, in response to “From Pope Francis, a message on judgment” (Our View, Sept. 21):

The editorial, while judgmental of the Catholic Church, represents a welcome shift that seems to be taking place in the media toward a deeper understanding of Christianity.

Many people for whom organized religion is, at best, an afterthought are intrigued and energized by what Pope Francis is saying. Christianity has always been a big tent and there is plenty of room for the curious who are being drawn in by a papacy with an unofficial media motto of, “Who am I to judge?”

As people think about the Holy Father’s statements, it is important to remember that this pope, like others before him, has as his bedrock the words of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Longtime observers of the Vatican have repeatedly stated that nothing Pope Francis has uttered so far is straying from that foundation.

Indeed, if you look closely at, “Who am I to judge?” you will see beyond an anything-goes statement to a question that begs for an answer. If the Holy Father isn’t judging, then who is? Christians know the judge well; He is Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life.

The simplicity of the pope’s remarks may sound like something new, but he is calling people to the same examination of conscience and conversion that faithful preachers of the Gospel have repeated for 2,000 years.

The pope’s remarks and the editorial also touch on the hot button issue of gay rights. Catholic teaching on persons with same-sex attraction is clear: being homosexual is not a sin. The Church teaches that it is homosexual acts, like heterosexual acts outside of marriage, that are wrong.

In his amenable way, Pope Francis is reminding us that each one of us is created in the image of God – whether we believe in Him or not. As such, Christians must treat others with dignity and respect, always acknowledging the inherent value and dignity of all human life. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Respect for the human person considers the other ‘another self.’ It presupposes respect for the fundamental rights that flow from the dignity intrinsic of the person.” (CCC 1944)

It is also important to remember that Christian churches are gathering places for wounded people, sinners. The Pope likened the Church to a field hospital, “I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” As a gathering place for those in pain, the Church today is in the hands of a skilled physician.

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