In his weekly column, Archbishop José H. Gomez said that despite what secular media outlets have reported, the heart of the Holy Father’s interview is fostering a lively relationship with Christ.
“Pope Francis knows that our faith journey begins in the encounter with God’s mercy – when the Lord looks upon us in mercy and calls us to follow him,” he wrote in his Sept. 26 column for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Roman Pontiff’s “simple confession” of being “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon” sets the tone for the focus on mercy and conversion in his wide-ranging interview published Sept. 19 in several Jesuit publications world-wide.
“The mercy of God is the heart of the message of Christ. That’s why the encounter with Christ is so urgent for every person. That’s the mission that Pope Francis sets before the Church — and before each one of us.”
However, mercy does not “replace God’s justice” or “blur the lines between right and wrong or good and evil,” Archbishop Gomez explained.
Mercy, especially that which is found in the sacrament of Confession, brings all that is dark in our lives “into the light of God’s saving love.”
Pope Francis reminds us of this in his interview when he “criticizes those who wrongly think that mercy means being 'too lax' or who washes his hands by simply saying, 'This is not a sin.'”
Instead of going to the other extreme of turning the Gospel into a set of “rules,” the Holy Father encourages us to “change our lives” to be more like our Savior, the archbishop said.
“The Pope knows that when we draw close to Christ, it leads to conversion.”
Even though the article takes up about 20 pages in a magazine, much of the secular media coverage “focused only on the four paragraphs … where the Holy Father talked about abortion, birth control and homosexuality.”
Such treatment of the Pope’s interview emphasizes the “vital” role that Catholic media plays in today’s world.
“Unfortunately, most mainstream media reporting on Pope Francis has not been really accurate. Instead they seem to be trying to present him in their own image, reflecting their own desires for the Church.”
He challenged readers to prayerfully read the interview itself, which he called “a window into our Holy Father’s soul and his vision for the Church,” instead of relying on mainstream media to discover what the Pope said.
Archbishop Gomez’ column can be read here.