Vatican City, Jan 12, 2016 / 03:02 am
In his new book on God's mercy, Pope Francis explains that his oft-quoted words “who am I to judge”, about a homosexual person who is searching for the Lord with a good will, is simply his reflection on Church teaching found in the catechism.
The Name of God is Mercy, to be released Jan. 12, is a book-length interview of Pope Francis by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli. The book is meant to “reveal the heart of Francis and his vision,” according to Tornielli's foreward. He had wanted to ask the Pope about mercy and forgiveness, “to analyze what those words mean to him, as a man and a priest.”
The journalist asked Pope Francis about his experience as a confessor to homosexual persons and about his “who am I to judge” comment, made during his in-flight press conference from Rio de Janeiro to Rome July 28, 2013.
“On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?” Pope Francis told Tornielli. “I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.”
“I am glad that we are talking about 'homosexual people' because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love. I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”
The book includes nine chapters following the foreword by Tornielli, consisting of questions-and-answers between him and Pope Francis. It includes as an appendix Misericordiae vultus, Francis' papal bull announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
In the work, Pope Francis explains that he considers the present day a special time of mercy for the Church. He chose to hold a Year for Mercy through prayer and reflection on the teachings of recent Popes, as well as his own thought of the Church as a field hospital for sinners.
“Mercy is God’s identity card. God of Mercy, merciful God. For me, this really is the Lord’s identity,” he reflects.