Pope Francis said that it doesn't help to try to hide wounds and sins: "whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is – our own personal reality and the reality of our communities and societies."
Even St. Peter had to acknowledge that he "was a sinner like everyone else, as needy as the others, as frail as anyone else,” Francis emphasized. “As disciples, as a Church, we can have the same experience: there are moments when we have to face not our success but our weakness.”
What made St. Peter an apostle? What makes us apostles? he asked. One thing alone: that we have received the mercy of Christ.
Francis outlined three moments in the Gospels where we can learn from St. Peter, even as imperfect and sinful people, to bring Christ to the world. These three moments the Pope called Peter disheartened, Peter shown mercy, and Peter transfigured.
Before the resurrection, but following Christ's passion, St. Peter and the other apostles were “dismayed and confused,” Francis said. “These are the hours of dismay and confusion in the life of the disciple,” he said.
He pointed to the child sexual abuse scandal that has occurred within Chile as a "time of upheaval," saying he is attentive to what priests, consecrated, and religious are doing "to respond to this great and painful evil."
It is particularly painful, he said, "because of the harm and sufferings of the victims and their families, who saw the trust they had placed in the Church’s ministers betrayed. Painful too for the suffering of ecclesial communities, but also painful for you, brothers and sisters, who, after working so hard, have seen the harm that has led to suspicion and questioning; in some or many of you this has been a source of doubt, fear or a lack of confidence.”
"I know that at times you have been insulted in the metro or walking on the street, and that by going around in clerical attire in many places you pay a heavy price. For this reason, I suggest that we ask God to grant us the clear-sightedness to call reality by its name, the strength to seek forgiveness and the ability to listen to what he tells us,” he stated.
The Church in both Chile and Peru has faced major fallout from sexual abuse scandals in recent years, which have damaged the Church’s image and created a strong distrust of the hierarchy.
The major case in Chile is that of Fr. Fernando Karadima, who once led a lay movement from his parish in El Bosque. He was found guilty of sexually abusing minors in 2011 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He then addressed the changes Chilean society has seen since his youth: “New and different cultural expressions are being born which do not fit into our familiar patterns.”
“We can yield to the temptation of becoming closed, isolating ourselves and defending our ways of seeing things, which then turn out as nothing more than fine monologues,” he said. “We can be tempted to think that everything is wrong, and in place of 'good news', the only thing we profess is apathy and disappointment. As a result, we shut our eyes to the pastoral challenges, thinking that the Spirit has nothing to say about them. In this way, we forget that the Gospel is a journey of conversion, not just for 'others' but for ourselves as well.”
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The Pope stated, “Whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is – our own personal reality and the reality of our communities and societies.”
Turning to “Peter shown mercy,” he discussed St. Peter's encounter with the risen Christ: “It is time for Peter to have to confront a part of himself. The part of him that many times he didn’t want to see. He experienced his limitation, his frailty and his sinfulness. Peter, the temperamental, impulsive leader and saviour, self-sufficient and over-confident in himself and in his possibilities, had to acknowledge his weakness and sin. He was a sinner like everyone else, as needy as the others, as frail as anyone else … It is a crucial moment in Peter’s life.”
“As disciples, as Church, we can have the same experience: there are moments when we have to face not our success but our weakness,” the Pope said.
When Christ takes St. Peter aside to ask him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” he is trying to save him, the Pope said, “from the danger of remaining closed in on his sin, constantly dwelling with remorse on his frailty, the danger of giving up.”
Christ wants to free St. Peter “from seeing his opponents as enemies and being upset by opposition and criticism. He wants to free him from being downcast and, above all, negative. By his question, Jesus asks Peter to listen to his heart and to learn how to discern.”
The Lord “questioned Peter about love and kept asking until Peter could give him a realistic response: 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you'. In this way, Jesus confirms him in his mission.”