by Ethan Mack
In late August, the Holy Father, Pope Francis gave a lengthy interview to the Italian Jesuit publication, La Civiltà Cattolica which was translated and published last Thursday in 16 separate Jesuit publications, including America magazine. The article in America, entitled “A Big Heart Open to God,” comes in at a word count of around 1200 and covers issues varying from the pope’s Jesuit spirituality to the role of women in the Church.
The article begins by addressing the question “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” Reflecting the humility and simplicity that many have come to love about this Pontiff, the pope responds, “I do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner.” The pope then goes on to discuss how he decided to enter the Society of Jesus. He heavily considered joining the Dominicans when he first entered the diocesan seminary; however, he ultimately decided to enter the Society of Jesus for three main reasons: “the missionary spirit, community, and discipline.”
The interview has garnered a great deal of attention in the secular media for a section in which Pope Francis discusses the moral positions which often put the Church at odds with secular society. The pope states, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.”
Many have claimed that this puts the pope at odds with the traditional teaching of the Church. However, most Catholic commentators say that the pope is simply stating how these contentious moral truths need to be placed within the context of the ultimate truth of Christ’s resurrection. Later in the interview the pope adds, “…when we speak about these [moral] issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Pope Francis also spoke about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, of which he has been an ardent promoter during his papacy. He says, “The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” He goes on to say, “…the great benefit of confession as a sacrament [is] evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”
The full interview with the pope covers many additional topics, and it can be found online at America magazine’s website.