Who Am I To Judge?

Once upon a time, when I was young and naive (okay, young-ER and less cynical), I wrote an open letter to the brand new Pope Benedict about how he had been granted a huge responsibility and opportunity to make the Catholic church better for its adherents. Things have changed since then, and I’ve learned a lot, like the following:

  1. The Pope can quit. Can just walk off the job. That was a shock.
  2. I’m not sure how Catholic I really am anymore. I can’t get past the idea of a religious organization also being an extremely wealthy and bureaucratic political power. It’s disturbing.

But from these lessons, comes something else. Pope Francis I may be just what the Church needs. His name alone holds a call to humility, first, by refusing the names that have become nothing short of long-running monarchic titles. Moreover, St. Francis may be one of the most humble saints in mystic history. Leaving aside visions, etc., St. Francis’ teachings encouraged his brethren to embrace poverty and help the least fortunate. He is the patron saint of animals, due to his “Sermon to the Birds” and a story in which he convinced a village not to kill a wolf that was attacking its people. Instead, he convinced the villagers to feed the wolf and care for it. Animals are easy to abuse, truly the least of us, and St. Francis call was to love even those who could really do nothing for us. He declared that he “considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died.” Which, in all of Christianity, is everyone. No matter race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. It’s everyone.

Which brings me back to the Pope. Pope Francis made what is truly a landmark statement. “If someone is gay, but searches for the Lord in goodwill, who am I to judge?” This is a far cry from the Church’s prior stance of homosexuality being an intrinsic evil, or “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” (A statement that makes me shake with anger.) Cardinal Timothy Dolan responded by saying that this was not a change in policy, just a “change in tone.” But I disagree. It’s so much more than that.

“Who am I to judge?” is completely different. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” still puts a moral responsibility on everyone to despise an intrinsic part of another person made by and in the image of their God. “Who am I to judge?” says that love, dignity, and respect have no part in judgment and hate. Under Church doctrine, judgment is to be left up to God and God alone. Our part in this world is to help, serve, and love one another. It strikes me as wonderful, and even revolutionary, to have the leader of the Church, a huge political and religious organization, gently reprimand the Church’s leaders and followers for passing judgment on their fellow man.

Way to go, Pope Francis. If this is the new party line, I almost think I could get behind it again.

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6 Comments Who Am I To Judge?

  1. Avatar of RosieRosie

    I’m unsure as well about how Catholic I am. I also gathered the same impression you did from the Pope with that statement. I’ve read several articles about it, how it’s not a big deal and really still shows issues with homosexuality in a bad way, but in the end, I think this is a necessary step forward that I’m thankful is occurring.

  2. Avatar of [M] freckle[M] freckle

    In the news here there have been several people applauding it or saying “Ha LOL this really is kind of old/not impressive” so I don’t know where I am on the subject.

    I do (childishly) enjoy the hubbub coming from some Catholics who are in shock that it’s really not en vogue to burn homosexuals.

  3. Avatar of OpifexOpifex

    I’m not quite sure I share your enthusiasm. Or rather I am hopeful but guardedly so. After Benidict, high pope inquisitor and darth lord Sidious, anyone would seem liberal by comparison. I like Francis’ start, but he’s been a conservative dick in the past.

    1. Avatar of amandamariegamandamarieg

      I don’t know how I feel about him personally, but I am impressed by the way he has begun his time. And I definitely felt a paradigm shift with this comment, but I know not everyone did. Even if its just PR, it’s brilliant.

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