Pope Francis...the quality of mercy is not strained. The corruption of the Gospel message of mercy with heartless ideologies.

Watching the reaction from the various pressure points in the Catholic community and beyond to the recent interview with Pope Francis, what strikes me most is how almost all of them are strident, declaratory, self-satisfied... In complete contrast to the tone and manner of thought of the pope himself.

Francis as the pastor, the bishop of Rome, speaks like Jesus. Read the Gospel and read Francis and they are seamless. Unlimited mercy, compassion for those struggling with life, the sick in need of the doctor, and only clear, even harsh words for those religious leaders only too ready to 'lord it over' others. His empathy, insight into the human person and its necessary way of pilgrimage into the life of God, the essential dynamic of a pastor to love his sheep, this is deeply attractive, even to those way beyond the walls of the Church. It stirs the heart to have hope that all is not lost, that they aren't cut off for all time, that no sin is too much, that no one has a God given place above others when it comes to our broken humanity. Even the pope, the highest office holder among all Christians, he is a sinner just like me. He comes to the prison and washes the feet of his brothers and sisters, he walks the streets of the favela in Brasil as a fellow citizen in old black shoes. He doesn't latch on to what he can condemn in the single mother but her heroism in refusing the easy option of abortion and being a defender of life and in her struggle and fragile humanity a warrior for the culture of life.

He is just so different from the culture of life activists who campaign against abortion and shout out the Church's rules that excommunicate, and from those pro choice nuns who shout out a woman's right to choose. Both reduce human suffering which comes from the brokenness and fragility of the human race to live a good life, to an ideology. The poor are reduced to bit parts in the ideological campaigns of others who are, quite frankly, rich. And there is perhaps nothing more sickening, more reeking of the stench of evil, than when church men and women wrap themselves in the ideologies of human projects and label it 'the Gospel'. People drift away in droves. The heart is not totally deceived, and without the Spirit of God to convict the heart with the gift of faith, these hollow 'isms'  drain the Church of its life with the erection of a 'pseudo Gospel'.

 Instead he goes to the heart of the human life as lived, rejecting the ideologies which so often swill through the corridors of Church institutions. And just like Jesus, everyone just about loves him for his compassion, for his words which somehow stir up hope for a better life, a life that can be in a deep way, Good. 


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