Who is Pope Francis to judge?

He’s the pope. Isn’t that part of his job? If not him, then who?

Speaking with reporters on board his flight returning from Brazil to Rome, Pope Francis made the following comment, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?”

Who is he to judge? He’s the pope. Isn’t that part of his job?! He is the leader of a millennia old institution – one steeped in legal tradition and religious norms. How could he not judge? If not him, then who?

Has Pope Francis become some kind of relativist? A post-modern paralytic unable to take a stand when asked what many would deem to be a straightforward question, and one with what many more would assume is an equally straightforward answer? Hardly.

What Pope Francis did in answering as he did, was to distinguish between making a judgment and being judgmental.

Far from being unable or unwilling to make a judgment, Pope Francis, in answering the reporter’s question as he did, made any number of judgments. And while they depart from, or even contradict the teaching of his predecessor on gay priests, for example, the judgments Pope Francis made are actually not terribly surprising — at least not so surprising when one views them in the context of his past words and deeds.

This is the pope who spoke of the spiritual dignity of atheist reporters covering him in Rome, washed and kissed the feet of HIV/AIDS patients and prisoners, and did these things in the name of his Catholic faith.  In fact, the pope’s response on the plane continues his trademark combination of deep humility, concern for marginalized and vulnerable populations, and total commitment to the traditions of his church.

Holding that particular “trinity” together is no small feat, especially in today’s world, where those who are willing to make judgments often do so rather judgmentally, and those who resist harsh judgmentalism, often find it difficult to make any judgments at all.  The ability to exercise judgment without becoming judgmental is fast becoming something of this pope’s trademark, so it should really come as no great surprise that he answered as he did.

Pope Francis did more than answer a question though. He articulated an ethic of judging, one which recognizes that while making judgments is a necessary part of life – in this case, determining who is acting in good will, what it means to seek the Lord, and the insistence that some people forego sexual expression — not all judgment-making is within human purview, even of the human in question is the pope.

To be clear, Pope Francis questioned neither his own authority as pope, nor church teaching on homosexual sex. That, for him at least, would be tantamount to suspending all capacity for judgment. Instead, he simply accepted the fact that when one seeks God, is judged to be doing so in good will, and lives according to the church’s rules, that person should be above human reproach.

Imagine that, a stalwart institutional leader who recognizes that while the institution he leads is sacred – ordained by God, for those who follow the faith – there are times when all of us must be willing to say “who am I to judge?”  Some things, the pope’s comments suggest, simply belong to God.

Image courtesy of Semilla Luz.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • yehoshooah adam

    the alleged as pope, is supposed to be true to G-D and not to the world of subtle talking critters. this pope is no different than all the other previous abominations, only in it for the show biz. you cannot denounce any command of G-D, without being demonic.

    has there ever been even one pope, true to G-D here in The same History again from G-D? when all the other times, the world and their grandmother of all tried this it was always nearly all completely destroyed by flood.

    you are a danger to yourself and others, by condoning any of your not here in TheTorah sins. all you are going to do is anger G-D even more, with your demonic terrorism against THEM, YE-HOO V-HEE. in this world that has never gotten This Story of The Twice Coming of Adam right with G-D still here in TheTorah Happening. do we really need for G-D, to give us all more hell for this?

  • yehoshooah adam

    the alleged as pope, is supposed to be true to G-D and not to the world of subtle talking critters. this pope is no different than all the other previous abominations, only in it for the show biz. you cannot denounce any command of G-D, without being demonic.

    has there ever been even one pope, true to G-D here in The same History again from G-D? when all the other times, the world and their grandmother of all tried this it was always nearly all completely destroyed by flood.

    you are a danger to yourself and others, by condoning any of your not here in TheTorah sins. all you are going to do is anger G-D even more, with your demonic terrorism against THEM, YE-HOO V-HEE. in this world that has never gotten This Story of The Twice Coming of Adam right with G-D still here in TheTorah Happening. do we really need for G-D, to give us all more hell for this?

  • Leonor Fontes

    what?

  • Leonor Fontes

    what?

  • Hildy J

    While I applaud what he did say, one wishes for something stronger. The pope should take the example of Desmond Tutu, a man of towering faith, spirituality, and courage (a combination lacking in many popes) who said:

    “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven … I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” Tutu said at Friday’s news conference. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

    That’s

  • Hildy J

    While I applaud what he did say, one wishes for something stronger. The pope should take the example of Desmond Tutu, a man of towering faith, spirituality, and courage (a combination lacking in many popes) who said:

    “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven … I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” Tutu said at Friday’s news conference. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

    That’s

  • Rand503

    Sounds like a pretty infantile god. And you worship someone like this? ACtually, he sounds more how I would expect a devil to act — angry, petulent, vengeful, quick to condemn to hell those who don’t toe the line.

  • Rand503

    Sounds like a pretty infantile god. And you worship someone like this? ACtually, he sounds more how I would expect a devil to act — angry, petulent, vengeful, quick to condemn to hell those who don’t toe the line.

  • Sutter

    Let’s be clear (as most reporters and commentators have not been in gushing praise of the new Pope): while he said that just being homosexual is not a sin, he said that any homosexual acts are sins. He still judges and condemns them. Maybe he thinks it’d be okay if every homosexual remained celibate for their entire lives–like Catholic priests

  • Sutter

    Let’s be clear (as most reporters and commentators have not been in gushing praise of the new Pope): while he said that just being homosexual is not a sin, he said that any homosexual acts are sins. He still judges and condemns them. Maybe he thinks it’d be okay if every homosexual remained celibate for their entire lives–like Catholic priests

  • Sutter

    Pope Francis is still homophobic, but has tuned down the rhetoric a bit. Media reports the “who am I to judge?” comment, but still feels God condemns all homosexuals for their acts. Same old same old.

  • Sutter

    Pope Francis is still homophobic, but has tuned down the rhetoric a bit. Media reports the “who am I to judge?” comment, but still feels God condemns all homosexuals for their acts. Same old same old.

  • yehoshooah adam

    sorry but the judgment on this matter, has already been given to Moshe. G-D’S The Law, does not change. there is no homosexual heaven, there is only oblivion awaiting the worshipers of halooseefer. to even agree with this sin, is punishable by oblivion. and shall be consumed in the fire, ghost and all.

    in fact according to scripture, you cannot be elected as pope representing G-D without being married to one wife and have children. you shall not make any law commanding celibacy, that violates The Command of G-D to be fruitful and multiply.

  • yehoshooah adam

    sorry but the judgment on this matter, has already been given to Moshe. G-D’S The Law, does not change. there is no homosexual heaven, there is only oblivion awaiting the worshipers of halooseefer. to even agree with this sin, is punishable by oblivion. and shall be consumed in the fire, ghost and all.

    in fact according to scripture, you cannot be elected as pope representing G-D without being married to one wife and have children. you shall not make any law commanding celibacy, that violates The Command of G-D to be fruitful and multiply.

  • yehoshooah adam

    say what your demonic, mental infantile paralysis wants. but i have been around, for tens of billions of years, longer than any of you. and either you agree to G-D’S, judgment or you don’t. your eternal life, is at stake here.

    i have no problem with G-D, sending any of you into oblivion for the worship of halooseefer. This Blasphemy against RUACH HA KODESH, shall never be forgiven. i shall not even try to defend, any of the worshipers of the worse of the three angels pouring their sins upon this world.

    i am G-D’S Ambassador, representing G-D here on earth. as my and the appointed woman’s time of appointment grows ever nearer, for when G-D takes off for the day of rest again, and i am not stupid enough to believe, that G-D, is ever going to give any of you rebellious grandchildren with any peace.

    your condoning others to sin, is only going to make this end time ever worse.

  • yehoshooah adam

    say what your demonic, mental infantile paralysis wants. but i have been around, for tens of billions of years, longer than any of you. and either you agree to G-D’S, judgment or you don’t. your eternal life, is at stake here.

    i have no problem with G-D, sending any of you into oblivion for the worship of halooseefer. This Blasphemy against RUACH HA KODESH, shall never be forgiven. i shall not even try to defend, any of the worshipers of the worse of the three angels pouring their sins upon this world.

    i am G-D’S Ambassador, representing G-D here on earth. as my and the appointed woman’s time of appointment grows ever nearer, for when G-D takes off for the day of rest again, and i am not stupid enough to believe, that G-D, is ever going to give any of you rebellious grandchildren with any peace.

    your condoning others to sin, is only going to make this end time ever worse.