On February 27, Francis received the current President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, accompanied by his concubine Juliana Awada, as well as other politicians from his party, in a brief audience lasting less than thirty minutes. We have already had the opportunity to comment on some aspects related to this topic (see here); however, during the audience something much more serious happened, generating unease among many Catholics. We are only publishing it now, having concluded our study on this topic. And it couldn’t be timelier, and has an even greater relevance after the publication of Amoris Laetitia (see our analysis here).
This is what Elisabetta Piqué, friend and confidant of Francis, has to tell on the topic:
“There was a previous incident two and a half years ago with a Latin American leader I prefer not to mention, who arrived with his common-law wife, not having yet received the annulment of his first marriage. And the Pontiff felt very bad when he was obliged by protocol to greet the woman separately, in a different room”, as was reported by La Nación, a well-informed source on Vatican affairs. “It seemed unjust to him, and he began to work on the idea of changing the protocol, and this is something that took place for the first time today with Macri”, she added (La Nación, February 28, 2016).
And in fact, this is what happened at the official audience: At the beginning, the Bishop of Rome showed much coldness to all (we have already seen why), but in the end he greeted Awada with a broad smile, in the same room where the audience had taken place.
As La Nación pointed out, what took place was a historic change in the norms of the Church…but this sparked other, deeper concerns. Besides a diplomatic change, not only the attitude in itself – which has its own subtleties – but moreover the underlying reason it came about, attacks moral principles which have always been zealously protected by the Church.
Jesus gave us undeniable examples, very different from those which Francis portrays: in His heart overflowing with love, Christ also experienced holy indignation toward those inveterated in evil, to the point of even denying them a word or a gaze: Herod, the bad-thief, Pilate etc.. The Holy Church, faithful to its divine Founder, has maintained the same conduct to this very day. While the Church pardons and lovingly welcomes repentant sinners; at the same time, with justice, it has condemned and chastised those who refuse to convert and remain hardened in their state of sin. Moreover, the Church has never given public demonstrations that insinuate the least kind of approval of this state. Acting in this way, it has preserved its children from the poison of scandal and kept it from the contamination of vice, besides also trying, as if in an ultimate act of mercy, to open the eyes of unrepentant sinners to the state in which they find themselves, before it is too late.
What should our attitude be toward public sinners? Let us recall some of the teachings extracted from the Holy Gospel; and learn from the saints themselves how it behooves us priests to distinguish between those who we should have compassion on, and those to whom we should show justice. If we fail to act correctly, we might end up participating in the vices of public sinners and risking that the divine malediction fall upon us, for scandal is the cause of the loss of many souls: ‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come’ (Mt 18:6-7). More here…