136 – Francis changes the Vatican protocol regarding public sinners

On February 27, 2016, 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.

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).

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).

Francis

Awada-1

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
I – How did Jesus treat public sinners?
II – The path indicated for hardened sinners: abandonment of sin and interior conversion
III – How should unrepentant and hardened sinners be treated?


I – How did Jesus treat public sinners?


Pius X

Jesus’ heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will but also holy indignation against the profaners

Pius XI

The infinite charity of Our Redeemer encouraged a vehement hatred of sin

Sacred Scripture

Jesus did not answer Herod

Gregory I

We should be altogether silent before those who do not change their wickedness

Sacred Scripture

The sinful woman received pardon and Jesus’ love because she repented

Saint Gregory Nicene

When Our Lord mercifully visited others, it was to impart His own righteousness to them

Benedict XVI

For Jesus, good is good, and evil is evil

Gregory I

The heavenly Physician does not regard the sick who are made still worse by His remedy
Like Christ, the priest must carefully distinguish vices, for we must cherish a brother and punish the sinner

Theophilus

‘Go in peace’ means ‘Do all things which lead you to the peace of God’

Sacred Scripture

On the condition that she does not sin again, Jesus does not condemn the adulteress

Saint Augustine of Hippo

The Lord’s gentleness is a call to the amendment of ways

John Paul II

Jesus’ words ‘Go, and now sin no more’ must not be passed over

Sacred Scripture

Jesus stayed at the home of Zacchaeus because he had repented of his sins

Pseudo-Chrysostom

The rays of the Savior’s righteousness put to flight the darkness of sin

Titus of Bostra

No one that sees Jesus can remain any longer in wickedness – but sins are an obstacle to seeing Him

Saint Bede the Venerable

Loathing his dishonest gains the publican receives the blessing of his Lord’s company

Theophilus

They merit salvation who repent and walk in the opposite path to their former perverseness

Benedict XVI

Jesus Christ aims always at saving the sinner, at offering him the possibility of converting

II – The path indicated for hardened sinners: abandonment of sin and interior conversion


Sacred Scripture

Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

The merciful Lord counsels: ‘Make straight your ways and your doings’

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Fellowship with God cannot be had without moving away from the darkness of sin, for He is Light
God forgives sins provided you always displease yourself and change until you be perfected

Saint John Chrysostom

Like Christ, let us also not neglect anything that can convert sinners: warning, teaching, exhorting, admonishing, advising

Pseudo-Chrysostom

Jesus says: Bring them to me, that is, convert them to my glory

Benedict XVI

The sinner must be made to perceive that he has cut himself off by separating himself from the communion of the Church

John Paul II

The Church never conceals the demands of radicalness and perfection of the moral norm
The Church’s ministry of reconciliation includes adopting a real attitude of repentance

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The whole Church follows constantly the path of penance and renewal

Congregation for the Clergy

The priest must practice the ministry of forming consciences

III – How should unrepentant and hardened sinners be treated?


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

God only has compassion on those who produce profound cries of penance

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

God cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner or on those who are determined to offend Him

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Anyone who deliberately refuses to accept God’s mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins

Catechism of Trent

The imminent wrath of God pursues the sinner

Saint John Chrysostom

How can we pray to God and ask forgiveness of our sins, when we do not amend ourselves? Those who do not have pain for their sins cause indignation and wrath in God

Theophilus of Antioch

God is angry with those who act wickedly, but He is merciful to those who love and fear Him

Saint Thomas Aquinas

We ought to love the good more than those who are not so near to God
All should avoid the society of sinners as regards fellowship in sin

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

He who soothes the sinner furnishes the stimulus to sin – the priest must not mislead by deceiving concessions

Saint Augustine of Hippo

No man should keep company with notorious and public sinners

Pseudo-Chrysostom

Avoid those who persist in evil

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

The need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God the Judge

Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is not unjust for God to inflict eternal punishment for a sin that is not repented

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