Unofficial Papal Mottoes: Part II – Pope Francis and Limitless Divine Mercy

How does the role of Divine Mercy” as an unofficial motto play out with Pope Francis? When asked about homosexuals Pope Francis replied, “Who am I to judge”. This should remind us of the deliverance of the adulterous woman where Jesus Christ told those who wanted to stone the woman, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her [John 8:7]” That Pope Francis, said, “who am I to judge” does not mean that the Church accepts homosexuality as ok. Note that at the end of the adulterous woman story when the woman says to Jesus that no one in the crowd has thrown a stone he replies, “Neither do I condemn you. []Go away, and from this moment sin no more [John 8:11].” This was a nuanced and merciful response, like Pope Francis today. Francis has repeatedly said that he accepts the basic tenets of the Catholic faith such as marriage, family, and sacredness of human life…that he simply is not spending as much time on polarizing issues as that is not what his triage of the Church is calling for.

This message of “divine mercy” is revitalizing and energizing the church.  It is making it more attractive and relevant to the people of the world. Pope Francis was the person of the year in 2013 for Time and many other magazines.  There are many other measures of popularity and positive awareness that can be tabulated, as well.  In recent times there has been a call for “The New Evangelism”.  It is the right time too, as Pope Benedict XVI said, re-propose the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization”, clergy scandals like child abuse and more.  Pope Francis in his daily actions serves as a model of how to do so.  It is easy to simply label something black or white.  It makes life easy, but not necessarily right.  Let us follow the more nuanced merciful example of Pope Francis.

“Sentiment without action…


…is the ruin of the soul.”

Edward Abbey (1927 – 1989. Radical American author and essayist known for his environmental advocacy and criticism of public land policies.)

“Practice, and if necessary preach”

St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226,  Beloved patron saint of animals, birds, and the environment.)

That this idea is repeated through the ages indicates it has truth in it, and we see this in action through Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948).  Did you know that Gandhi read the bible and was influenced by the Christian faith.  I too am guided by this faith and see sentiment in action through the lives of Catholic saints.  Mother Theresa is my favorite for many reasons, and became even more so recently when I read what she said about religion.

“Religion is not something that you or I can touch.  Religion is the worship of God – therefore a matter of conscience.  I alone must decide for myself and you for yourself, what we choose.  For me, the religion I live and use to worship God is the Catholic religion.  For me, this is my very life, my joy, and the greatest gift of God in his love for me.  He could have given me no greater gift.”

Mother Theresa (1910 – 1997)

An amazing Catholic evangelist, yet not one that immediately comes to mind.  She wasn’t like those fiery preachers we see on TV, but a person who completely embodied the values of her faith.

A takeaway lesson in evangelism, whether it be religion, or something else like dance that I share through djing, teaching, social dance and more.