Worth Reading: “The Sinner Pope”

by | Oct 1, 2013 | Uncategorized

Pope Francis courtesty Flickr user Jeffrey Bruno
Pope Francis courtesty Flickr user Jeffrey Bruno

The sinner pope.

Fortunately for yours truly, the art of shameless self promotion is alive and well in America. (No, really, look here or here or here or here – also, if I’d actually read any of those I’d no doubt be a lot better at this.) This is relevant because I’m about to tell you that an essay that I myself wrote is “worth reading.” If the art of shameless self promotion were not alive and well I’d seem like even more…  well… the opposite of humble.

Anyway, I just wrote an essay for the Washington Post that I actually do think is worth reading. Here’s why: I think a lot of people are reading Pope Francis’ latest interview with a question in the back of their minds that sounds something like this, “Pope Francis, you’re great and all, but are you going to do anything more than just talk about mercy? I mean, are any substantial changes (particularly the ones I want/am-afraid-of) going to happen?”

Those are fair questions. I mean that. They are not out of line. They are, however – in my opinion – out of order, that is, we are asking those questions first when we ought to ask them second. And, yes, now I’m going to quote myself (*sigh*):

It’s because [Pope Francis] knows himself to be a loved sinner that he is able to, again and again, throw a wrench of mercy into the gears through which we grind our world’s information. It’s not that he doesn’t care about change, or institutional reform, or theo-political structures, or the mobilization of the Catholic middle – actually, yes it is. He doesn’t care about any of those things in themselves. Or, more accurately, he only cares about them indifferently, only when the God who shows sinners mercy also cares about them first.

All this to say that Pope Francis is simply not playing by the rules of the game as we know them. 

I – quite evidently – think that’s right, and if you want to read the rest of why you can find it here. I actually do hope you like it – even if you’re reading while (rightly) labeling me a used-car-salesman-for-the-Lord.

God bless the American self-promotion machine for letting me hide behind it, at least for today.


Pope Francis image courtesy Flickr user Jeffrey Bruno.


Paddy Gilger, SJ

pgilgersj@thejesuitpost.org   /   @paddygilgersj   /   All posts by Paddy