The Conclave Begins

The Conclave Begins
Archbishop Jose Gomez

In last weeks edition of “The Tidings” which is the Los Angeles archdiocese weekly newspaper, Cardinal Jose H. Gomez wrote an article entitled, The Force of Forgiveness.  In this Article, Cardinal Gomez makes the point that it is really time for forgiveness at all levels.  When I was reading the article, I was immediately drawn to the fact that the article seems to be addressing the Church scandals of the past few years without really ever addressing them head on.  They are alluded to in a couple of passages, but never with the full intent of taking them on.

As I continued reading, I could not help but wonder whether this had anything to do with the Papal Conclave which started yesterday morning.  Was Cardinal Garcia reflecting on some of his thoughts about the church in the past ten years while in Rome trying to decide how this vote will guide the church into the future.

By the time you read this, a new pope may in fact be chosen, although I doubt it.  I think this is going to be a long Conclave as there are many issues which face the church at this time.  I am a Catholic and will always be one, but during the past ten years many mistakes were indeed made by the hierarchy of the church.  Is it a time for forgiveness as Garcia suggests or is it a time for reckoning and will the new Pope have to deal with the past or will he just guide the church into the future?  These are hard questions but must be addressed by all Catholics.

I pray that these questions are answered in the next few months and years after the Conclave is concluded.  I also pray that the Bishops have the guidance of the Holy Spirit while they are casting their votes in the next few days.

Here is a full copy of Gomez’s column because I really think it’s worth a read.

We need to become better at forgiveness.
That is one of the messages we hear in our Gospel readings as we approach the half-way point of this holy season of Lent.

In one of the Gospels this week, St. Peter asks Jesus how many times he has to forgive someone. And Jesus tells him, “Seventy times seven times.” In other words, every time. And the Gospel for this coming Sunday is the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is a beautiful lesson in God’s mercy and forgiveness.

This is a lesson that we all need to learn more and more.

We ask God for this grace every day in the prayer that Jesus taught us — Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

But how hard it is for us to live these words! How easy it becomes for us to fall into critical judgments of others.

It is true we can find a lot that deserves criticism. There are many sinners and many scandals and injustices in our world.

This was true also in Jesus’ time. But he came to show us a different way. And it is urgent these days that we try harder to live this different way of Jesus Christ.

Our culture has become a culture of complaint and righteous anger — where people are quick to condemn and quick to judge. Our culture has become a culture of no forgiveness.

We have to watch out that we don’t get caught up in this. Our Christian faith should always make us different. We have to try to be people of pardon and peace. People of mercy and forgiveness.

God’s mercy and forgiveness are the essential message of the Gospel. Jesus came “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,” the Gospel tells us.

Jesus was very clear — the mercy we seek from God must be the mercy that we show to others.

All of us stand in need of God’s mercy. This is the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is God’s school of love, where we experience his mercy.

In the new evangelization of this culture, we are called to make mercy and forgiveness our message and our witness to the world.

The world is looking for Jesus Christ. And when people go looking for him, they are going to turn naturally to those of us who say we know him. To those of us who say we believe in Jesus and live according to his Word and his example.

What do they find when they look at us? Do they see Jesus? Do they find a reflection of God’s own mercy and forgiveness?Conclave

Lent is a time for us to be honest with ourselves. It’s easy to see the faults of others. But it’s also easy to forget how often we disappoint God by our own lack of love, by our own failures to be faithful.

In our Christian lives we are always stretching towards Jesus and the holiness he calls us to. And we know that we fall down all the time.

But every time we fail, we have forgiveness. God’s mercy is always there for us. His judgments are kind. They are the judgments of a Father who loves us.

Can we say the same thing about our own judgments? About our thoughts and words about those who are in our lives or in the news?

We will bring more people to Jesus through our mercy and forgiveness than through our critical judgments — no matter how right we might be and no matter how wrong the other person might be.

To forgive is to make an act of faith. When we forgive, we aren’t forgetting or excusing the sins of the past. By our forgiveness, we are saying that we believe God is the only judge.

Our task as Christians is not to judge. Jesus said, Judge not and you will not be judged (Luke 6: 37). He calls us to forgive the sinner and to repair the damage done by his sin. We are called to bring sinners to God, to right the wrongs they have committed, and to heal the wounds and divisions they have caused.

So this week, as we continue to pray for our Church and our new Pope, let us pray for the grace to be people of true mercy and forgiveness.

We need to remember that we are all sinners, some of us worse than others. But all of us stand in need of God’s mercy. This is the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is God’s school of love, where we experience his mercy, which is the mercy he wants us to extend to others.

So let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of Mercy and the Refuge of Sinners, to help us be people of forgiveness who are building a society of merciful love and justice.

Do you believe these words have some meaning beyond their literal meaning?  Is this a column about the Conclave?  What do you think?

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2 Responses to "The Conclave Begins"

  1. What struck me about the Cardinal’s article, which he completely ignored, is that portion of the Lord’s prayer, which says forgive us our trsspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. What sins did he confess? What also comes to mind is Christ telling his disciples when he was referring to a child that it would be better for a millstone to be placed around ones neck and thrown into the ocean than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. This article by a member of the Catholic clergy rings hollow asking believers to forgive in light of the monstrous Church scandals by members of the clergy who either molested children, covered up the crimes or looked the other way. Frankly the article would have been better received if Cardinal Gomez began the article repententing for his sins and the sins of the Catholic clergy, asking for forgiveness and admitting that before God’s eyes we are all sinners; and it is only by the blood of Jesus, our acknowledgement that we are sinners in need of God’s grace and that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior that we are saved. The article, to me, smacked of a pious admonition to forgive when the Catholic clergy has so much for which to be forgiven. One also could say Cardinal Gomez is pointing to a speck in someone else’s eye yet ignoring the plank in his own eye. Jesus also pointed to the tax collector with head down pounding his chest asking God for forgiveness as justified before God, and not the Pharisee’s self-righteous prayer. All of us, clergy and parishioner not only need to be better at forgiveness but better at recognizing that we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. We all, clergy and parishioner, need to humble ourselves before a Holy and Righteous God.

  2. The hardest thing we ever do is tell the “hard truth to power”, a loved one, a friend or our cherished relationships, all of whom will be angered, thus our fear comes from the horror of rejection or of not being loved anymore. The honest true “friends” will ultimately recognize fallibly and forgive. The mendacities of the prevaricators are never forgiven.

    Wisdom comes from within “The church is 200 years out of date. Why don’t we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?” – Cardinal Carlo Martini

    The sexual hypocrisy of many Roman Catholic clergy prevails from the very top of the Vatican bureaucracy to local dioceses and parishes where bishops and priests do not believe what they teach; and equally distressing, some bishops and priests are involved in sexual liaisons’ with adult women or men, other clerics and even with minors. These facts too demand serious and immediate attention and reform.

    No one says that answers to sexual ethics are easy or apparent.

    That is why scholars like Sr. Margaret Farley RSM, Sister Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., Ph.D. is an ethicist and retired professor who taught Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School from 1971 to 2007, should be listened to and dialogued with rather than ostracized and condemned.

    I, (A.W. Richard Sipe, please research this gentlemen’s credentials, they are impeccable), will stand by some basic assertions:

    1.) Masturbation is not intrinsically evil.
    2.) Contraception is not intrinsically evil either inside or outside of marriage.
    3.) Certainly condoms should be used if effective in avoiding disease, especially the HIV virus.
    4.) Gay orientation is not an intrinsic disorder.
    5.) Homosexual love is not intrinsically evil.
    6.) Marriage between same-sex partners is not intrinsically evil.
    7.) Neither scripture nor theology unalterably dictates that women are intrinsically disqualified from the sacrament of priestly ordination.
    8.) There is no question that sexual activity by a bishop or priest with a minor is criminal.
    9.) A bishop or superior who hides a cleric who abuses minors or conceals his behavior is a criminal.

    Now lets get down to some serious discussion and dismiss the apodictic stance that sex is intrinsically evil and current church teaching is unalterable.

    Why are we concerned followers of Jesus—and priests—afraid to discuss human realities? A.W.R.S.

    by A.W. Richard Sipe
    September 13, 2012

    Will the good Archbishop José Horacio Gómez articulate his position on these issues, then ask for forgiveness?


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