“God’s name is Mercy” is the title of the interview-book by the Vatican correspondent of La Stampa, Andrea Tornielli (Piemme Mondadori editions), which has been presented this morning in Rome, at the Augustinian Institute, in the presence of the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the actor Roberto Benigni and the Chinese inmate from the Padua prison, Zhang Agostino Jianquing, during a discussion moderated by the Vatican spokesman, father Federico Lombardi, Sj.
“This book opens doors and wants to keep them open,” the cardinal Parolin said. For the Pope, the Cardinal added, “acknowledging our sins is a grace,” because the Church “condemns sin” but “embraces the sinner who acknowledges he is a sinner”. “Mercy has also affect also society, politics, and relations between the States.”
From the interview with Pope Francis it comes out that mercy – which is the name and the quality of God par excellence in the three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), you shall find the key to the papal ministry of Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio. As to “the centrality of Mercy, which represent Jesus most important message in my opinion – the Pontiff told a journalist -, I can say that it has grown slowly in my priestly life, as the result of my experience as a confessor, from the many positive and beautiful stories I have learned”.
“Who am I to judge?” is the most frequently pronounced phrase by the Holy Father during his almost three years of pontificate, which means the merciful love of God. Mercy, “one’s heart being with the poor, the means ‘God’s privileged love for those who suffer, for the weak and for those abandoned by men and, sometimes, even by love for themselves. It is generous and selfless love. It is a “new beginning”. “If we take a step towards God, or have at least the desire to do so.” Unfortunately, however, the Pope says, “we have lost our sense of sin” as well as “faith in the existence of someone who can save us, welcome us and help us to stand up”.
For Francis the “revolutionary man”, “life is compassion, love, and forgiveness is the basis of his pontificate,” Benigni said at the presentation.” “Mercy is the greatest justice; it does not delete, corrupts or abolish it, it goes beyond “. “It is not a virtue sitting on an armchair, it does not stand still a second, but reaches out to the poor and to the sinners.” Also this book, said the comedian who is also an intellectual of the people, “raises our hearts without watering down our brain.”
Mercy means the joy of faith, even in pain, like resurrection from the suffering of the sin, and this is, according to Benigni, ” Christianity’s giant secret, its constituent”. “We must beware those who are unhappy – he warns -. Love happy and joyous people who are close to God. “Jesus’ first miracle in the Gospel of Mark, in fact, is the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law: “immediately after she waited on them, Jesus tasted the joys of life.”
The Pope answers also the question about the admission to the sacrament of the Eucharist of the divorced and remarried, the most controversial issue discussed during the Synod on the family. On the subject, the Pope brought up also a familiar experience. “I have a niece who married civilly a man before he was able to obtain the process of matrimonial nullity. They wanted to get married, they loved each other, wanted children, they had three of them. The civil court awarded him also the custody of the children he had had from his first marriage. This man was so religious that every Sunday, when he went to Church, he went to confess and told the priest: ‘I know you cannot absolve me, but I have sinned, please give me your blessing’. This is a religiously formed man who needs God’s mercy”.
To the prisoners of Palmasola, in Bolivia, “he reminded that Saint Peter and Saint Paul were imprisoned.” And, that “if a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will,” the Pope says: “who am I to judge them?”. “First of all I prefer people referring to them as ‘homosexuals’ – the Pope continues in the book-interview -: the person comes before anything else, with their entirety and dignity. And a person cannot be defined only by their sexual orientation: do not forget that we are all creatures loved by God, recipients of His infinite love.”