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In the Footsteps of Saint Peter

prolifeThere have been some remarkable occurrences in the Catholic Church in recent days. And while numerous articles have been written about them, a couple of stunning realities occur to me based on the identity and invaluable worth of a single human being.

These events have affirmed once again that God is in charge of the Church, the world, and His children from creation to death. If this were not so, today’s historic events might have gone quite differently.

The resignation, or abdication as some writers put it, of Pope Benedict XVI came as a shock to many. I believe he did what was right for the sake of the Barque of Peter (the Church), rather than for himself. You see, in Catholic tradition, the Church is defined as a ship—with Christ as her sail, the pope as her pilot, and the word of God as her rudder. When the pilot perceives that it is time for him to take leave of his mission, the most humble thing he can do is exactly what Pope Benedict XVI did do. We thank God for his humility.

In the wake of his departure and the inevitability of a papal conclave, the media went wild. There was even speculation that the next pope might be an American!

But now we know that indeed the Holy Spirit was active during that conclave and that the Church now has a new pilot who is, in every sense of the word, a holy man. No, he isn’t an American, but that only goes to prove that, while the American media may be able to select a United States president by foisting its bias on an unsuspecting or perhaps ignorant public, that same media is mincemeat when the Holy Spirit is running the show.

In the wake of our new pope’s election, we are awed by the words, the life, and the actions of this humble man. Our new pope, Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, is a man of the people, an advocate for the poor, and a priest whose commitment to serve the Church and her doctrine is undeniable.

For example, Pope Francis has referred to abortion as the “death penalty” for the least of our brothers and sisters. He addressed the subject of abortion in his 2011 book Sobre Cielo y Tierra (On Heaven and Earth), a series of conversations with an Argentinian rabbi. An unofficial translation by BioEdge quotes a section of the book:

The moral problem of abortion is of a pre-religious nature because the genetic code is written in a person at the moment of conception [creation]. A human being is there. I separate the topic of abortion from any specifically religious notions. It is a scientific problem. Not to allow the further development of a being which already has all the genetic code of a human being is not ethical. The right to life is the first among human rights. To abort a child is to kill someone who cannot defend himself.

This straightforward description of why abortion violates the dignity of a human being whose identity is provable by science whether sexually or asexually reproduced, without reference to religious tenets, exposes the depth of our new pope’s reflections on the value of every innocent person.

In 2007, on behalf of the bishops of Latin America, he presented the Aparecida Document, which dealt with the situation of the Church in Latin America. Approved by Pope Benedict XVI in the summer of 2007, this document clearly stated the consequences of supporting abortion—that Holy Communion would be disallowed for anyone, including politicians, who facilitate this act. Paragraph 436 states: “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

So much more could be said, and undoubtedly will be, about this holy man, this successor to St. Peter, who is now leading the Catholic Church. But above all else, the most fundamental truth is that which Pope Francis uttered in his first sermon, “When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.”

Indeed, that is what separates justice from chaos, civility from barbarism, and life from death.


  • SusanF

    excellent article – but one exception: Pope Francis is an American, just not from the US. 🙂

  • wyliereader

    I love what he has said, but am so disturbed that Biden and Pelosi were allowed to receive the Eucharist at his papal Mass. What are we to think?

    • GuitarGramma

      Canon law is very specific that only if he is absolutely certain that a communicant has not repented of mortal sin, the priest is to withhold communion.
      We should also assume that Pope Francis is unfamiliar with US politics, and wouldn’t know the extent to which these two promote abortion rights.
      Then we should think charitably. Did Pope Francis himself give communion to Vice President Biden and Speaker Pelosi? Or was it someone who may have had no idea who they are?
      Then let us pray that our Holy Father helps to end the scandal of pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians the world around.

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    Essentially this is a great article, I also had some problems.

    But let us focus on one point. We read here the pope presented a document which stated: “this document clearly stated the consequences of supporting abortion—that Holy Communion would be disallowed for anyone, including politicians, who facilitate t his act. Paragraph 436 states: “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

    So are the popes and the Roman authorities hypocrites or cowards to allow people such as Mr Biden and Ms Pelosi to receive communion at the installation Mass.

    First of all it is not my responsibility or ability to make a judgement about any of these issues. Only God can judge. Whether the pope or Mr Biden is a sinner or a
    saint is not my decision or that of the author of this article. The pope or the Vatican did not invite to the Mass all those attending. Mr Mugabe was not invited, but he turned up.

    I am an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and I would not refuse communion to anyone.

    In our Church there is an inscription “All are welcome in this place”. I also read “I rejoiced when I heard them say let us go into God’s house”. I am a sinner,
    I know that, but I receive Communion. Jesus himself ate with sinners.

    So good on
    you, Francis. You are OK. Show charity and welcome. Do not mind the begrudges. All will be well

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    The pope and the Vatican must be pretty dim if they did not know where
    Biden and Pelosi stand on abortion and/or they did not know who they were when
    they went to receive communion.

    The message is clear about who should be refused communion. It is not what one says but what one does that counts. If a politician advocating abortion goes up for communion do whjat what the pope did and give communion. Leave judgements to God.

    The next time anyone suggests communion should be refused to people let
    them remember what the pope did.