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Gaudium et Spes

From the homily of Pope Francis at the Mass of canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II:

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.


They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.


In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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Francis has a spiritual backbone that is very much in the Jesuit lineage.


I dare to wonder if the phrase utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice" is a veiled reference to the abuse scandals?

@Joseph S.O Leary


And I would dare to guess that the phrase refers not only to the abuse scandals specifically, but more generally to all the evils committed by the members of the Church.

Whic incidentally reminds me of this from the Pope's letter to EUGENIO SCALFARI : The Church, despite all of the sluggishness, infidelities, errors and sins that are committed and are still being committed by her members, has no other meaning or purpose than to live and witness to Jesus: he who has been sent by Abba, “to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19)."

No matter, Gaudium et Spes indeed.

I think Francis is practicing a Christlike "identification with sinners" -- perhaps as a kind of Ignatian meditation exercise -- as when he said impromptu on April 11: "I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests -- quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests -- to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," "Personally take on all the evil" echoes Paul, "God made him who knew no sin became sin for our sake" (2 Cor 5:21). 

And I, again, like your thinking, except maybe for this: "perhaps as a kind of Ignatian meditation exercise"

I think the Pope identifies with sinners not as some meditation exercise, Ignatiaon or otherwise, but because he truly sees himself as one of them, one of us, a sinner.

But, he's a sinner who also believes in "the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord," as he said in his interview with Jesuit publications, or "the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves," as he said at the end of his homily at the canonization mass.

And in that regard, I'd say he echoes not just Paul, but pretty much every disciple or every believer who strives to be one. 

Maria and Joseph -- nice combination of names :-)!

The refence that came to my mind was the evocation at Mass : "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi" in the two-fold sense of "tollere:" take up and take away. The Latin expression "tollere in crucem" is equivalent to "crucifigere."

Of course Maria is right, but I meant the "meditation exercise" as a way of putting into practice the conscious of sin and mercy she refers to, just as in Buddhism the four brahmaviharas are exercises of putting forth the energies of benevolence, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. 

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