Compassion, Not Condemnation

Like former-president Trump, Pope Francis is incredibly transparent.  Though their similarities might begin and end with this one thing, it is refreshing to witness such clear-sighted leadership.  At the same time, it is probably not enjoyable for them to be continuously criticized for it.  Pope Francis recently spoke about the criticism he receives—much, if not most, of it from the United States where freedom of speech, from D.C.’s polarized battlefields to Hollywood’s defective moral compass, gets gaslighted by social media’s uncontrollable wildfire.

Father Richard Rohr once wrote: “God and His good news get used, abused, and distorted.  He remains word instead of the Word-made-flesh.  He is argued instead of loved.  He is proven instead of shared.  He is religious structure instead of the core structure of our lives.”  Most Catholics in America are rooted in faith-based traditions that guide our thinking: human life is sacred at every age and stage; abortion is objectively morally evil; the sacrament of holy matrimony is between one man and one woman; those in civil unions should be protected with legal rights; immigrants seeking a better life ought to be given the opportunity to pursue it as did our forebears; judging and condemning others is antithetical to Christianity; we should live by the golden rule and be in communion with Christ; the Holy Spirit is our constant companion who will help us make wise decisions.  Pope Francis is very clear about these things—we try to be also.  Unfortunately, many of us who hold faith-based traditional views get criticized too, accused of being insensitive, prejudiced, and even evil, by those who succumb to polarized ideology and/or the dysfunctional moral standards that cloud and iCloud our society from coast to coast.  In beauty, truth, and goodness, we can uphold the sanctity of marriage and sanctity of life and, at the same time, show compassion to LGBT+ and individuals contemplating abortion or facing other horrific circumstances.   

The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has been one of the Pope’s chief critics.  While the network has achieved amazing feats—primarily because its foundress, Mother Angelica, was able to accomplish what other powerful church leaders could not—it often capitulates to condemnatory, polarizing, Pharisaical attitudes that reveal an ugly side of religion, and which Jesus warned us against.  Like in other social media agencies, God and His good news get used, abused, argued, and distorted there and Jesus’ message of love, mercy, and compassion gets lost.  Father Ron Rolheiser once noted that, “Becoming like Jesus is as much about having a relaxed and joyful heart as it is believing and doing the right thing; it’s as much about proper energy as it is proper truth.”  A joyful heart inculcates the energy of the Holy Spirit into the core structure of our lives.  Where Christ is that center, we evangelize by our actions more than by stating our belief, conveying our version of God’s truth, or denouncing others.

As the Pope says, it is okay to criticize him because he is a sinner.  But it is not okay to work against Christ’s core message of mercy and love.  Likewise, it is not okay to condemn because our faith was born of compassion.

6 thoughts on “Compassion, Not Condemnation

  1. Respectfully Fr. Don, you can hardly compare the phony-ness of Trump to our wonderful Pope Francis, who actually tries to unify & care for people. They are polar opposites, ESPECIALLY in transparency!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you again for a nuanced – and perhaps “relaxed” – view of what is happening with the Roman Catholic Church in America. I deeply appreciate your willingness to (1) find a way point out that Trump and EWTN have underlying value, despite my prejudices; and (2) speak what I see as Truth, to Power. My own life course prepared me with the option to re-discover and return to my Anglo-Catholic roots after several decades as a Vatican 2 Catholic, mostly in California, then with the Franciscans in Lawrence, KS. My daily prayers remain with you and other life-long Roman Catholics, including Pope Francis, who see a more inclusive picture than some of your colleagues. You (plural) have a basis for effectively sharing the Gospel with those in your congregations. The Gospel is, indeed, about something that, while lived out in our political/social/economic milieu, is much greater.

    Sincerely, Judy Carpenter



  3. Father we love reading your blogs and learn from them each time. May God bless you on this Priesthood Sunday. We are all so blessed by your Priesthood and friendship

    On Sat, Sep 25, 2021 at 10:14 AM CHARGED WITH SAINT CHARLES wrote:

    > Father Don Farnan posted: ” Like former-president Trump, Pope Francis is > incredibly transparent. Though their similarities might begin and end with > this one thing, it is refreshing to witness such clear-sighted leadership. > At the same time, it is probably not enjoyable ” >


  4. I follow your blog faithfully but you lost me today by comparing trump with Pope Francis! trump is liar to the extreme and Pope Francis is not. First of your blogs that I have not passed on to a friend.


  5. Don what ever about the Pope understanding of compassion Christ clearly reveals his compassion in today’s gospel. Compassion so cold that condones sin is not the compassion of Christ and his gospel. Stay well. Every blessing. Michael



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