Pope Francis, the leader of the world church, has made a very striking statement which has stirred various debates in Christendom.
Pope Francis describes himself as “a sinner” in need of God’s mercy. The Papa made the striking declaration in an upcoming book where he also urged the Catholic church to focus on its mission as a grassroots, hands-on organisation.
The first book of his papacy, “The Name of God is Mercy,” published on Tuesday in 86 countries, comprises a series of interviews, some of them highly personal, with the 79-year-old Argentine-born pope.
According to an extract from the French-language edition provided to AFP by the French publisher Laffont, the pope calls himself “a man who is in need of God’s mercy.”
Expounding on the notion of forgiveness, the pope — a frequent visitor to prisons — refers to his “special relationship” with convicts.
Francis said: “I have always been very much attached to them, precisely because of the awareness that I have of being a sinner,” Francis says, according to AFP’s translation of the extracts.
“Every time I cross the doorway of a prison, I always ask myself, ‘Why are they are here, and not me?’ I should be here, I should deserve to be here. Their fall could have been mine. I don’t feel superior to those in front of me,” Francis said.
While speaking on shame at an interview with Andrea Tornielli, the Pope spoke about the power of “shame,” describing it as guidance from God for providing a moral path.
“Shame is a grace: When we feel God’s mercy, we really are ashamed of ourselves. Despite all our past of wretchedness and sin, God remains faithful to us and raises us up,” the Vicar said.
The Pope concluded by re-emphasizing that the church abhors sin but opens its arms to sinners, in a bid to help them find mercy.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis is moving to canonize a hundred Christians as saints for refusing to convert to Hinduism at the point of death.