From the very beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has been a teacher and proclaimer of the mercy of God. On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we include one of his most memorable insights into divine mercy, given in an interview with an Italian magazine. Mercy, he reminds us is not a license to do what we want but neither is controlled by a rigorous application of the law.
'The Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. And you have to start from the ground up.
The Church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, “This is not a sin” or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds'.
(Pope Francis, 2013 interview with La Civita Cattolica)