When the world sees him as a mini-God who can not fail or an immortal who doesn’t need help, he sees himself differently. In his first official book published as Pope, and titled “The Name of God is Mercy,” 79 year-old Argentine-born Pope Francis, made it known that he is mere human when he describes himself as “a sinner” in need of God’s mercy. The desire to reach out to souls who are looking for the meaning in life, a road to peace and reconciliation, and also the healing of physical and spiritual wounds, led the pope to write the book, “The Name of God is Mercy.”
In this book, Pope Francis chose to focus on the subject closest to his heart, mercy, which has long been the cornerstone of his faith and is now the central teaching of his papacy. He addresses all humanity in an intimate and personal dialogue. The book also urges the Catholic Church to focus on its mission as a grassroots, hands-on organisation. “The Name of God is Mercy” has already been published in 86 countries within 12 hours of publication and so far a series of interviews with the Pope Francis has been recorded.
In extracts 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.
“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.”
In a conversation with veteran Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli, Francis explains through memories from his youth and moving anecdotes from his experiences as a pastor as his reasons for proclaiming a Holy Year of Mercy. He reiterates that the Church cannot close the door on anyone. On the contrary, its duty is to find its way into the consciousness of people so that they can assume responsibility for, and move away from, the bad things they have done.
For people who already count themselves among the ranks of the just, Francis counsels, Even the Pope is a man who needs the mercy of God. He also talks of 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.”
Turning to the jubilee year he launched on December 8, whose theme is divine mercy, the pope says, “The church condemns sin, because it has to tell the truth: this is a sin. But at the same time, it embraces the sinner who acknowledges what he is.”
“I hope that the jubilee will show the face of a Church which is rediscovering the womb of mercy,” Francis added.
A Church that goes out into the world… a field hospital whose characteristic is to spring up wherever there’s fighting. Not some elaborate structure, kitted out with everything… (but) a mobile structure, for saving (people), for fast intervention.