While visiting the Philippines last month, Pope Francis met with former street children. One, a young girl, asked Pope Francis why God allows this suffering to happen to innocent children. It is a cry that has been raised everywhere and through the ages, by the very young, the very old and everyone in between. In fact, it is a question I have uttered myself and I have no doubt that everyone reading this has also asked the same question at some point. Moreover, from the Book of Job through the writings of many, many saints and theologians, and popes themselves, Catholics have had the reasons explained in various ways, all leading to the basic answer that God permits these things so that a greater good can come from them.
This was another of those Pope Francis moments, where he appears to not hold to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, but it was also more disappointing because this is one of the fundamental existential questions that the Church has answered through the ages. I didn’t expect him to give a theological discourse right there when he gave her a hug. However, he might have given the basic answer and then pointed out her own life as it was now, no longer on the street, well fed and dressed and loved, with her whole future before her. He might have even suggested that through this experience her entrance to Heaven might have been made easier than others who had not suffered in this life as she and others like her did. But he didn’t say anything like that. Instead he offered this wisdom:
“Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer?” the Pope asked in return.
“When the heart is unable to answer itself and cry, then we can understand,” he said.
The pontiff then called on the youth to learn how to weep.
“I invite each one of you here to ask yourselves, have I learned how to weep, how to cry? Have I learned to weep for somebody who has left to one side? Have I learned to weep for someone who has a drug problem? Have I learned to weep for someone who suffered abuse?”
“This is the first thing I’d like to say: Let’s learn how to weep…Let us learn, really learn how to weep, how to cry,” the Pope further said.
Even Jesus, he said, cried for his dead friend and for a family, who lost a child.
“If you don’t learn how to cry, you can’t be good Christians. This is a challenge,” the Pope said.
Aside from learning how to weep, the pontiff also called on the youth to learn how to love.
Aside from learning how to weep, the pontiff posed another challenge to the youth – and that is the challenge of love.
“You might ask me, Father, how do we become saints? It is another challenge. It is the challenge of love, which is the most important subject you have to learn in the university,” he said.
“What is the most important lesson you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. And this is the challenge that life offers you, to learn how to love.”
She stumped him. This was the best his agile mind could come up with, which was not an answer at all, but a deflection and a rambling of words that showed maybe, somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind that he has not accessed in quite some time, he had the answer as he says that she might ask how we become saints. It was like one of those government bureaucrats in response to a pointed question from a committee chairman making a lot of words that sound like some sort of substance but prove to be no answer at all and nothing more than a lot of hot air. We can expect that from those people in those situations, but not the pope in this one. There is no answer, he said.
Later, at a Mass, he had another chance to expound on an answer to her question in his homily. He then said this:
“She is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer and she wasn’t even able to express it in words but in tears,” the 78-year-old pope told the crowd. Pope Francis later responded in his homily that it took Glyzelle “to ask a question to which there is no answer … Why do children suffer?” The Pope was so moved by the question that he abandoned a prepared Homily.
He exhorted people to follow Glyzelle’s example and courage, “to learn to weep,” noting that “it was only when Jesus cried that he learned what was going on in our lives.”
“Certain realities in life, we only see through eyes that are cleansed by our tears,” he said.
. . .
Pope Francis told the throng at UST that “realities are superior to ideas,” and, constantly turning back to Glyzelle’s question, said, “your realities are superior to the paper in front of me.”
There is no answer, said the Pope. Nope, no answer. And the ideas are inferior to the realities. The Faith is nothing more than abstract ideas on paper and crumble when confronted with “realities.”
Where were his handlers on this? Wasn’t there one Catholic among them, maybe even a bishop or cardinal, who could have pulled him aside and reminded him of the answers provided by sound Catholic doctrine which have been proven to be realities over and over again through the ages? If there was, he or she didn’t get to him before he continued his revelation in his homily of his lack of real Catholic Faith.
Since then, none of the Catholic media has raised this glaring and blatant contradiction of the True Faith by the head of the Church. If someone knows of it, please share it. Those same media outlets that never fail to praise and fawn over his profound humbleness and get all excited about how he’s going to
undermine change the Faith missed a great opportunity to show how he does so right before their eyes. And what about the secular press that doesn’t miss a chance to express its disdain for the Faith when it is actually believed? They missed the best opportunity to undermine the Faith of millions by quoting his humbleness and pointing out that even he doesn’t believe that stuff.
Yet, some Catholics have noticed. They are writing on their blogs, as I am. But the vast majority that were paying attention only comment on how touching it was that the pope hugged the crying child, and did not notice what he said and did not say. That’s the state of the Church today in most places: no knowledge of the Faith coupled with sentimentality and emotion. Truly the blind leading the blind. Oh, God, why do you make us suffer so?
I’m waiting for the greater good that will come from this, and I pray it is sooner than later.