Pope Francis has admitted not having a perfect answer to a Jesuit priest who asked him about the Gospel call to “love your enemies” in the context of sexual abusers.
During his apostolic journey to Hungary last month, the pontiff met with 32 Jesuits for a frank interview at the country’s apostolic nunciature.
“The Gospel asks us to love, but how can we love people who have suffered abuse and their abusers at the same time?” a Jesuit asked the pope. “God loves everyone. He loves them too. But what about us?”
The question is a reference to the biblical passage Matthew 5:44 – part of the Sermon on the Mount – in which Jesus says: “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.”
BIDEN ADMINISTRATOR BACKS BACK IN BATTLE FOR THE CANDLE OF THE CHAPEL OF THE CATHOLIC HOSPITAL
The Jesuit continued his question: “Without ever glossing over anything, of course, how do we love abusers? I would like to offer the compassion and love that the Gospel asks for everyone, even the enemy. But how is that possible?”
The pontiff admitted the question was a difficult one, saying feelings of “disgust” can drive a well-meaning person to rage.
The exchange was published on Tuesday in the Italian publication La Civiltà Cattolica.
VERMONT CATHOLIC SCHOOL CHANGES NAME OF BISHOP WHO LEADED DIOCESE DURING ‘UNTHINKABLE ABUSE’
“It’s not easy at all,” said the pontiff. “Today we understand that the reality of abuse is very broad: there is sexual abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, abuse of migrants. You refer to sexual abuse. ? Yes, they too are children of God.
He continued: “But how can you love them? It’s a powerful question. The aggressor must be condemned, yes, but as a brother. Condemning him must be understood as an act of charity. There is a logic, a way to love the enemy who also expresses himself in this way. And it is not easy to understand and live. The aggressor is an enemy.”
Pope Francis said the difficulty in living Jesus’ command in the Sermon on the Mount is due to human empathy and the desire to protect the vulnerable.
“Each of us feels this because we sympathize with the suffering of the abused,” Pope Francis said. “When you hear what abuse leaves in the hearts of abused people, the impression you get is very strong. Even talking to the abuser involves disgust; it’s not easy.”
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FOX NEWS APP
He concluded, “But they are also God’s children. They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care. How can we provide that? No, it’s not easy. You’re right.”