It was the quote heard ’round the world. NBC News is running with a story about Pope Francis’ headline-making comment on homosexuality, “Who am I to judge?” calling it “The Pope’s Most Powerful Phrase in 2013”. Ignoring the fact that this off-the-cuff observation has been blown out of proportion and taken out of context to embarrassing levels, it is also being presented by the media as a monumental shift in “tone” for the papacy which, we are supposed to believe, was previously concerned solely with judging and condemning.
If reporters did their homework, they’d find that judgement of individuals has never been part of the Church’s teaching or modus operandi. Writing about Judas Iscariot, the traitor apostle, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church that, “Even though he went on to hang himself, it is not up to us to judge his gesture, substituting ourselves for the infinitely merciful and just God.” Think about that. If there’s anyone in human history people are most likely going to assume went to hell, it is probably Judas. But despite all the evidence, the pope is reminding us that, even regarding someone as consequential as Judas, who sold Christ for silver, we simply cannot judge his ultimate fate. It is not our role.
While Benedict’s observation is more eloquently stated than that of Francis, both papal observations are basically stating the same idea: God is the only, final and ultimate Judge of souls, and no one else.
Which begs the question: Are reporters just completely ignorant and lazy? Or, is there something else afoot…say, an agenda?