Pope Francis and Bishop Zanchetta

My take on this set of news stories, the latest of which is here, is that Pope Francis is acting with mercy. He has met with Bishop Zanchetta, may have heard his confession, and may consider him to be repentant from past sins. The Pontiff at one point moved Zanchetta to an office in the Vatican, perhaps to help him avoid a repeat of past transgressions. The job was newly-created just for him, and would allow the Pontiff to keep an eye on him, and help him remain repentant.

Some say that Zanchetta’s sins are more extensive than originally reported. I can’t be the judge over such stories, that have not been subjected to due process yet. The latest story is that Zanchetta is attending a retreat with the Pope. This tends to support my theory that the Pope is helping him with repentance.

But the internet is crying out for blood. The internet crowd judges harshly, admits no due process of law, considers all accusations of a sensational nature to be certainly true, and wishes for the harshest punishment. And there seems to be no acknowledgement that repentance has a role in all this.

[John 8]
{8:3} Now the scribes and Pharisees brought forward a woman caught in adultery, and they stood her in front of them.
{8:4} And they said to him: “Teacher, this woman was just now caught in adultery.
{8:5} And in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a one. Therefore, what do you say?”
{8:6} But they were saying this to test him, so that they might be able to accuse him. Then Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the earth.
{8:7} And then, when they persevered in questioning him, he stood upright and said to them, “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”
{8:8} And bending down again, he wrote on the earth.
{8:9} But upon hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, with the woman standing in front of him.
{8:10} Then Jesus, raising himself up, said to her: “Woman, where are those who accused you? Has no one condemned you?”
{8:11} And she said, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus said: “Neither will I condemn you. Go, and now do not choose to sin anymore.”

The internet crowd, including many Catholics, is not following Jesus’ example. They condemn harshly, without due process. They want the most severe punishment.

They even want all gay clergy to be considered guilty before they have done anything. The suggestion that all gay clergy be removed is contrary to justice as well as mercy. If a priest serves the Church well, in celibacy, then why remove him?

The Pope should be merciful to everyone.

However, Bishop Zanchetta is accused of serious crimes, and so he must be subject to a judgment in a court of law. I’m not suggesting exempting him, even if he is repentant, from answering the accusations against him. But I also don’t assume that every accusation is true.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian
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