VATICAN CITY, September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis preached on Monday that “silence, prayer” are the best response to people “who don’t have good will.” His homily comes about a week after he told reporters that he wouldn’t comment on allegations from a former Vatican diplomat that he knowingly returned a sexually predatory U.S. cardinal to a position of influence in the Church.
“With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction,” he said, the best response is “silence, prayer,” reported Vatican News. The Pope delivered his Sept. 3 homily, titled “Truth is in silence,” in the chapel of his hotel home, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Earlier in his pontificate, the Pope had been a champion of “dialogue.”
The pope invited his hearers to imitate Jesus by being silent. According to the Osservatore Romano:
“The pontiff invited [his hearers] to ask from the Lord ‘the grace to discern when we must speak and when we must be silent. And this in all of life: at work, at home, in society, in all of life. Thus we will be [better] imitators of Jesus.’”
Discussing the Gospel passage of the day, detailing how Jesus was expelled from the synagogue (Luke 4, 16-30), Francis said it made “us reflect on how we act in daily life, when there are misunderstandings and arguments” but also “it makes us understand how the Father of Lies, the Accuser, the Devil, acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people.”
Pope Francis reflected on how Jesus had come back to his childhood home of Nazareth after many travels, and the people who came to the synagogue were very interested in what he would have to say. However, Pope Francis said, “Jesus never spoke of Himself directly, but using the word of God.”
“Always, when Jesus wants to say something important, he uses the word of God; also when He wants to conquer the Devil–we think of the temptation in the desert–He uses the word of God.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the “seeds sown by the devil began to grow” in Jesus’ audience in the synagogue and that is why the people chased Jesus out of the temple.
“They weren’t people, they were a pack of wild dogs that chased Him out of the city,” the pontiff declared. “They weren’t thinking.”
But in the face of their reaction, which included an attempt to throw Jesus off a cliff, Pope Francis said, “Jesus was silent.”
The pontiff added, “This passage of the Gospel finishes like this: ‘But He, passing among them, set off.’ The dignity of Jesus [is this]: with His silence he defeats the wild pack and leaves. Because [His] hour has not yet arrived.”
“The devil had sown lies in the hearts, and Jesus was silent.”
One of the most prolific critics of the Church’s clerical sexual abuse scandal thinks that Pope Francis’ homily was a coded response to Archbishop Viganò’s allegations of corruption and cover-up in the hierarchy, allegations that implicate the Pope.
Writing in the American Conservative, Rod Dreher voiced his belief that Francis was saying that he doesn’t have to answer the allegations.
“So: the Pope believes that he should not have to answer these very serious and plausible charges made against him by the former papal nuncio because he has judged Vigano a liar,” Dreher wrote.
“This is weak. This is very weak,” the columnist continued. “Given this Pope’s recent experience with sex abuse — he called the Chilean abuse victims liars, until it was proven that the Pope’s judgment was wrong, and he apologized — he has no reasonable expectation that the public should take his word for it in such matters.”
According to Dreher’s interpretation of the homily, Viganò is the devil, “sower of lies”, and Francis is wearing “a cloak of Christlikeness.”
“In his homily today, the Pope indirectly called Vigano a liar (“had sown lies in the hearts”),” Dreher continued. “Francis makes this insult while hiding behind a tissue-thin veil of virtue. If Vigano has further documents that can rend this garment once and for all, he should come forward with them now.”
A notable ally of Francis–and a former editor of the Jesuit magazine America–has also deemed the homily an inadequate response to Archbishop Viganò’s charges.
Tweeting in response to the Crux headline “Pope Francis said Monday that to division and scandal the answer should be silence and prayer,” Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J. wrote, “I love you Francis, but that won’t work.”
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