19 January, 2015

Francis struggles to answer crying girl's question about suffering | National Catholic Reporter

The NCR is showing its prejudice by describing Pope Francis's response to this question as a 'struggle'. It's evident that he didn't struggle but, in fact, used who used this simple question to great catechetical advantage.

Simply put, he used the suffering in that girl's life to highlight our shared responsibility for them. Imagine, he suggested if we were so moved by compassion for her situation that we eliminated all human injustice from the world, leaving only the natural elements of creation to bring suffering into anyone's life. Imagine how much better life would be not only for that crying child before him, but for all of us as well if we could achieve such an end? In saying this, he challenges the premise of her question that God is the cause of her suffering and pain. By pointing out that it has been our lack of concern, compassion, and commitment that has multiplied her initial injury many times over, he reduces God's responsibility for her current state.  

Pope Francis did acknowledge that even this residual culpability of God for her suffering is difficult to reconcile with a belief in the existence of an all-loving God. In saying this, he is repeating an oft-used aphorism that faith is taking a step into the darkness. That faith 'lights our way' when confronting a mystery as the existence of suffering that is beyond our human capacity to fully comprehend. In this instance, we lack the capacity to see the events of our life from God's perspective which means we cannot perceive that how our suffering might indeed be for the good of all. We lack the requisite perspective needed to assess the good or evil inherent in human suffering when it is caused by non-human agents. We can use reason to aid us in such cases, (the 'Butterfly Effect' applied to salvation economy works here) but ultimately as creatures ourselves, there will always be questions beyond our comprehension where we have no choice but to walk by the light of faith, as well as reason. Therefore, he concluded it would be better to work to improve our response to addressing the suffering of others,  rather than worrying about issues that are beyond our purview to comprehend. 

That sure didn't sound like a struggling response to me. Would that every priest could be as adept at using such situations to such good effect as Pope Francis did here. We might even succeed in making the Kingdom of God a little more present in our times if we could all 'struggle' as well as our Pope in answering life's difficult questions!

Francis struggles to answer crying girl's question about suffering | National Catholic Reporter

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