Pope Francis recommends silence before forces of scandal and division

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 29 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 29 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) 

During his homily at his first morning Mass at Santa Marta since the summer break, Pope Francis recommended “silence and prayer” when one is confronted “with people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: silence, prayer.”

His remarks on Sept. 3 are being viewed as his first public response to the 11-page letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States. Many have sought to get Francis or the Vatican to respond to Archbishop Viganò’s serious allegations that as pope he covered up the multiple abuses of the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after the former-nuncio said he told Pope Francis about these offenses in a private audience on June 23, 2013.

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“The truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy," Pope Francis said in his homily.

The archbishop also alleged that Francis had lifted what are now being described as “private” sanctions alleged to have been imposed on Archbishop McCarrick by Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010. Without providing evidence for these charges, Archbishop Viganò called for the pope’s resignation.

But the pope only urged journalists to look into the archbishop’s allegations and has so far refused to comment further.

“The truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy," Pope Francis said in his homily. He was commenting on the Gospel story of the day from Luke that describes how Jesus reacted when he returned to Nazareth and met with opposition from his former neighbors after commenting on a passage from the prophet Isaiah.

Even in a family, Pope Francis said, there are times when a discussion of politics or sports or money escalates into a truly destructive argument; "in these discussions in which you see the devil is there and wants to destroy—silence. Have your say, then keep quiet.”

“With his silence,” he said, Jesus wins against “the wild dogs”; he wins against “the devil” that “sowed lies in the heart.”

He said the Gospel story helps us “to reflect how to act in daily life, when there are misunderstandings” and “to understand how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil, acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people.”

He recalled Jesus’ silent composure on that occasion, when people wanted him to do miracles as he had done elsewhere, but when he chose instead to comment on the prophet’s words and they got furious and the atmosphere quickly changed “from peace to war.” Jesus adopted “silence” when confronted with the devil.

Pope Francis said that those who attacked Jesus “were not persons, they were a pack of wild dogs that threw him out of the city. They did not reason. They shouted. Jesus stayed silent. They took him to the top of the mountain to throw him down, but he passed through their midst and went away.”

“With his silence,” he said, Jesus wins against “the wild dogs”; he wins against “the devil” that “sowed lies in the heart.”

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ dignity shines through “this silence that triumphs” over his attackers, as it would also on Good Friday when they shouted “crucify him!” after praising him on Palm Sunday.

He acknowledged that what Jesus did is not easy, but “silence wins, through the Cross.” He emphasized that “the dignity of the Christian is anchored in the power of God.”

Pope Francis concluded by praying,“May the Lord give us the grace to discern when we should speak and when we should stay silent. This applies to every part of life: to work, at home, in society.”

In this way, he said, “we will be closer imitators of Jesus.”

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John Chuchman
2 months 1 week ago

The mouse being stepped on by the elephant does not appreciate your neutrality.

Daniel Montiel
2 months 1 week ago

I'm curious why you're pretending those who might follow (or scorn) Francis' advice are "neutral".
Why play into the fancy that just because someone bites their lip and keeps opinions private that they suddenly now *have* no opinions, positions, or preferred victors?

Paula Swain
2 months 1 week ago

It has nothing to do with victory. It is about doing the right thing. For over seven decades the men who run our Church hierarchy have preached to us to pray for healing, pray for the abusers, pray for the hierarchy. Where has that gotten us? More and more abuse, more and more abuse covered up. And now this pope, this pope in whom we placed our hopes and dreams for honesty, openness and reform has betrayed us. Even Pope Francis is preaching for us to "pray and be silent". The cardinals and bishops who covered up the abuse are still on the pulpit, the Church coffers that the faithful filled with great sacrifice are being used to pay for the abuse while the abusers are moved around to continue abusing. THAT is the Devil at
work and the Devil is using Pope Francis.

Carlos Poblet
2 months 1 week ago

Thank you for sharing what is so self-evident that only wifull ignorance can argue against. Francis has to resign. He is an imposter

Jong Ricafort
2 months 1 week ago

Carlos Poblet
Better read Matthew12:37
and ponder 8th commandments.
An attack on Pope Francis the Vicar of Christ is a direct attack on Jesus Himself.
(Acts9:4)
"Carlos,carlos why are you persecuting me?"
VRS!3x

Stan Zorin
2 months ago

@ Jong Ricafort
A - A Pope can be rebuked and corrected. See the Gospels.
B - A Pope who dismantles the deposit of Faith is NOT a Pope and can be deposed.

Hilde W
2 months 1 week ago

I wonder whether those shouting for the Pope’s resignation have bothered to carefully read Vigano’s accusations?
Vigano wrote that, when he was asked by the newly elected Pope Francis on 23 June 2013 what Cardinal McCarrick was like, he told the Pope that McCarrick “corrupted generations of seminarians and priests”. This wording is often used in Catholic circles to refer to unorthodox doctrinal teaching. By his own account, Vigano's words to Pope Francis made no mention of sexual abuse. And by his own account, Vigano did not clarify his misleading statement to the Pope. And yet Vigano goes on to claim that Pope Francis knew from that conversation on 23 June 2013 that “McCarrick was a serial predator”!? How does the latter logically follow from what Vigano says he told the Pope?
Pope Francis has said that Vigano’s letter speaks for itself. Indeed, Vigano’s own words prove that he failed in his duty as Nuncio to properly inform the newly elected Pope, in unambiguous terms, of the very grave allegations against McCarrick. In addition, the many speculations in Vigano’s letter regarding the Pope’s motives and intentions demonstrate that Vigano somehow believes himself to be able to read another person’s mind. The nature of these speculations exposes Vigano as a complex person full of suspicion and intrigue, consumed by hostility against our (and his) Holy Father.

gerald nichols
2 months ago

The Pope hasn't been attacked as some assert; he has been accused. For the Pope, and some following him, to appropriate scripture verses and misuse them to infer Jesus would approve the Pope's silence now seems blasphemous to me, and maybe worse.

Tim O'Leary
2 months 1 week ago

Pope Francis talks off-the-cuff all the time about everything. So, now is not the time to go silent. Pope Benedict XVI had to retire to get that option. "Cardinal Joseph Tobin told a journalist on Friday that he heard rumors shortly after his 2017 arrival in the Archdiocese of Newark about the sexual misconduct of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. He said he did not investigate those rumours because he found them unbelievable." So, he stayed silent. Yet, he is seen as a protege of McCarrick and has said recently he never heard about a gay lobby, after six priests in his diocese described how active it was there. Mike Kelly of the North Jersey Record reported: “Tobin told me that soon after arriving in Newark, he heard ‘rumours’ about McCarrick’s beach house. But he never bothered to check them out. He says he thought the story was too ‘incredulous’ to believe.” “Shame on me that I didn’t ask sooner,” Tobin reportedly told Kelly.
https://cruxnow.com/cardinals/2018/09/02/cardinal-tobin-reportedly-decl…

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 months 1 week ago

“ So, now is not the time to go silent”

If only Tim, if only, you would do as Pope Francis does....be silent

Henry Brown
2 months 1 week ago

Guillermo,

You comment more than anyone else.

If Bishop Tobin heard the rumours and did not investigate then he needs to resign.

Why did it take so long for Mccarrick to be disciplined, if what he was doing was so well known ?

Harvey Milk, MD
2 months 1 week ago

"Henry" how many accounts do you use to comment on America Magazine?

You'll have to ask Pope John Paul in prayer why he did nothing about the "lavender mafia" as you often call them since all he did when he called the US Cardinals to Rome after the Cardinal Law mess was have lunch with them.

Stan Zorin
2 months ago

@ Guillermo Luaces - What is your agenda ? Why are you so desperate to cover up, with silence, sins and evil within the clergy ?

Stan Zorin
2 months ago

Erased - double post.

John Chuchman
2 months 1 week ago

Silence in the face of abuse is Complicity.

Danny Collins
2 months 1 week ago

Well said.

Arthur Sullivan
2 months 1 week ago

Staggered that he would say this. Suddenly I feel it just will never get better.

Will Niermeyer
2 months 1 week ago

When a married couple is having difficulties communication is of utmost importance. Silence can and often dooms the marriage. The Church is the bride of Christ. Silence will only cause more harm and even doom.

Carlos Poblet
2 months 1 week ago

Very good analogy. "Silence at any price" speaks clearly about a serious lack of moral and manly leadership and fortitude...The feminized Church of Nice and gay

Daniel Montiel
2 months 1 week ago

Interesting! The above comments are so, so furious that Francis recommends *not* playing into either a media firestorm or a stacked deck/public jury.
Man, they are *PO'ed*, aren't they, that Francis recommends not launching pitched battles with people who buy ink by the barrel. 😆

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Daniel, I’m not entirely sure what is going on internally with those who commented above and are upset with Pope Francis’ silence. It’s hard to discern others motivations and emotions. I can only speak for myself in saying that my heart is broken by our father who is for whatever his reasons may be, unwilling to speak truth into a serious situation which is directly leading to the division of the church, against which he mentioned in his homely. A father speaks truth. A father reassures his frightened children. A father apologizes if it is necessary. A father does not remain silent when his strength is needed. It was God in the genesis account who spoke into existence truth, Which brought about order from chaos. Our church is in a chaotic and divided place and desperately in need unity which is order. We are in need of a leader who will use his words to heal. Instead I’m afraid we may be seeing a situation not unlike the shortcomings of our first father, Adam, who remained silent when his strength was imperative.

Jong Ricafort
2 months 1 week ago

Sarah Dolski
Pope Francis Wisdom is so great, he said 'fake news" is satan snake tactics back in the garden of eden.
So, before we believe evrything satan presented to us as truth...we discern first first as satan can deceived us like Eve.
The fruit of SILENCE is prayer...and satan cannot beguile nor deceive a prayerful soul.
Gobless

gerald nichols
2 months ago

Well worded! Either PF cannot respond because the accusations are true, or he is depending on the incredulity of the main part of the Church, and hopes to "ride it out."

john collins
2 months 1 week ago

Silence is golden. It has the result—in the present case of Francis’ detractors, the most immediate of whom is Vigano—to ferret out PRECISELY one’s detractors. Silence in this case is laudable because it imitates Jesus by revealing not evading the truth (that there are detractors whose intentions are pernicious and whose words are poison).

John Collins

Francis Gentry
2 months 1 week ago

Thank you Daniel Montiel and John Collins! I despair of the Church many times while reading comments by "professed" Catholics. Where has the humility gone, I wonder?

Paula Swain
2 months 1 week ago

I assure you, Mr. Gentry, I am as much of a faithful Catholic as you are. I love my faith, my Church and my God. I will continue to demand truth, honesty, transparency.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Could it be possible that the questioning is not motivated by the professed Catholics lack of humility? Perhaps for some, but I am willing to give many the benefit of the doubt and believe them when they say that the questioning is grounded in a search for truth because of their profound love of the Church. Dialogue brings order out of chaos. God SAID to the darkness let there be light and it was created and it was good. Therefore our words, since we are co-creators with the divine, bring about goodness- life, unity, order and truth. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this reply to sound like I’m getting on a soap box of anything, and I’m sorry if it came across that way. I just wanted to offer another perspective.

Chris Puckett
2 months 1 week ago

it's a brilliant strategy considering his position.

rose-ellen caminer
2 months 1 week ago

Pope Francis gets it; ""when I think of McCain my emotional response is; bitter!; in case the animus was water off this ducks back, the bullying piled on and escalated [take note sociologists of the internet,out there.lol]; "McCain seethed bitterness in his every pore".Anyone can say anything about anyone.Such Emotional outbursts, accusations uncorroborated by evidence, is devilish work. Whether emotional, or biased no unsubstantiated attack needs to be answered. If a homophobic or right wing Vigano is after the Pope because of the Pope's[left leaning] political beliefs, Francis is right to not address unsubstantiated charges against him regarding sexual abuse scandal.This scandal [ first it was the abuse itself by predator priests, now finally we are getting comments that recognizing the humanity of the abusive priests in the institutionalized asexual church setting they were immersed in, which mitigates their crimes, and so the goal post has shifted and its now the cover up by the powerful bishops who are most to blame] is now being used as a weapon by right wingers and left wingers.each with their own agenda.; ban gays from the priesthood, ordain women , abolish the celibate, clergy , abolish the clergy itself, abolish the hierarchy, the pope!Pope Francis does not need to take the bait of mere unsubstantiated accusations, in the name of transparency.A lesson for all?Certainly for me as a predictable bait taking online "commenter" .[ i got ptsd; thought i was back on that other catholic blog].God bless you Pope Francis.

Jim Lein
2 months 1 week ago

Vigano is certainly Trump-like in tone but with more words. He may have some valid points but he is overplaying his hand with his shrillness. He is definitely not Christ-like.

rose-ellen caminer
2 months 1 week ago

Yes.Thanks.

Stan Zorin
2 months ago

@ Jim Lein - What you say is : "Shrillness is evil - let the nazis kill off the Jews and let us be quiet and not shrill.'

Jack Feehily
2 months 1 week ago

This attempted coup against the Successor of Peter is being justified by an archbishop who has appointed himself the prosecutor of the Roman Pontiff. We already know that McCarrick in no way acted as if canonical sanctions had been levied against him by Pope Benedict. So “the prosecutor” amends his comments by calling them private actions. We already know that in the alleged encounter with Vigano and Francis neither knew of the credible and substantiated charge of the sexual abuse of a minors by McCarrick while a priest in NYC. We should also know that while a thousand persons may have referred to “things going on at the beach house”, this is not the same as testimony of eye witnesses. When actual charges were made by two adults about sexual misconduct by McCarrick were made they were adjudicated and resulted in financial settlements. Present canon law does not regard sexual acts between a cleric and an adult as a crime. It is, of course a serious violation of the promise of chaste celibacy and one would not expect that such a person would receive ecclesiastical promotions. That is a true scandal and can be resolved by a new process of vetting nominees for episcopal appointments, No pope has done more to address the issue of sexual abuse and episcopal coverups than Francis. He has accepted or requested the resignations of more than a dozen bishops either for sexual misconduct or for covering such matters up. The resignations of more than thirty additional Chilean bishops are still on his desk. The resignation of Cdl. Wuerl is also on his desk as is those of any bishop over 75 years of age. The response we should be looking for from. Francis is the further work he has vowed to end this mess. I have confidence that he will do so. Long live pope Francis!

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

I’m not sure what the motive of every individual who is asking for answers and clarification regarding these serious allegations directed towards Pope Francis are. I’m not sure why the pope is remaining silent. All I’m sure of is that I , like many Catholics, are simply afraid and need to hear our father speak into this situation to reassure us. For me it is not politically motivated. It’s a more a matter of human relationship built upon the foundation of trust which seems to be for many crumbling. This needs to be acknowledged if unity and healing is to occur. I don’t know if Pope Francis is guilty of what he is accused of. Because I love him, I would like to believe he is innocent. But I and many others will live in a state of constant questioning until our leaders acknowledge our concerns by addressing this situation head on. The solution may only come about through dialogue and honest speech.

Beth Cioffoletti
2 months 1 week ago

Profound leadership and example from our Holy Father.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Hi Beth! I’m curious to hear what specifically you found profound regarding our Holy Fathers Response. Do you feel comfortable in elaborating?

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 months 1 week ago

Sarah, to answer your question perhaps these words can help you understand holiness and our Holy Father. Does this look familiar to you?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Thanks Guillermo for your response. That passage of scripture is so beautiful and meaningful. It’s one of my favorites! I love the last line which addresses hope. Sometimes it feels hard to hold onto that. I’m also particularly struck by the part in which it speaks about rejoicing in the truth. My prayer right now is that the truth will come out so the rejoicing can begin!

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 months 1 week ago

"It’s one of my favorites!"
Sarah, are you a Catholic fundamentalist? The chapter is beautiful on so many levels, yet you only took one phrase of it.
You are welcome, Sarah. I'm here to evangelize the lost and humble the proud in heart by showing them Jesus. Does that name sound familiar?

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

I’m sorry. I don’t want to engage in dialogue with you anymore. You don’t know me, and I’m not going to invest in conversation with someone who makes broad and judgemental assumptions about people they have never metand their theology. Thank you for your offer to evangelize me on the grounds that my heart lacks humility. However, I will take the Holy Fathers advice on this one and remain silent.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Thanks Guillermo for your response. That passage of scripture is so beautiful and meaningful. It’s one of my favorites! I love the last line which addresses hope. Sometimes it feels hard to hold onto that. I’m also particularly struck by the part in which it speaks about rejoicing in the truth. My prayer right now is that the truth will come out so the rejoicing can begin!

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Thanks Guillermo for your response. That passage of scripture is so beautiful and meaningful. It’s one of my favorites! I love the last line which addresses hope. Sometimes it feels hard to hold onto that. I’m also particularly struck by the part in which it speaks about rejoicing in the truth. My prayer right now is that the truth will come out so the rejoicing can begin!

Henry Brown
2 months 1 week ago

Guillermo,

Two points:

a) That is what the Catholic Faithful did when they put their trust in Priests/Bishops/Cardinals who took advantage of them.

b) Your closing remark belies what you claim we should all be doing.

Beth Cioffoletti
2 months 1 week ago

Hi Sarah - I'm just getting back to this. Francis says: "The truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy." This conveys to me a man who knows what it is to wrestle with truth can complex relational issues. I am going through something in my family that is riddled with defensiveness and accusations. I recognize how much wisdom is in his insight of backing off, being silent, and allowing the truth to reveal itself. Entering the fray adds to the turmoil, the accusations - "You are wrong!", "no YOU are wrong!" Most times we all are more or less "wrong" and what is needed for healing is much deeper than more rhetoric. Silence can allow that deeper insight and healing to happen. The truth. Francis gets this and models it for us.

Beth Cioffoletti
2 months 1 week ago

THe human need to blame "the other side" is out of control. Francis, wisely, does not take part in this. Anything that he says would ratchet the crisis up a notch or two.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 1 week ago

Hi Beth. Thanks for your response. I came to this forum very heartbroken and looking for conversation with other Catholics who are responding to this situation in their own ways. I felt sad that the Holy Father was remaining silent because I don’t understand it. I’m really grateful for your response, because honestly it brought me some peace to hear you explain it the way you did. Like you said, there is so much arguing and yelling that people on opposite sides can’t hear one another. I even on this forum, I’ve been accused of being a religious fundamentalist who needs to humble her heart and actually get to know Jesus, perhaps because the person accusing viewed me for whatever reason an enemy. I think we’re afraid, but the Popes suggestion regarding silence as a source of contemplation is very profound and counter cultural in a good way. It goes against our instincts to try to make things better in a reactive way. Perhaps he is suggesting that we all need to take a breather, remembering we are all one body and let the Holy Spirit move our hearts in a more loving direction. Maybe then at that point we could have more constructive and healing dialogue. I don’t know the intricacies of this situation, but I’m going to trust that God is still in control and actively working through our Holy Father even if he isn’t giving explanations the way I would like. After all, he is the Holy Father and I am not! Lol. Thanks again Beth!

John Keenan
2 months 1 week ago

“Have your say, then keep quiet.” That is fair; yet these are serious questions that need a factual non-emotive response, then quiet. Silence in response to the alleged facts that plague the USA Church deems consent. Something needs to be done.

C Walter Mattingly
2 months 1 week ago

Such a disheartening response from the Holy Father. It's silence before darkness that has brought us to this point. The way now can only be the truth and the light. And it needs to begin at the top. Most Catholics want answers and consider them long overdue.
At the onset of Vatican II, St John 23rd said the church needed to open the windows and let in fresh air. The light along with it.

bill carson
2 months 1 week ago

Francis recommended “silence and prayer” when one is confronted “with people lacking good will."

People lacking good will? Didn't he really just mean, the people asking questions?

The pope is adopting that same strategy that got the Church into trouble in the first place. The lousy priest and the lousy bishops REFUSED to tell their parish or diocese about the criminal sinners. They used the power of their position to discourage any question asking. I'll bet a lot of American businessmen caught up in scandal with this or that woman wish they could respond like the pope: "I ain't gonna answer your stinking questions because you have bad faith!"

gerald nichols
2 months ago

Agree! Hear hear!

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