Throwing the First Stone!

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Pope Francis just completed a 5-day trip, December 2-6, to Cyprus and Greece.

In comparison to other larger countries and major crises in the world today, I felt his public appearances and his words might be low-key. I was wrong again. Everything he did and said on this short trip was power-packed. Even on the flight home from Athens to Rome, he was not afraid to preach the Gospel.

Pope Francis spoke to journalists on board his flight as he usually does. He touched on the fall from grace of French Archbishop Michel Aupetit, the former archbishop of Paris. 

Pope Francis had accepted Aupetit’s resignation as archbishop on Thursday as the Pope began his trip. A report was published last week in Le Point magazine saying Aupetit had engaged in a consensual, intimate relationship with a woman years ago. 

Aupetit responded to the report saying he didn’t have sexual relations with the woman. However, in an interview with Catholic radio Notre Dame last week, the French archbishop admitted that he “poorly handled the situation with a person who was in contact many times with me.”

Pope Francis challenged the allegations against Aupetit, saying, “what did Aupetit do that was so bad in order to give his resignation?”

“Answer me,” he asked the journalists on the papal plane. Then the Pope handed the microphone to the journalist who had asked the question. When there was no answer, the Pope insisted that “if we don’t know the accusation, we can’t condemn him.”

When there are allegations, an investigation must be made, but it should not be the public that condemns, Francis said.

Pope Francis admitted that while there was perhaps a violation of the sixth commandment not to commit adultery, it was “not totally” a violation in Aupetit’s case.

There were “small caresses, massages…This is the accusation,” he said, saying “This is a sin, but it’s not among the most serious, no?”

Everyone is a sinner, including Aupetit and himself, the Pope said, noting that even Peter sinned by rejecting Jesus before his passion.

“We must all always feel that we are sinners, and we must be humble,” he said.

“When gossip grows and grows and grows and takes the good name from someone…This is an injustice,” Pope Francis said, saying he accepted Aupetit’s resignation “not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy.”

In reflecting on Pope Francis’ words, what public or private person have YOU condemned, simply because of allegations? 
What would YOU do and how would YOU feel if there were false allegations about YOU that would ruin YOUR life?


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