I was recently sent some beautiful quotes attributed to Pope Francis.

Pope Francis appears to be a genuine humble and profoundly Christian man. It is truly refreshing to be able to feel for once that the designation “Christian” might be something other than just an embarrassment in the public arena. I am not embarrassed when a man speaks in the name of Christ as Francis speaks.

Some excerpts from: James Carroll, “Who Am I to Judge? – a radical Pope’s first year”, The New Yorker, December 23 & 30, 2013:

“What kind of love do we bring to others? . . . Do we treat each other like brothers and sisters? Or do we judge one another?”

“We want to enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world.”

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.”

Speaking before a gathering of newly consecrated bishops in September [2013], he denounced the “psychology of princes”, and called the ambitious trek up the ladder of Episcopal appointments a form of “spiritual adultery”. “The spirit of careerism,” he warned, “is a form of cancer.”

“Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others,” he wrote in “The Joy of the Gospel” [Francis’ first major declaration of his pontificate, an ‘apostolic exhortation’], “I too must think about a conversion of the papacy.”

“I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.” … “Not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!” For Francis, the Church’s purpose is not to bring God to the world but simply to emphasize God’s presence – already there.

“I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech.”

“Through the awful trials of these last centuries, the Jews have preserved their faith in God. And for this, we, the Church and the whole human family, can never be sufficiently grateful to them.”

“In this globalized world we have fallen into globalized indifference.” … “We have become used to the suffering of others.”

“The first reform,” Pope Francis said, “must be the attitude” [cf. the Dalai Lama].

These are startling pronouncements from the Bishop of Rome.

But, as lovely as the Pope’s words are, I still hesitate. Is he  open to the possibility that, I am sincere when I respond in the mass to the priest’s proclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God” with the words:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed?

Will Francis bring the day when, instead of being instructed to come forward at communion, humbly bow my head, cross my arms on my chest, and receive a blessing from the priest, I might be free to put out my hands and receive the bread of life that is offered to those who are “not worthy”?

When that day comes, I will be convinced that one man can actually make a difference in a large unwieldy institution.

“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” The Roman church’s refusal to fully meet fellow Christians at the Lord’s table is a festering wound.

If indeed, Roman Catholics believe that in the Mass the gift of Christ’s presence is shared, it remains incomprehensible that there could be even the slightest theological justification to refuse this gift to one who asks with a sincere heart. What vague abstract theological principal could ever justify excluding anyone who desires to open their heart to Jesus from receiving the bread and wine of Christ’s presence?

The more Pope Francis says the kind of things he is reported to be saying, the more indefensible becomes the practice of exclusion from full participation in the Mass for those who desire to embrace Christ in all the fullness of his divine reality.