The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62)
Pope Francis has given a stunning homily after meeting with victims of sexual abuse in the Church.
He begins by recalling the quotation above, how when Jesus looks at Peter, Peter, filled with remorse at having denied Him, goes out and weeps bitterly.
Francis, sitting in the Chair of Peter, explains why he (Peter) now weeps (my emphasis) ...
... some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created.
The abuse of children by priests is not just sinful, it is sacrilegious, it is a desecration, a profanation. It is demonic.
The Holy Father ends his homily keeping with the image he opens with, praying for Jesus to look at him, to remind him of his sin so that he may weep - so that we all may weep!
Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: "You know that I love you"; and hear him say: "go back and feed my sheep" – and I would add – "let no wolf enter the sheepfold".
Pope Francis gets it.
May he follow through on his words, and as our universal shepherd, may he keep the wolves from the sheep - and may he always allow the victims to gaze on him with the penetrating eyes of the suffering Jesus.