A Franciscan Encounter after Pope Francis’ First Apostolic Blessing

Paul Keggington

March 15, 2013

Needless to say, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are excited about having a Pope Francis. Community Director Sister Louise Hembrecht not only was interviewed by local Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter Media for her feelings about this papal selection, but she shares here a personal encounter  that happened after the Holy Father’s formal announcement. We invite you to share any recent experiences that have touched you deeply.

I had a rather unusual shopping experience this morning. I was on my way out of a store after picking up a few items when a gentleman got my attention and asked if I could help him. I asked what he needed and he told me that he thought he was dying. I asked if he had been to the doctor and he had and was now going to pick up some medicine.

 After a few seconds, I asked him if he was afraid of dying and he said that he was. I asked why and he said because he had committed sins in his life. Next, I asked if he was Catholic. That brought a negative answer.

Then all of a sudden I thought of yesterday and Pope Francis. I asked the gentleman if he had watched television yesterday and heard Pope Francis speak after being elected by the Cardinals. He had.

So I said – Well you know that in that speech, he gave general absolution forgiving our sins and the effects of those sins. The commentators spoke of the meaning of the Keys of Peter, that what Peter and his successors loose on earth is loosed in heaven and what he binds on earth is bound in heaven. Then Pope Francis said that the absolution applied to those in St. Peter’s Square and all who were watching by any means of media. And he didn’t say that he was forgiving only the sins of Catholics or Catholic sins (whatever that might be) so that the sins of all who were listening were forgiven. I asked if he loved God – an affirmative response and if he was sorry for his sins – another affirmative response. Then I told him not to worry because our sins had been forgiven. I told him I would keep him in prayer.

He thanked me and went in to get his medicine. God is good and so is Pope Francis.

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