Pope Francis spoke with great freedom and compassion in the now famous ‘no limits’ interview to the press-corps with him.  Whilst the ‘Who am I to judge a gay person?’ has rippled around the world –  for most Catholics this is no great surprise.  However there was a more subtle point that has been missed by many – In the Pope’s own words (translated from Italian)

I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one  looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published.  These things are not crimes.  The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime.  But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.  When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh?  This is a danger.  This is what is important: a theology of sin.  So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ.  And with this sin they made him Pope.  We must think about fact often.

This link between forgetting and forgiveness is a massive point for me in the digital age.  As Andrew Keen makes out in his excellent book Digital Vertigo, the internet has not yet learnt to forget and thus cannot forget.  We all make mistakes as we are growing up, in fact I am convinced that we grow more through our failures rather than our successes.  That is when we really learn about ourselves.  However today’s ‘Digital Natives‘ are making many of their mistakes on-line.  This makes them vulnerable, as pictures and words are all up there available to all,  to future employers and media outlets.  Their mistakes are being made in public – and they are particularly vulnerable because of this.   One day we will have a Pope who is a digital native, I hope by then the internet will have learnt how to forget, then it may become a more forgiving and compassionate place.