Pope Francis on life issues

The newly-elected Pope Francis is, of course, the pope being Catholic, pro-life.  To the point of having a good answer for those who believe in abortion in the case of rape–he calls that the death penalty for the unborn (practiced in countries that won’t give the death penalty for the rapists)–and agreeing that politicians who support abortion should be denied Holy Communion.

From New Pope: No Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians:

New Pope Francis I is a conservative in the mold of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. That’s especially true on the issue of abortion, which he called a “death sentence” for the unborn in 2007. “We aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” he said during that speech, “but in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”

In the Aparecida Document, a document that represents a joint statement by Latin American church leaders but presented by Francis in 2007, the leaders stated, “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortions, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Grace

    A child conceived by a mentally challenged woman, is no less human, than anyone else. The perpetrator should get the “death penalty” but INSTEAD, the child gets the “death penalty” – WRONG!

    Those who support abortions, and euthanasia, should not receive Communion, for the fact that it is against the Word of God. Abortion is an atrocity, taking another’s life because they are sick or a burden is no excuse to END their life.

  • Grace

    @ 1 – - “Abortion is an atrocity, taking another’s life because they are sick or a burden is no excuse to END their life.

    This comment should have followed paragraph one.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Seems to me that Pope Francis is simply telling people that they can not act contrary to the confession they claim to hold.

  • noel

    Men who have no experience of the vagerious of bringing up children, some men also intefering sexually with young children deign to tell others what to do.

  • Tom Hering

    The pope’s anti-abortion stance is commendable, yes, but what about the eternal life issue, and the eternal death sentence that comes with a reliance on merit and works? Will this pope correct the Roman teaching on justification? Will he stop contributing to the false hope, held by many, that they’ll be found good enough to get into heaven? No, of course he won’t. So there’s little in this election for a Lutheran to get excited about.

  • Spaulding

    There is one problem with denying communion to “Catholic” politicians, is the way the media and as manipulative as so many of them are. They would make it seem that they are being persecuted by the evil, out of date, misogynist Catholic Church and turn themselves into martyrs to the cause of “women’s rights” in their own eyes and in the eyes of their followers, and declare open season for Catholic bashing.

    I do agree with the Pope and others that have suggested it but how to get it so they politicians can’t claim that they are etc.

  • Paul Reed

    I expect the pope’s influence will be limited, particularly in spoiled and “educated” nations like ours, but it is at least something of a victory for moral conservatives. At minimum, he’s willing to say that a man doesn’t have the right to “marry” another man (or his cat for that matter.) And he understands the moral principle that if a woman gets pregnant, which is virtually always due directly to her actions, even if cases of rape where women often do the equivalent of leaving their car keys inside the car, then she has an obligation to carry the baby for 9 months and not murder her baby in pursuit of a better life. So do I expect anything major from the new pope? No. But it’s better than nothing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@5:

    Sure, I’ll go there. The Catholic Church doesn’t teach salvation by works. At no point is a Catholic instructed that he must be “good enough” to achieve salvation. The Reformation happened 500 years ago. It worked.

  • Joe

    Paul @ 7 – you had a good comment going until you made the completely asinine remark about women leaving their keys in the car. Stupidity like that is beneath the level of this blog. But just as important, your idiotic statement about rape almost always being, at least partially, the women’s fault misses the point entirely. A women should not kill her child regardless of who is to blame for the existence of that child. It is not an obligation that inures to her because of her actions, its the right thing to do because murder is against the 5th commandment and violates our obligation to love our neighbor.

  • Trey

    @Noel -4 So only those intimately involved should be able to have an opinion? I would think that someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race would be more objective. Try refuting his arguments not his person.

    @Cincinnatis-8 So the RC church has rejected the doctrines posited by the Council of Trent? When did this occur?

    @Paul-7 Women are to blame for rape? How ludicrous! According to that logic, a child too would be blamed. Stop tying and think what you are saying before you click the “Publish” button.

  • Joe

    Trent:

    CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received [from Christ] is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

    CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

    Catholic Catechism:

    III Merit.

    2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.

    2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

  • Cincinnatus

    Trey and Joe:

    [N]o one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion

    Precisely.

  • Steve Bauer

    So after receiving the “initial grace of forgiveness and justification” one is fully a child of God and an heir of eternal life? The phrase “at the beginning of conversion…” would seem to answer “no”.

  • Paul Reed

    @Joe

    I can’t say this enough times…The pro-abortion argument doesn’t say women can get abortions because the child isn’t a human. The pro-abortion argument is that women can terminate a pregnancy because she doesn’t have the obligation to carry a child, even if the child is dependent on her for life. After all, the woman wouldn’t have to donate a kidney for one of her children even if the child’s life depended on it. So why should she have an obligation from the government to use her body for the child in the case of pregnancy? What the pro-abortion side fails to mention, and that pro-lifers tend to be afraid to bring up, is that it is the actions of the woman that got the unborn baby in the dependent position to begin with. And you talk about what is “morally right” and what is Biblically right. That’s nice and you are correct in what you say, but we aren’t debating church policy, we’re debating civil policy. The Bible says spouses have a sexual obligation to one another, but that’s not going to be enforced by the gov’t.

  • JasonG

    One of the recent Pope’s called the Protestant doctrine of assurance the great Protestant heresy.

    I am grateful that Jorge Bergoglio is committed to life and stopping the abuse of it in all forms, very grateful indeed.

    But I am also grateful for Biblical assurance, and I cling to that ‘heresy’. I hope that one day a Pope will teach that.

  • kempin04

    I, personally, don’t really understand all of the interest in the change of power at the vatican. I do appreciate that that Roman Catholic church is an ally on some pretty fundamental issues, such as life, but I still think it makes rather strange bedfellows, considering they deny justification by grace and all.

    Nevertheless, I do think this cardinal’s context of abortion was excellent. Do you believe that rape should be punished with the death penalty? Why no, of course not! But don’t you realize that abortion is that very thing? The innocent child is executed for the crime of the rapist.

    That’s good. Hard to get around the logic of that perspective. I have to give Frankie credit for that one, even though I must now denounce him as antichrist for denying the gospel and usurping the authority of scripture.

  • Jon

    @13 Steve. Right. It’s the whole “cooperation” thing. They see grace as a substance, a fuel, that leads to increased sanctification and hence justification. It’s something we have to participate in as Joe pointed out in the Trent quotes. And, there’s a “Treasury of Merit, a bank account if you will, where you can store up and draw out grace from it, even donate it to others in need. Kinda like a spiritual PayPal account.

  • Joe

    Cincy – you are proving my point — that initial free grace is only the beginning. You don’t actually get eternal life until you earn it. “we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life.”

    For Catholics salvation is a two step process: Justification from Christ gets the ball rolling and the merit of the individual earns the remaining “graces” needed to obtain eternal life.

  • Joe

    btw – read through the Catholic Catechism section on Justification and Merit and you will see the word “collaboration” as often, if not more often that the word grace. And, the word grace is used in several different manners because they teach that there are various different “graces” at play.

  • Joe

    Paul – if we win the debate on your points any women who is “truly” without blame – i.e. no action of her’s involved – would be free to murder her child. So, yes I’ll talk about abortion from a biblical perspective because I honestly think it is more important to win that debate than to make abortion illegal. Making it illegal will not stop it from happening. Convicting hearts with the Law of God and offering the Gospel will, even if only at the individual level.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I like the fact that he’s started to lay down the (canon) law to pro-abortion politicians. It won’t keep people in safe districts like Nancy Pelosi out of office, but it will be something of note in more conservative districts. It’s about time.

    And regarding the idea that he doesn’t know about raising children; he is one of five children of a family of modest means. Yes, like all men, he’s not been pregnant, but it’s a safe bet he understands his siblings, nieces and nephews pretty well.

  • EGK

    To show that nothing is changed: even Benedict declared that the Joint Declaration says nothing inconsistent with Trent. Trent remains the definitive understanding of justification for Rome, and it explicitly condemns the Lutheran view. The Joint Declaration uses language that parallels the Confutatio, which in turn was condemned by the Apology. That is the “inconvenient truth” that we still need to call attention to. Luther says the papacy will never change, and the “job description” of the Antichrist (or “man of lawlessness”) laid out in 2 Thessalonians 2 continues to be fulfilled by the papacy.

  • Grace

    Joe @ 20 “I’ll talk about abortion from a biblical perspective because I honestly think it is more important to win that debate than to make abortion illegal. Making it illegal will not stop it from happening. Convicting hearts with the Law of God and offering the Gospel will, even if only at the individual level.

    Joe, making abortion illegal would save many infants lives. Abortionists would be prosecuted for killing an infant. Before abortion was legal, there were far, far, far fewer abortions. Please don’t use the excuse that women who had illegal abortions were all back alley, that’s not true, just in case you rely on that one.

    Do you have any idea how many doctors do abortions, who don’t advertise? They might just be the doctors you go to, or the women in your family. The abortion business is big buisness. It takes about 20 minutes to perform an abortion, the cost is anywhere from four hundred to eight hundred dollars.

  • Joe

    Grace – Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want abortion to be legal for any reason at all. My only point is that focusing the debate on the legality and crafting arguments that deal only with that issue (as Paul did above) misses the larger and more important point. We as the church need to be about God’s Law (not necessarily the civil law) and God’s Gospel. We will do more good in this world if we focus on being the Church and stop trying to be the state.

  • Jon H.

    I like the new Pope’s views, but wish he’d also advocate withholding the Eucharist from politicians and other Catholics who so strenously oppose a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The guns are useful for murder. Period. Making their possession illegal would save lives and be a step away from the culture of death that so permeates both US political parties.

  • Grace

    Joe @ 24 “We as the church need to be about God’s Law (not necessarily the civil law) and God’s Gospel. We will do more good in this world if we focus on being the Church and stop trying to be the state.”

    If we truly love our nighbor, we as Believers will stand against abortion, and make known the dreadful acts of killing legally an infant. Ignoring such a responsibility is no different, than turning a so called ‘blind eye, during the holocaust.

    It’s easy to be coward, we’ve got plenty of them, never standing up to evil, or trying to prevent abortion. Not wanting to KNOW who, in their areas are performing abortions everyday without the general population knowing about WHO they are.

  • Joe

    Grace, can you read? I have not said we should turn a blind eye to anything. I have simply said that I believe the better strategy for the Church to follow in combating abortion is to preach the Law (including that abortion is morally wrong) and Gospel. It is what the Church is established to do, it is what it is (at least in theory) good at. It is not good a politics. This, I believe, will be more effective than attempting to change the political law. Abortions happened before Roe v. Wade and they will happen after its overturned (if ever).

    You kid yourself if you actually think we can, through political will, get to a point where there will be serious criminal sanctions against abortion providers. The only way there will be significantly less abortions in this world (and a society willing to enact tough criminal laws against abortion) is if a significant number of people come to realize that destroying these innocent children is a moral wrong, a sin. That is what the Church needs to focus on. Preaching; letting the Word do its work. Convicting and forgiving sinners. We don’t love our neighbor by passing a law that they see as an unjust restriction on their “rights.” We love our neighbor by giving them God’s Law and His Gospel and through that we will shape our culture into a culture that respects life and eschews abortion.

    This is not a blind eye – just an eye that focuses in a better place. The religious right has been fighting the political fight for 40 years and the polling data demonstrates that public opinion is about where it was when Roe was first decided/ The first graph is telling:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#1

    Its not working and its not working because abortion has been reduced to a partisan political fight. We need to elevate it (once again) to an issue of sin and forgiveness and issue of God’s Word. If we do that we might make some head way.

  • Grace

    Joe

    “Grace, can you read?”

    That’s a stupid, childish question, just because you don’t like my answers, or what I write.

    Laws are passed every day. If you feel, as it appears you do, that not speaking up to change the law, is a good thing, that it will accomplish nothing, then sit by and watch. Most people aren’t interested in the Gospel, therefore infants are slaughtered everyday.

    Most people give little thought to going to church, still fewer Believers ever make a stand, or tell their friends about HIM – they talk about it, but they don’t do the DOING PART.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Jon H.: less than 3% of all murders in the United States, about 300 per year, are committed with all long guns, including standard rifles, shotguns, and “weapons that look scary to Diane Feinstein.” Contrast that with over one million surgical abortions annually, and do the math.

    (you may want to visit a gun shop to learn that really differentiates “assault weapons” from other firearms that Sen. Feinstein hasn’t tried to ban yet)

    Plus, the strongest predictor of violence is not gun ownership, but rather whether the perpetrator’s mother and father were married when the perpetrator was born. And yes, I believe the Pope has spoken to that issue.

  • Grace

    Jon @ 25 “Making their possession illegal would save lives and be a step away from the culture of death that so permeates both US political parties.”

    Jon, it doesn’t work that way. Men and women who commit crimes of violence, using guns are not going to give their weapons up, they are going to hide and keep them – those who are responsible will keep the laws, the criminals will always have theirs.

    Making something illegal, doesn’t stand in the way of a criminal. If it did, are prisons would not be overflowing with prisoners, they wouldn’t be letting so many out, to make room for others.

  • Jon H.

    @29 Bike, your myth about single parenthood notwithstanding, you made a good argument for banning handguns. But we Christians need to stop supporting death industries.

  • SKPeterson

    Jon H @ 31 – You mean death industries like the government?

  • Jon H.

    @ 32
    Yes.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Jon; it’s not a myth, but a proven fact. Patrick Moynihan noted it back in 1965. Overall, about 2/3 of penitentiary inmates are from the quarter of adults who grew up in a single parent home. The relative risk is about five or ten to one.

    Put differently, why are half of homicides among blacks, which are only 13% of the population? If you control for family status, you eliminate the racial correlation. When Dad is at home, his son learns civilized limits of behavior. When he is not, the son does not. Walter Williams writes a lot on this–I suggest you look it up. Here’s a starter.

    http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/williamns070412.php3

    And yes, when you control for family status, Americans from two parent families have crime rates that are about the same as those in Europe and Japan. So maybe it’s time for the government to get out of the business of promoting unwed parenting, eh?

  • Jon H.

    Bike, I’m glad you and I agree that handguns should be banned as well.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Jon, if that’s your conclusion, you’d do well to take a couple of classes in “reading comprehension” and “logic.”

  • Jon H.

    @ 36
    I was being charitable. The logical conclusion of your comment @34 would suggest you need to be reminded who your neighbor is.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    #37: No, you were not being charitable. You are accusing me of not loving my neighbor because I differ with you about the cause of my neighbor’s difficulties. If you want to find someone who’s forgotten who their neighbor is, look in the mirror.

    Yes, I know you’d claim that it’s uncharitable to point to the behavior of the poor as a cause for their difficulties, but if it’s true, it’s hardly charitable to hide that fact from them, is it?

    And here’s the fact; children of married parents commit crimes at a far lower rate than those of unwed parents. You want to deal with the culture of death? Great. Deal with its source; our culture of fornication and unwed parenting.

    The Pope is working on it, and so am I. It’s time for you to remember who your neighbor is and stop blaming inanimate objects for their plight.

  • Jon H.

    @38
    The killers in Newtown, Tucson, and Aurora, were not bastards, but I know who you’re really talking about. By charitable, I meant I refrained from describing your argument by its real name. Nonetheless, you may want to read the following, which likens the US obsession with guns to idolotry. Your plea to “stop blaming the inanimate objects” reminded me of it.

    “The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

    “Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.”

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/dec/15/our-moloch/

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    More personal attacks, Jon? Jude 9, and the Lord rebuke you for your slanders. If you want to see a bigot, you can look right in the mirror at someone who believes that disagreement is a consistent sign of base motives.

  • Paul Reed

    @Bike Bubba

    “And here’s the fact; children of married parents commit crimes at a far lower rate than those of unwed parents.”

    People hate facts if they don’t agree with their agenda. As well as what the Bible says if it doesn’t agree with their agenda. And the Bible does actually use the term “bastard”, and it doesn’t speak too flatteringly of them.


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