What If Pope Francis Gave a Pro-Life Homily and No One Noticed? What If He Begged Us to Change Our Hearts and No One Listened?

The Child of Bethlehem is frail, like all newborn children. He cannot speak and yet he is the Word made flesh who came to transform the hearts and lives of all men and women. This Child, like every other child, is vulnerable; he needs to be accepted and protected. Today too, children need to be welcomed and defended, from the moment of their conception.

That was Pope Francis, speaking at none other than the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Headlines and photos of his visit to the Holy Land focused on the gestures. But be careful not to play caption games with photographs of Pope Francis, ignoring what is said and done in a fuller context (which is that of the Gospels).

That’s a good general rule with this pope.

And I say that not as just someone who happens to believe abortion is our greatest shame, the fruit of a culture content with indifference about who we are and why we’re here and where we are called to be headed to together.

I say that as someone who wants to save her soul.

People ask me to quit “spinning” for Pope Francis, when I point out that he is not the liberal progressive’s dream pope, that he isn’t a Marxist, and he won’t be presiding over gay weddings at St. Peter’s. (He tells us, also, by the way, not to ignore our brother — including the prisoner, the immigrant, the beggar, and anyone else you or I might have passed by or ignored today). In truth, I’m just trying to share what I know — what anyone can know by listening in.

I’ve become an evangelizer for the Vatican’s handy news website, news.va. On most weekdays, by the time most Americans are on their way to the office, there is a report from Vatican Radio with an English-language report on what the pope said in his morning homily at Santa Marta, where he resides. Each morning it presents a personal challenge …

I keep telling people, because it’s become my experience of him, that Pope Francis is an Ignatian spiritual director for the world, walking us through spiritual exercises, directing us to personal transformation, which could transform the world.

This was, in fact, his approach in Bethlehem.

we have to ask ourselves: Who are we, as we stand before the Child Jesus? Who are we, standing as we stand before today’s children? Are we like Mary and Joseph, who welcomed Jesus and care for him with the love of a father and a mother? Or are we like Herod, who wanted to eliminate him? Are we like the shepherds, who went in haste to kneel before him in worship and offer him their humble gifts? Or are we indifferent? Are we perhaps people who use fine and pious words, yet exploit pictures of poor children in order to make money? Are we ready to be there for children, to “waste time” with them? Are we ready to listen to them, to care for them, to pray for them and with them? Or do we ignore them because we are too caught up in our own affairs?

But if you were to look at most of the news reports and the photo wrap-ups, there were pictures of the Holy Father with politicians, with religious leaders, but his words seem to be lost. He is, of course, an effective pope of gestures. Embracing the disfigured man’s face. Holding the child. Going to confession right in front of rolling cameras at St. Peter’s, as if to say: I know I’ve been imploring you to know God’s mercy. But let me show you. I need it too! Thanks be to God for it.

As we listen to papal interviews, read excerpts of documents, and soundbite summaries of monumental trips, let’s be careful to not play reckless caption games with the images.

From a Mideast politics point of view, an exchange with Benjamin Netanayhu about what language Jesus spoke has been blown out of distracting proportion, even as the Pope acknowledged his own personal addition to the Sermon on the Mount to express his brotherhood with Israeli leaders and all people of good will. Pope Francis began his presidential visit with:

I thank you, Mr President, for your words of greeting and your welcome. With a touch of imagination, I would like to invent a new Beatitude, one I can apply to myself today: “Blessed is he who enters the house of a wise and good man”. I feel blessed. Thank you most sincerely.

If you read nothing else of his Holy Land trip, read what he said at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, he said:

“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost… yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss…
Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you. Who are you, o man? What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths?
Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made. The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands. Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you. That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).
No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart… Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.
Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: “Adam, where are you?”
From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!” To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).
A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.
Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2). Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!
“Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.
Remember us in your mercy.

Christian or Jew. Muslim or Agnostic. This Holy Father wants us to be who we are called to be: Sisters and brothers. Children of God.

Receive and recognize this. Be healed by and be instruments of Divine Mercy.

Don’t politicize this. Don’t miss this. And Christians, let’s be who we say we are already.

  • mochalite

    This is very beautiful, and as a Prebyterian Christian, I accept the challenge! God bless.

  • fredx2

    The Pope is actually much more of an intellectual than he is given credit for. This is a very smart, very deep man. Because of his common touch, he does not get credit for it. But his insights are very deep.Perhaps it is the perfect combination, this combination of intellect and folksiness.
    That’s what I like about Catholicism. It’s deep.
    As for the “spinning” thing, I am reminded of John Paul II. The media constantly tried to fit him into one box or another, but they were missing the man entirely. He told George Weigel that he cannot be understood from the outside, only from the inside. I think Pope Francis is like that, too.

  • BXVI

    There is so much positive about Pope Francis. His focus on evangelization is critical. That’s no different that JPII and Benedict, but people seem to think he’s better at it. At least, better than Benedict. He has generated a lot of interest and positivity from non-believers and those who have fallen away. But for me, he counteracts almost all of it with the negatives that come with the positives. The “media” spin on some of Pope Francis’ comments is unfortunate but predictable. On the other hand, many of his comments and gestures have been very troubling to faithful Catholics, and it is not because they were filtered through the media spin machine. It’s because the comments and gestures are troubling to traditional, conservative Catholics. The Catholic media should not have to go into spin control mode to salvage the Pope every other week and try to convince faithful Catholics that the Pope is not a heretic. It is a bad and dangerous situation. And I don’t think these things are mere slip-ups. It seems clear to me that Pope Francis is using “informal” situations with the media to float ideas and positions that would create shock and outrage if they came as formal pronouncements. He knows the Catholic faithful are not ready for it, so he’s in a way attemting to “desensitize” the Church by saying things informally, or with gestures, or by allowing Cardinals or Bishops who are close to him say something (e.g., Kasper, Baldisseri, Rodriguez-Maradiaga). Let’s not be fools; Pope Francis is about as left-wing progressive as one can be and still be a legitmate Pope of the Catholic Church. And don’t get me wrong – he is of course a legitimate Pope of the Catholic Church. But in my mind he is as liberal as Benedict was consevative. I don’t like it, and I don’t think it is good for the Church. In the end, my guess is that Francis’ approach will win few real converts and will alienate many of the faithful. This is because what the masses truly want is not “mercy” but validation. They want to be told that their sins are not sins, and that therefore they need not repent to be reconciled with God. They want their remarriage after a divorce and with no annullment to be okay; they want their gay marriage to be okay; they want their abortions to be okay; they want their premarital sex and drug use and euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research to be okay. Francis has not given them that and he can’t. But he has given them the next best thing, which is to say “Ok, lets just not talk about these things so much because God loves you.” When in fact, these are precisely the things that MUST be talked about. Pope Francis’ message needs to echo the words of St. Peter on the morning of Pentecost: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” We were greatly blessed with JPII and Benedict XVI.

    • Maria

      Are you conservative before you are catholic or catholic before you are conservative? Did you not here his remark about “the field hospital”. How can we teach people their ethics on big issues are wrong if they miss the central points? We are living in a world where people don’t even know the basic stories of the gospel. They don’t even know what the crucifixion is besides a man nailed to the cross. The trinity produces blank stares. Social justice issues are important but they can’t trump knowledge of our faith. At the end of the day we should judge this pope as if he is on par with the catholic faith not political ideologies and labels such as “liberal” and “conservative”. The dissenting catholics might turn everything into a political issue but more faithful catholics should not do the same.

      • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

        The Church is a field hospital for sinners
        Not gospel.

        • Maria

          You’re wrong, the quote is actually “I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” We are all sinners and we all need the Church and the Sacrament of Confession, so I don’t know what you’re getting at? I suggest you re-read the gospel and learn.

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            I see the church as a field hospital after battle.
            Please help me then @Maria (that would be gospel): Scripture quote? Church Fathers? Prior 265 Popes? Quote from a saint perhaps?

          • Maria

            He’s using a modern analogy of his own to my best knowledge to show what the church is must do in our modern world that is weak in faith and knowledge of it. It doesn’t need to be quoted in all those texts in the same words he used to be considered on par with our faith. Does it have correct meaning or not, however the idea may be stated? Is it explicitly anti-catholic if read in the full context of what he said(he said more along with that quote)?

          • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

            @Maria, thank you for this reply.
            Apparently (I haven’t been able to verify it myself), this term is from a secular novel: “The Shoes of the Fisherman | a novel by the Australian novelist Morris West.”
            Your last question, therein lies the danger, the subtlety of its deviation …
            I have commented elsewhere on DISQUS why I think it is not in accordance with our Catholic Faith from the very beginning.
            Summary: The call of God, His prophets to John the Baptist, and the LORD’s own to when the Apostles started preaching, and the Church’s on Ash Wednesday is ‘Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand/and believe in the Gospel, etc.’ There is no way around the ‘repent’.
            Pope Francis, therefore, sees the Church in a way different from Scripture, the Church Fathers, the prior 265 Popes, the Saints, the Church on Ash Wednesday, and from the LORD, whose Vicar he is.

          • FranklinWasRight

            I think the problem is that the Church is more than just a field hospital, we are not just supposed to heal those who are wounded in the battle with evil, we are supposed to lead the fight.

      • BXVI

        Catholic first, obviously. Perhaps “conservative” and “progressive” are unfortunate labels since they also apply in the secular political arena but the fact is, they are the labels that best capture the opposing viewpoints within the Church. Benedict was conservative; Francis is a progressive. I suppose we can all sit around and pretend that this division does not exist, that all Popes have the exact same outlook, and that we are all equally pleased with each one’s approach, but I believe we are allowed to debate whether the Pope’s strategy is good for the Church. I do think it is problematic to follow 40 years of doctrinally conservative Popes with one who de-emphasizes doctrine and seems to imply that it isn’t all that important. I also don’t think it is helpful to suddenly be encouraging wide-open and free-wheeling discussion of “settled” issues “without taboos” (per Kasper and Baldisseri, above). That’s pretty much code for “now it’s time for an open discussion of the issues we weren’t allowed to talk about under JP II and Benedict. And any objective analysis would indicate Francis is encouraging it by putting folks like Kasper, Baldisseri, Rodriguez-Maradiaga and others in prominent positions.

        • Maria

          Thank you for clarifying why you used those labels. I understand why you use them but I feel they are cringe worthy still, as I am noticing both faithful and unfaithful Catholics these days using them in order to turn our faith into american politics. It also reinforces the dissenting catholic belief that the church is essentially a “power struggle”. Perhaps, someone should create new labels not associated with secular politics for us all to use. I don’t know if his approach is the best, only time will tell and I will wait. He’s only been pope for a little while. I reassure myself that no matter what, doctrine will not and cannot be susceptible to change so long as god guides our church from error.

    • cajaquarius

      The words of the good never sit well in the ears of the wicked. I have never met a social conservative or traditionalist that wasn’t devoid of empathy, hypocritical in their moral focus, and/or prone to bearing false witness about those in the out-groups in order to paint the other side as evil. Speaking of which, nice one with that tired “liberals just want validation for their drugs, sex, and rock and roll” nonsense.

      I have to say, the fact that he doesn’t kowtow to pharisees does make me respect him much more than the previous gent who saw fit to lie about people I care about. I know he can’t really counter any of the teachings or correct previous errors but he has the aura of a good man.

      • BXVI

        cajaquarius, I love you too.
        You’ve managed to call me wicked, pharasaical, devoid of empathy, hypocritical, and a false witness. And you call Pope Benedict a liar, and state that you believe Church doctrine to be in error, which it is a shame can’t be fixed. Great argument!
        But, will you not agree with me that there are many who want the definition of sin changed? Indeed, is this not THE issue with most “dissenting” Catholics. They want the Church to change some aspect of God’s moral law, whether it be the prohibitions on contraception, abortion, homosex, sex outside marriage, remarriage after divorce, etc. If all they wanted was mercy that would be easy: repent, confess, move on; no “dissent” necessary.

        • cajaquarius

          [You've managed to call me wicked]

          I apologize for that. It was uncalled for. While I firmly believe you work towards iniquitous and misguided ends, it was unfair to call you, as a person, wicked or imply it as I did.

          [... pharasaical, devoid of empathy, hypocritical, and a false witness.]

          Actually, I said in my experience social conservatives tend to be all of these things. I haven’t met all of them but, as someone who is gay, I have never met a single social conservative who didn’t use one or more of the above to argue against or disagree with what I was. Perhaps you are the exception. Perhaps not. It is a general statement about all of those with the social conservative pathology in my admittedly limited experience with family and such.

          [And you call Pope Benedict a liar...]

          That would be because he is a liar. In his 2012 Christmas address where he famously talked of gender theory, he referred to transgender people in a way that made it seem they were simply choosing to change their gender as if changing their underwear in order to turn these people into a scapegoat for the failings of heterosexual families. I have had enough transgender friends to know that, much as it is with me, this is an inherent pillar upon who they are is built.

          Benedict also pushed the idolatrous blasphemy of “metaphysical gender complimentarianism” adopted by John Paul II. It is a view based off of eisegesis and it reduces the Soul (the Breath of God) down to the level of flesh (dirt and slime – eg the world). It makes the penis king of the spirit and is nothing short of worship of the flesh/world – hence idolatry. Of course, I am always open to being proven wrong: if anyone can find the Hebrew or Greek word for complimentarity and where it is in the Tanahk or any of the new testament writings from any of the valid authors (not Paul since he was a false apostle, of course) then I stand ready to retract that.

          [...and state that you believe Church doctrine to be in error, which it is a shame can't be fixed.]

          True. That is what happens when you let any institution claim absolute authority and the power of always being right, though. I am sure they will creatively get around it as soon as enough people leave over it to hit them hard in the pocketbooks. That is the nature of human institutions that depend on donations. Alternately, they will just overlook it like they do contraception now. We’ll see.

          [But, will you not agree with me that there are many who want the definition of sin changed?]

          Not really. For all that talk of modernism and relativism, most people still have a firm sense of good an evil on some deeper level, built in (with the exception of psychopaths and the like). We still love the beyond human archetypes like Superman, Spiderman, and other modern mythological figures. The big change has been an increase in empathy and knowledge, thanks to the information age brought on by the internet. With knowledge comes various view points, friends in other faiths, and so on.

          [Indeed, is this not THE issue with most "dissenting" Catholics.]

          It varies. The issue with a number of dissenting Catholics is being badly catechized so that they do not understand the tenets of their faith very well and don’t realize they have excommunicated themselves as I do. Some have been forced to deal with some “non-negotiable” put forth by the Church and the consequences of it in their family or among friends (my mom grappling with the fact that I don’t and will never feel bad about being gay and reconciling it with her faith, for example). Then there are the optimistic Stephen Colbert types who think the Church will “come around” and argue they are living in the Spirit of the Law, just not the letter.

          [They want the Church to change some aspect of God's moral law, whether it be the prohibitions on contraception, abortion, homosex, sex outside marriage, remarriage after divorce, etc.]

          I can’t speak for anyone else but as a gay man, I would settle for God explaining it in a way I can’t easily see through or rebut. Also, sending messengers who don’t use lies to make me into a monster (like Courage relying on the hate group NARTH for “science” concerning sexual orientation). The Church has done a piss poor job of arguing their case thus far.

          Mankind bent it’s knee to vindictive tyrants and, thus, bending the knee before a petty, capricious deity who would happily kick most of it’s own creation into oblivion and call it justice didn’t seem all that odd. These days, most Catholics have friends who are Muslim, gay, agnostic, and so on. We all live together now, so the idea that most of these people will be kicked into hell by a God who doesn’t have one one hundredth the mercy of a simple human being seems bizarre, unthinkable, and wrong.

          As for the sex, that is sadly one of the problems with feminism. By not addressing the male gender role, sex has remained a commodity to be obtained in the eyes of men and with women breaking free of their gender construct, many have adopted the male archetype to disastrous consequence and sex has become something selfish.

          [If all they wanted was mercy that would be easy: repent, confess, move on; no "dissent" necessary.]

          I discovered I was gay when I fell in love with another guy in my late twenties online. When he fell for me, it scared him off, but I still pray for him and worry about him. If he showed up on my doorstep and wanted to be with me, I would happily take him in, care for him, and bind myself to him in oath. This love has opened me up to greater emotions, joy, and kinship then I ever felt before I met him. I know what I felt for him and what I still feel for him is not evil or worthy of repentance. If God has a problem with it, let Him tell me Himself and stopped hiding behind his underlings like a coward. I have had my fill of their self serving lies, fumbling theology, and uncharitable assumptions of my motives..

          • BXVI

            I know you don’t want to hear it, friend, but you are putting your sexual identity and desires above your love of God and his clear commandments. You are called to a life of celibacy. Quit hating God’s Church and embrace it. If you think I am devoid of empathy and hypocritical for saying that, then there’s not much I can do about that. Love ya.

          • cajaquarius

            Not hypocritical, just misguided. And I won’t argue, would ask that you consider that many of the greatest stories and epics through the ages and the best Hollywood blockbusters today have elements of romance in them. From the Iliad, to Romeo and Juliet, all the way to modern movies like Avatar, Titanic, and so on. Even if I accept the premise that my romantic drives are inherently evil they are no less a part of who I am.

            Love I give freely enough but trust is another matter. If God wants me to trust Him then he needs to give me a sign of good faith that He is worthy of that trust. If the Church truly speaks for God then He should guide them in ways that don’t rely on lies and legalistic loopholes. If He does not grant them the wisdom to convince me and He does not show me the truth of things Himself then I will continue to follow my conscience on most matters all the way to hell and God will have no one but Himself to blame.

            I don’t hate the Church nor God but I also won’t compromise my values, conscience, or morality to save myself from hell at the cost of loved ones, either. Consider it a challenge to your God: prove His case to me and convict me or I will not bow to Him. Not now. Not ever.

          • BXVI

            He’s proven his case already. He created the universe. He created you. He loves you. He died and he rose for you. He offers you his grace and waits hopefully for your response. He offers you eternal salvation. All you have to do is say “yes.” Turn yourself over to him completely, and see what happens.

            God’s plan for humankind with repect to sex and procreation is that all who are not married are called to lives of celibacy, and marriage is between one man and one woman. All sex outside marriage, whether in the form of adultery or fornication, is sinful. Fornication and adultery are mortal sins, you know, so that puts every person who has succumbed to those urges in the same exact position as someone who engages in homo-sex. That is, separated from God. Unmarried hetero people are called to celibacy just as unmarried homosexual people are called to celibacy, and just as married people are called to monogamy. There are perfectly logical, philosophical, and theological grounds for this. Saint John Paul II lays the arguments out beautifully and with love in his Theology of the Body. But, our “post-modern” world just can’t accept this because post-modernity tells us that we are defined primarily, if not exclusively, by our sexuality. Sexual liberty and sexual self-expression have become the highest goods, around which our post-modern culture is built. Anything that challenges an individual to consider that perhaps they need not be defined by their sexual desires must be rejected. Even God. Especially God.
            We all fail; we seek God’s pardon in the confessinal and start anew. We do our best not to fail again. That’s all God asks of us. Consider giving God a chance.
            Peace.

          • cajaquarius

            [God's plan for humankind ... are called to monogamy.]

            One of the primary problems with your reasoning is that, in the case of heterosexuals, the motivation behind the sexual union is what is in question. This is something I agree with. Adultery is a violation of an oath of love and a sacred trust and is actively harmful. Fornication involves using other people for sexual gratification and is actively harmful. I could abide those rules.

            Except in my case, whether I and the other male involved love each other is not even considered. It is boiled down from motivation to simplistic action. I am afraid this doesn’t sit right with me.

            [But, our "post-modern" world ... Even God. Especially God.]

            We aren’t talking about sex, though, we are talking about romance and love. People are driven to become as one flesh together and, you are right, this gets abused and sex becomes a commodity or a selfish activity. But I resent having my romantic drive to fall in love with and seek connection to another man in a lifelong partnership likened to these same fallen drives.

            In the world of your John Paul II, a man is defined entirely by his penis. The penis is an outward expression of the soul and any deviation from this template is not possible because his very particular interpretation of four or five lines (out of thousands) from Scripture support this narrow view.

            Are transgender people the result of a feminine soul inhabiting a male body or visa versa?

            “Impossible,” says the Catholic Church as it stands before the Altar of Aristotle, “for the penis is king of the soul and king of God. God and his Breath, the soul, bow before the penis.”

            You would support that philosophy and claim that it is actually “post modernism” that has a low view of human dignity? Even if it did reduce you to our sexual drive, it is better then being reduced to your genitalia. I never abandoned God. I abandoned the Church. And the more I read it’s manifold errors like this “Theology of the Body”, the more I feel convinced I abandoned it, rightly.

          • Thomas J Skalman

            You have the God-given freedom to abandon the Church if that is your wish.

        • Margaret O

          And in the meantime, millions of babies die through abortion, contraception and in-vitro fertilisation, people throughout the world lose their eternal salvation…. because they are not hearing the Truth

      • Sean Ahern

        Ah, yes. The “conservatives are devoid of empathy” canard.

        http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/castingstones/2008/04/conservatives-give-more-to-cha.html

        • BXVI

          And pharisaical too!

        • cajaquarius

          Charity and empathy aren’t the same thing. I have dealt with enough social conservatives in my family after it was discovered I was gay to witness that first hand. Using steteotypes, bad science nabbed from hate groups, and personal disdain for what they thought I was and making a scene whenever we get together on the holidays. Being pro-life yet supporting drone strikes on civillians, the death penalty, and more. The mafia morality that makes endless excuses for it’s own side while never allowing the same for the other side. A few examples. Social conservatives are nice if you aren’t an out-group.

          Thanks to the internet there is plenty of evidence that they aren’t alone in that too.

  • AugustineThomas

    Patheos is full of Novus Ordo heretics. Right now it’s like a leftist nun in the 70s, but we all know how that turned out..

    • john

      Meant to lead off in my sentence above saying “he (the Holy Father) should want us to be children of God.” But what does my post matter? According to what I see, climate change, gun control, and mercy to everyone but orthodox Catholics seems to be the primary agenda in most dioceses.

      • AugustineThomas

        They have to repress the orthodox or else it will be more obvious what heretics they are.

  • john

    Yes, Kathryn, he wants us to be children of God in the one, Holy Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. Christ specifically said to “go preach the gospel to all nations.” Christ also said to evangelize and baptise ” In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” He never mentions of going to pagan or heretic groups and to “discuss what you have in common, then encourage everyone that as long as you all get along and do the best you can, everyone will be ok.” No, He commissions the disciples to go out and convert everyone possible to the Catholic Faith. There is no common ground to be found with anyone who denies Christ.

    • Guest

      Are you Catholic or Protestant? You seem Protestant. The Church believes there are varying levels of truth in all faiths but that the Church contains the fullness of truth. Therefore, we may see parts of truth in other faiths or rather, other faiths acknowledge some of what we Catholics see as truth. Also, “In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church states that the phrase, “Outside the Church there is no salvation”, means, if put in positive terms, that “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body”, and “is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church”.” This means people of other faiths are not necessarily damned..

      • BXVI

        And it doesn’t necessarily mean that people of other faiths can go to heaven either. What it means is that, for those outside the Church, the best we can say is we pray for them but we can’t know their eternal fate because that’s up to God and anything is possible with God. There are likely very few people on Earth, especially in the West, who can claim “invincible ignorance” of Jesus Christ. Most who reject Him are culpable – if not in willul ignorance, then acting with reckeless disregard or negligence. Jesus said of the towns that rejected his missionary disciples that their fate would be worse than that of Soddom and Gomorrah. The idea that lots of atheists, Muslims, Hindus, etc. are going to heaven is a modernist invention and is not supported by the Bible, the Vatican II documents, or the Catechism.

        • Almario Javier

          The teaching is that, aside from the Saints (and ourselves after death), we won’t know who is saved and who is damned until the Last Judgment. How many are so or likely to be so is an exercise in speculation that, frankly, bores me, but seems to have orthodox theologians on both sides.

          Anyway,vno Pope has ever merely stopped, after finding the commonalities between other religions and Catholicism (and they are there, because even ignorant blind, sinful men have sufficient use of reason that they can find out at least parts of the truth before evangelization). But in many cases it is a necessary step. If we cannot point out that men can find at least some of the truths of the Gospel by natural means, Saint Thomas Aquinas will look foolish, to say the least, as would St. Francis of Assisi.

          • BXVI

            The Church is loathe to say for sure that anyone is in hell because only God knows the answer to that. But, the Church teaches us that as committed Catholic Christians we can be “confident”, though not so bold as to claim to be “assured” of our salvation. On the other hand, she does not teach that anyone who does not follow Christ and obey his Church can have such confidence. Indeed, the default position of people outside the Church is that they are likely not saved and in desperate need of it. That’s why we evangelize. Universalism (everyone is saved), semi-universalism (most people are saved) and indifferentism (it doesn’t really matter which faith you follow) are terrible heresies that are not supported by Sacred Scripture or the Church’s Tradition. Lumen Gentium 16 does not support any of these heresies.

          • Almario Javier

            On this we are all in accord.

  • http://shyanguya.wordpress.com/ @FMShyanguya

    People ask me to quit “spinning” for Pope Francis
    Below is an example why and perhaps an answer to your ‘and no one listened?’.
    WHAT DID THE POPE REALLY SAY?: Exact Quote From Pope Francis Clarifying Cardinal Kasper Agenda | http://throwthebumsoutin2010.blogspot.com/2014/05/exact-quote-from-pope-francis.html

  • Mike

    Wow, excellent, thank you and what a profound and moving prayer.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com Christian LeBlanc

    Wow. That was terrific.


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