Breaking: Pope opposes abortion

posted at 2:01 pm on September 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Yes, I’m being facetious with that headline.  After watching the media demonstrate their lack of comprehension of the Catholic Church yet again this week, the LifeNews update on Pope Francis might still come as a shock to some journalists:

A day after an interview the mainstream media used to claim Pope Francis is backing down on the Catholic Church’s pro-life teachings, the Pope condemned abortion in strong terms, saying unborn babies are “unjustly condemned” when killed in abortions.

In the text of a message the Pope delivered to a group of Catholic doctors this morning, as distributed by the Vatican today, Pope Francis soundly condemned abortion.

“Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world,” he said.

Pope Francis condemned the “throwaway culture” abortion promotes, saying, “Our response to this mentality is a ‘yes’ to life, decisive and without hesitation. ‘The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are precious, but this one is fundamental –- the condition for all the others’”.

None of this is new.  And in fact, none of what Pope Francis said in his lengthy interview this week is new, either, not for anyone who reads the catechism of the Catholic Church and understands the pontiff’s emphasis on evangelization.  Unfortunately, that leaves out a vast majority of the secular media, which led me to tweet this out yesterday:

By that time, many already had — and that created a widespread impression that Pope Francis said that the Church should back off its opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. For instance, this was ABC News’ headline for the story: “Pope Warns Church on Divisive Rules on Abortion, Gays.”

However, that wasn’t what the Pope said, let alone meant.  The pontiff was warning about a divisive approach to everyone, and a lack of focus on the core message of God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ. Francis gave an analogy of the Church as a “field hospital,” which needs to triage the wounds before true healing can take place.  That means first proclaiming Jesus Christ as God’s salvation and victory over all sin based on sheer love the Creator has for His creation.

Here’s what Francis actually said:

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.

“How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”

The interviewer then asked specifically about people who have divorced and remarried, and same-sex couples, and asked this specific question:

What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

Pope Francis then finishes by explaining what evangelical Catholicism looks like in practice — from the pulpit:

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

As the Pope states, it’s not a matter of one thing or another. It’s a matter of priority — a triage of the soul.  We must start first and always with the Good News: God loves you, and sent His only son Jesus Christ who triumphed over man’s sinful nature so that all could be saved. Only then will proper formation (catechesis) occur, and only after that can we express the moral consequences of remaining unrepentant in sin. If we don’t start with the message of salvation first, though, we risk reducing the Church “to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” as the Pope says in another part of the interview.

The only way anyone can miss the message of evangelization and salvation is to pull isolated sentences out of that response without the overall context. And that is exactly what happened, as it happens so often in mainstream media reporting on Pope Francis, whose determination to engage in pastoral outreach leaves many opportunities for the media to get it wrong.

George Weigel, who literally wrote the book on Evangelical Catholicism (and whom I interviewed in Rome this year), didn’t get fooled by the spin.  He points out that Francis himself reiterated that the Catholic Church teachings on the modern ills of society are clear, but can only be healed by bringing people face to face with Christ first, rather than “rules” — and that this approach has been clearly stated since Vatican II:

And how are the wounds of late-modern and postmodern humanity to be healed? Through an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. “The most important thing, “ Francis insisted in his interview, “is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” The Church of the 21st century must offer Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life (as John Paul II liked to put it). The moral law is important, and there should be no doubt that Francis believes and professes all that the Catholic Church believes and professes to be true about the moral life, the life that leads to happiness and beatitude. But he also understands that men and women are far more likely to embrace those moral truths — about the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death; about human sexuality and how it should be lived — when they have first embraced Jesus Christ as Lord. That, it seems to me, is what the pope was saying when he told Antonio Spadaro that “proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things.” These are what make “the heart burn: as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. . . . The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

Francis underscores that “the teaching of the Church is clear” on issues like abortion, euthanasia, the nature of marriage, and chastity and that he is “a son of the Church” who accepts those teachings as true. But he also knows that “when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” That “context” is Jesus Christ and his revelation of the truth about the human person. For as the Second Vatican Council taught inGaudium et Spes, its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly comes clear. For Adam, the first man, was the type of him who was to come. Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.” …

Francis’s radical Christocentricity — his insistence that everything in the Church begins with Jesus Christ and must lead men and women to Jesus Christ — also sheds light on his statement that there is a hierarchy of truths in Catholicism or, as he put it, that “the dogmatic and moral teachings of the Church are not all equivalent.” That does not mean, of course, that some of those those teachings are not really, well, true; but it does mean that some truths help us make sense of other truths. The Second Vatican Council reclaimed this notion of a “hierarchy of truths” in Unitatis Redintegratio, its Decree on Ecumenism, and it’s an important idea, the pope understands, for the Church’s evangelical mission.

If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord — if you’ve never heard the Gospel — then you aren’t going to be very interested in what the Catholic Church has to say in Jesus’s name about what makes for human happiness and what makes for decadence and unhappiness; indeed, you’re quite likely to be hostile to what the Church says about how we ought to live. By redirecting the Church’s attention and pastoral action to the Church’s most basic responsibility — the proclamation of the Gospel and the invitation to friendship with Jesus Christ — Pope Francis is underscoring that a very badly disoriented 21st century will be more likely to pay attention to evangelists than to scolds: “We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. . . . The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” The Church says “yes” before the Church says “no,” and there isn’t any “no” the Church pronounces that isn’t ultimately a reflection of the Church’s “yes” to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel, and to what Christ and the Gospel affirm about human dignity.

Pope Francis is the most pastoral-centered pontiff of our lifetimes, aiming at a real evangelization that has to lead with love and Jesus Christ, not with rules and rejection.  That doesn’t mean rules have changed or have lost importance; it’s just that Francis wants them in their proper role of formation after bringing people into the fold through the power of God’s love, after we tend to the “wounds” of sin.  If one reads the whole interview, Pope Francis’ meaning is unmistakable.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has certainly been on the front lines of fights against abortion, marriage, and contraception as president of the USCCB, explains this to viewers of CBS This Morning. Noting that CBS calls him more often whenever Francis gives an interview, Dolan challenges CBS to think that maybe Francis wasn’t just talking about Catholics when he says we need to rethink our priorities:

Update: Thomas McDonald pronounces himself fortunate for having read the interview before seeing any of the media interpretation of it.  After reviewing the latter, he argues that the media is making another false narrative about the church, too:

In a sense, we have the split sometimes understood by the image of “John versus Peter”: John the mystic, and Peter the man of action; one esoteric, representing the head (John), the other exoteric, representing the heart (Peter). Together, they built up the Church as the most important of the apostles.

It’s overly simplistic to call Benedict the head and Francis the heart, since each had qualities of the other, as did John and Paul. (Indeed, in the interview Francis makes a claim to a mystical sensibility in his understanding of the Ignatian exercises, while Benedict rejected the idea that he was a mystic.) However, it’s a useful analogy when trying to understand the pastoral emphasis of each man.

Reading Francis as evidence of some new day dawning in the Church is misguided. There is not a hairsbreadth of difference between the theology of Francis and Benedict.

This is exactly what the affirmative orthodoxy of Benedict is all about: the “yes” of Christ. The Church is a “yes” to life, and life in abundance, while the world is the “no.” All of his writing and preaching centered on this idea of the yes of faith in the risen Christ.

What we have is a shift in perception, which is a potent thing in the age of mass media. Francis was a new beginning. The die was cast with Benedict, who had gotten an undeserved reputation as a grim inquisitioner. Francis was a new page, totally blank as far as the world, and indeed much of the Church, is concerned.

That he articulates the message of the Church of love, concern, and hope–the same message of Benedict, John Paul II, Paul VI, and every other pope back to Peter–with good humor, clarity, and simplicity is a blessing.


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Comment pages: 1 2

jephthah on September 20, 2013 at 7:10 PM

How’s your daughter?

Akzed on September 20, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Heh.

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:06 PM

Ha, i only took his name because of the affinity I feel towards him. His daughter is is quite well I’m sure.

jephthah on September 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Double heh.

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Ed, I very much appreciate your posting a clarification of the Pope’s comments in various interviews he has done. I must admit that I was becoming very perplexed as to where he stood on various issues which was in turn souring me toward the Catholic church. Also, after reading your post, my husband arrived home from work exasperated asking me if I had heard what the Pope said about gay marriage and abortion. As it turns out, he had been listening to NPR while driving home from work and they were spinning the Pope’s comments to imply that the Catholic church was now accepting gay marriage and abortion. I quickly showed him your post on the topic which enlightened him quite a bit. :)

KickandSwimMom on September 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Does Ed Morrissey ever look in the mirror and ask himself whether he’s carrying out God’s mission?

lostmotherland on September 20, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Given the fact that the first three seemed to have stopped posting comments here, it’s quite likely they were banned.

Ed’s excelling in his mission by batting .750. Your average of .250 indicates you need more work in the cage.

rukiddingme on September 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

The Church will not change Her stance on what is popular such as issues like gay “marriage”…

It does not bend its positions on “fads”…

The Church has been and will remain against abortion and gay “marriage”…

In fact in the church a marriage is much more than a man and woman living together…

Its a sacrament called Holy Matrimony… vows taken before God…

What Frances was saying is just as Jesus dined with sinners the Church does not judge and all are welcome…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:25 PM

The Church will not change Her stance on what is popular such as issues like gay “marriage”…

It does not bend its positions on “fads”…

The Church has been and will remain against abortion and gay “marriage”…

In fact in the church a marriage is much more than a man and woman living together…

Its a sacrament called Holy Matrimony… vows taken before God…

What Frances was saying is just as Jesus dined with sinners the Church does not judge and all are welcome…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:25 PM

But what about: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-assures-atheists-you-dont-have-to-believe-in-god-to-go-to-heaven-8810062.html

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:29 PM

It’s not just the social issues where I think he’s not communicating very well, but also on eternal spiritual questions, e.g. his most recent quote on salvation and those who reject God: “the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.”
He stumbled on the same question earlier this year.

whatcat on September 20, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Considering that the comments about nonbelievers have been said twice, I’m thinking that this isn’t a mistake. Also, since his quotes on gays have been repeated a few times, I’m thinking that this isn’t the Pope being misquoted. He is speaking in very blunt, simple terms. It isn’t at all confusing. I think that conservative Catholics should just admit that Pope Francis is a moderate. I’ve heard him compared to both John XXIII and John Paul I. So yes, you will have to cope with a pope who you aren’t going to like for the next five to eight years.

Illinidiva on September 20, 2013 at 11:30 PM

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:30 PM

???:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-assures-atheists-you-dont-have-to-believe-in-god-to-go-to-heaven-8810062.html

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Again it seems the headline is to cause shock…

The Pope is simply stating for those to obey there conscience for those that do not believe in Jesus…

As Catholics we do not believe that Hindu’s go to hell or someone who has not heard of Jesus goes to hell…

We simply cannot judge as we will all stand before God on judgement day and he will judge us…

We as mere mortals cannot say who is going to heaven or hell…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Well the Southern Poverty Law Center (or whatever its called) wants to put your name on the list of evil doers IronMarshal since you’ve outed yourself as an orthodox catholic.

As for me? I’m very very tired of having to get people like ED to explain what Pope Francis said. As a catholic, I’m getting whiplash! What wasn’t discussed b/c its so dull but important is the mass itself. Pope Francis finally said that the latin mass was a-ok to do, the trident mass, instead of the one where everyone holds sweaty hands, sings campfire songs, and in some places holds the mass outside next to trees giving the eucharist into napkins. Yep, all post Vatican II excesses. Yet I still wonder why Pope Francis told the Franciscan Friars in Europe that they couldn’t do the long form latin mass anymore.

He speaks one day one way and the next sends a memo taking it all back. Like I said – whiplash.

athenadelphi on September 20, 2013 at 8:46 PM

The Southern Poverty Law Center is mainly concerned with groups like the Fatima Center and the SSPX. These groups are anti-Semitic. There is no way of denying that.

And as a good pastor, Francis understands that different people have different spiritual needs, so he thinks that Benedict’s decision was wise. However, I think that traditionalists should allow for the same for those who like the post Vatican II Mass rather than demanding everyone worship like you do. If you are not attending the Mass, it is none of your business.

And the Franciscan Friars have been placed on restriction because they decided to politicize the Mass and this caused tensions in the group.

Illinidiva on September 20, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Again it seems the headline is to cause shock…

The Pope is simply stating for those to obey there conscience for those that do not believe in Jesus…

As Catholics we do not believe that Hindu’s go to hell or someone who has not heard of Jesus goes to hell…

We simply cannot judge as we will all stand before God on judgement day and he will judge us…

We as mere mortals cannot say who is going to heaven or hell…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

What Pope Francis said:

First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.

Given that—and this is fundamental—God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.

In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil.

The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/did-pope-francis-say-atheists-dont-need-to-believe-in-god-to-be-saved-9-thi

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM

Again it seems the headline is to cause shock…

The Pope is simply stating for those to obey there conscience for those that do not believe in Jesus…

As Catholics we do not believe that Hindu’s go to hell or someone who has not heard of Jesus goes to hell…

We simply cannot judge as we will all stand before God on judgement day and he will judge us…

We as mere mortals cannot say who is going to heaven or hell…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men” (CCC 780).

The following quotations from the Church Fathers give the straight story. They show that the early Church held the same position on this as the contemporary Church does—that is, while it is normatively necessary to be a Catholic to be saved (see CCC 846; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14), there are exceptions, and it is possible in some circumstances for people to be saved who have not been fully initiated into the Catholic Church (CCC 847).


However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM

davidk on September 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM

You see no where does he say Atheists will go to heaven…

As Catholics we do not talk about who is going to heaven or hell as we believe God is the only judge…

He saying God’s mercy has no limits…

And is talking about the conscience be your guide for those who do not believe in Jesus…

I see nothing that is different than the Church’s teaching here…

If a Jew before Jesus’s time listened to there conscience were they saved???

Or someone who lives int he jungles of Africa and they listen to there conscience are they saved???

You can tell the headline was written by a non- Catholic because we don’t talk about if someone is saved or not…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM

CCC847…”Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience–those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

The Holy Spirit at work…

MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM

The Pope is Catholic.

Tune in tomorrow to learn more about bears and the woods.

bmmg39 on September 21, 2013 at 12:06 AM

I have to go to sleep but I will leave by saying this pope is extremely non judgmental…

Probably in a time when we need it as there seems to be great vitriol towards each other especially in this country as I believe this president has done more to divide us than anyone ever before…

Also those in the liberal press are hoping that the Church will change its stance on some of these issues…

That’s simply not going to happen but it sure seems to sell when they can put up a big headline…

And lastly as far as the Church being socialist this simply not true…

While we believe in taking care of the poor and disabled we do not believe in laziness which is the problem today as a lot of able bodied Americans get welfare instead of working…

MGardner on September 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM

Good nite

MGardner on September 21, 2013 at 12:12 AM

And is talking about the conscience be your guide for those who do not believe in Jesus…
MGardner on September 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM

There’s more than a few problems with that, for example:

If someone’s conscience has led them to reject Jesus, then they are following their conscience.

Also, “let your conscience be your guide” is not always sage advice. Think “Charles Manson”.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM

There’s more than a few problems with that, for example:

If someone’s conscience has led them to reject Jesus, then they are following their conscience.

Also, “let your conscience be your guide” is not always sage advice. Think “Charles Manson”.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM

In Revelation 3, Jesus says to the church at Laodicaea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” I take this to mean that an honest atheist, who makes a genuine effort to learn the truth and to act accordingly, has a better chance of attaining heaven than someone who simply doesn’t care.

Your conscience is your awareness of moral law, written on your heart and mind by God. It is possible for the conscience to be corrupted by sin, or numbed. I doubt Charles Manson was “following his conscience” when he committed his crimes, but who knows? Who are you to say that he won’t make it to heaven?

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 3:10 AM

I heard Glenn Beck going on about this yesterday, and wondered, since he knows how the media works, how he could be fooled into thinking that the Pope was going soft on abortion. The media has their own narrative they are looking for from the Pope, and the Pope does not know what the media is doing with his utterances in far away lands.

Fleuries on September 21, 2013 at 8:06 AM

In Revelation 3, Jesus says to the church at Laodicaea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” I take this to mean that an honest atheist, who makes a genuine effort to learn the truth and to act accordingly, has a better chance of attaining heaven than someone who simply doesn’t care.
joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 3:10 AM

That’s speaking specifically to believers – more specifically, Christians at the church in Laodicea. Nothing to do with atheists.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

On this:

I doubt Charles Manson was “following his conscience” when he committed his crimes, but who knows?
joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 3:10 AM

Many such acts have been carried out by people who thought they were even actually doing God’s will. Without the right basis for his conscience a person won’t be able to follow a conscience that leads him to do good.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Well after centuries it’s come to this. When your totalitarian, supremacist organization can no longer arrest, torture, garrote and burn people for not agreeing with church authorities and you start losing more & more followers, you just have to make a smiley face and talk tolerance. Bet, though, there are some in the Vatican who miss the good old days.

At least for some time now it’s only the Islamic mullahs and imams that can call for arrest, torture and death for people who don’t agree with them. But then they’ve make it hard to leave the fold from the beginning with their explicit death to apostate Sharia law – not wanting to make the same lax mistake the Church made.

Chessplayer on September 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM

As it turns out, [my husband]had been listening to NPR while driving home from work and they were spinning the Pope’s comments to imply that the Catholic church was now accepting gay marriage and abortion. I quickly showed him your post on the topic which enlightened him quite a bit. :)

KickandSwimMom on September 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM

The PBS NewsHour was doing the same kind of spinning.

Truthfully, I blame the Pope somewhat for this. He’s been shooting from the hip, making a lot of political comments and unnecessarily confusing people. He needs to just calm down a little bit.

Burke on September 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM

As Catholics we do not talk about who is going to heaven or hell as we believe God is the only judge…

He saying God’s mercy has no limits…

And is talking about the conscience be your guide for those who do not believe in Jesus…

I see nothing that is different than the Church’s teaching here…

If a Jew before Jesus’s time listened to there conscience were they saved???

Or someone who lives int he jungles of Africa and they listen to there conscience are they saved???

You can tell the headline was written by a non- Catholic because we don’t talk about if someone is saved or not…

“We are compelled in virtue of our faith to believe and maintain that there is only one holy Catholic Church, and that one is apostolic. This we firmly believe and profess without qualification. Outside this Church there is no salvation and no remission of sins, the Spouse in the Canticle proclaiming: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. One is she of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her’ (Canticle of Canticles 6:8); which represents the one mystical body whose head is Christ, of Christ indeed, as God. And in this, ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5). Certainly Noah had one ark at the time of the flood, prefiguring one Church which perfect to one cubit having one ruler and guide, namely Noah, outside of which we read all living things were destroyed… We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam sanctam

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the “eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.”

Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino

“It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth Itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members. For we have a surer word of the prophet, and in writing to you We speak wisdom among the perfect; not the wisdom of this world but the wisdom of God in a mystery. By it we are taught, and by divine faith we hold, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and that no other name under heaven is given to men except the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in which we must be saved. This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church… For the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. With reference to those words Augustine says: ‘If any man be outside the Church he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for Father since he has not the Church for mother.’”

Pope Leo XII (1823–1829), Encyclical Ubi Primum

“Such is the nature of the Catholic faith that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole, or as a whole rejected: This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum

It sounds to me like past Popes have had a lot to say about who is saved and who is not.

frank63 on September 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Wait, so you’re telling me that some people might interpret a message from the Pope and the Church’s teaching in general in a manner that might forward their own political interest? I’m bloody-well shocked!

/takesrelationshipadvicefrom60yearoldvirgin

King B on September 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM

That’s speaking specifically to believers – more specifically, Christians at the church in Laodicea. Nothing to do with atheists.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Every passage in the Bible, or at least every important one, has meanings beyond the literal. Otherwise, why read it?

At any rate, it certainly does have to do with atheism/unbelief. What else could “hot or cold” mean? He’s saying: love me, or reject me, either is better than not caring (or pretending to care but not living what you claim to believe). Remember, he’s the way, the truth, and the life. If you care about the truth, that’s something he looks favorably upon.

Many people don’t even believe in truth these days.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM

It sounds to me like past Popes have had a lot to say about who is saved and who is not.

frank63 on September 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM

The Church teaches that there are two sins against the theological virtue of Hope. They are Despair and Presumption. It is wrong to teach or believe that one cannot be saved. That’s despair. It’s also wrong to teach that salvation is easy or can be guaranteed or that everyone will be saved regardless of themselves. That’s presumption.

It is therefore absolutely imperative that we take the sacraments and commandments of our Lord seriously — that we insist on baptism, confession, communion; that we insist that one must (re)join the Church; that we insist on obedience to the ten commandments — but we are also reminded that God is not bound by his own sacraments, and we can hold out hope for mercy for those who died without baptism or outside of a state of grace, etc.

In other words, these Popes are entirely justified in taking these matters seriously. We cannot presume that anyone is saved outside of the Church.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 11:32 AM

“It is wrong to teach or believe that one cannot be saved” joe_doufu

Pope Boniface said “This we firmly believe and profess without qualification. Outside this Church there is no salvation”. Now you’re trying to tell me the exact opposite, that the statement “no salvation outside the church” must be qualified.

I’m sorry but the Catholic Church speaks out of both sides of it’s mouth when it comes to salvation outside the Church. Which is why there is so much confusion in contemporary Catholicism.

frank63 on September 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM

On other sites, people are all perplexed because they stupidly believed the pope was going against or was about to change church doctrine.

I think it would be totally sweet if all the people who blindly criticize the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception would, for the first time in their lives, actually learn what that stance is, what the reasons for it are, and what natural family planning is (and isn’t). It might prove truly educational for them and they might learn that the church isn’t as off-base as they think it is…

bmmg39 on September 21, 2013 at 12:06 PM

frank63, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same stuff in the Bible. John 6:54 for example makes it clear that no one will live unless they receive the Eucharist. Elsewhere the Bible talks about mercy and the virtue of Hope. God makes the rules, and the Popes are sipmly expressing them here. But God is not bound by the rules.

This is really the fundmental folly of Protestantism: believing that God is not free to be merciful or to condemn.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

This is really the fundmental folly of Protestantism:believing that God is not free to be merciful or to condemn.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Where do you get that from Protestants?

God makes the rules and we follow them. Period.

njrob on September 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

This is really the fundmental folly of Protestantism: believing that God is not free to be merciful or to condemn.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

The folly of Catholicism is believing that Popes speak infallibly in matters of faith AND that the church never changes it’s dogmas. Was Pope Eugene in error when he said that Jews have no part in eternal life? If he was, then he wasn’t speaking infallibly (remember the quote I provided was from a papal bull, not some off the cuff interview). If he was not in error, then he stands contradicted by the modern Church which says Jews do not need to be converted. (The prayer for the conversion of Jews was removed from the liturgy after Vatican II). So who is right, Pope Eugene or the modern Church?

frank63 on September 21, 2013 at 12:47 PM

That’s speaking specifically to believers – more specifically, Christians at the church in Laodicea. Nothing to do with atheists.
whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

At any rate, it certainly does have to do with atheism/unbelief. What else could “hot or cold” mean? He’s saying: love me, or reject me
joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Nope, because by definition an atheist has already rejected Jesus. Your personal take doesn’t make sense at all.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 1:04 PM

This is really the fundmental folly of Protestantism: believing that God is not free to be merciful or to condemn.
joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

St. Paul was a Protestant?
“Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers: Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (Douay-Rheims)

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I have yet to see anything the LSM has said come close to what new pope has actually said. Period. They are absolutely spinning it to what they want him to say.

TfromV on September 21, 2013 at 7:35 PM

St. Paul was a Protestant? whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I’m pretty sure he was Anglican.

Akzed on September 21, 2013 at 8:19 PM

This is really the fundmental folly of Protestantism:believing that God is not free to be merciful or to condemn.

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Where do you get that from Protestants?

God makes the rules and we follow them. Period.

njrob on September 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Protestant “theology” is that if you say some magic words (“I take Jesus as my personal savior” or some variation on that) then you catch God in a kind of legal loophole and are guaranteed heaven no matter what. This denies God’s freedom to condemn. It is also why some Protestants are so vehemently opposed to infant baptism. Like the early workers in the vineyard, they think it’s unfair that God might choose to save some people who didn’t do the “work” of saying the magic words. They would deny God’s freedom to be merciful.

Nope, because by definition an atheist has already rejected Jesus. Your personal take doesn’t make sense at all.

whatcat on September 21, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Your objection doesn’t make any sense. My take – which is the pretty standard take – makes sense. Those who reject Jesus are the “cold” part of “hot or cold”. He’s saying that he’d prefer that to somebody who was simply indifferent.

St. Paul was a Protestant?

Where does St Paul say that God is not free to be merciful?

joe_doufu on September 21, 2013 at 10:24 PM

There’s quite a demand on the left to liberalize the church so that various groups can claim they are members even though they do not share its core beliefs: this includes the pro-choice abortion lobby, the gay marriage lobby, the anti-celibacy lobby and, notoriously, hypocrites like Nancy Pelosi who rolls out her religion every few years around election-time while actively supporting the murder of unborn children, the destruction of family life and the underminng of the Catholic church at every turn.

virgo on September 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM

Truthfully, I blame the Pope somewhat for this. He’s been shooting from the hip, making a lot of political comments and unnecessarily confusing people

If Francis has an issue with the Church he could release a statement which could be read (along with hard copies to be distributed) at every Mass world wide.

Talking to the press about perceived shortcomings of believers who are ‘obsessed’ with life and other church teachings is a strange way to attempt to guide the flock.

shinty on September 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Well stated shinty.

SANTA on September 23, 2013 at 3:30 PM

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