The media in too many places to list (The Independent, Washington Post, Hufflington Post, etc), is reporting in a frenzy that Francis considers Catholics just as likely to go to heaven as atheists, unlike his big mean predecessor Pope Benedict. In fact what Pope Francis had to say was insightful, but an important distinction between redemption vs. salvation and truth vs. goodness is not being reported. To me it's hilarious how many conclusions are being reached that are not from the words he said. In the noted parts on this topic of his homily he said:
“They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”
How is this the groundbreaking revolutionary idea that the media is presenting it as? Have they read Thomas Aquinas? Newsflash: Good men can do evil things. Evil men can do good things…just like Francis says, it is what we all share in common…the ability to do good…or evil. Heck, Aquinas would say that plants do good when they grow and asteroids when they orbit the earth because they are fulfilling their purpose. Congratulations, atheists you have the possibility of doing good! Everyone knows this. He is reaching out to atheists to show that, intellectually Catholics are not painting with too broad of a brush (or should not be). It helps (alot) to have the truth to know what is good so that you can do it, but that doesn't mean you can't do good. Next:
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… [Again...the same topic...] “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
“If we can't meet each other in the truth, at least we can meet each other in the overlap of what we see as good,” is the general message. Natural law is inscribed on every creature and though some will ignore it, its impossible to avoid pursuing “goodness” or you wouldn't get up in the morning.
However, here is the root of the problem theologically in what is being reported: “The Lord has redeemed all of us” does not mean in theology the same thing as “We are all going to be saved at the Last Judgement.” Redemption means “the opportunity to be freed from sin,” a distinction which is hard to expect those in the media to understand…Catholics educated in the last 40 years too for that matter. It simply means that Christ died for everyone, even atheists, and offered everyone the possibility of being saved.” Some choose not to be freed from sin, or to do good. It is in the choice, and it is much easier to be freed from doing evil when you know what is evil and what is good (truth).
In summary, redemption is universal, salvation is individual.
For example, just because an atheist doesn't believe that abortion is wrong doesn't mean that he is not committing evil–it is written on his heart. Just because a Catholic is a Catholic (and thereby believes abortion is wrong) doesn't mean he is going to be any less guilty for committing an abortion–in fact he would be more guilty before God.
Wow! This is groundbreaking! Not really.
As WDTPRS points out, the full text of his homily has not been released and story is coming from one Vatican news outlet which released selected parts of his words (as they do every day). It would be good if the whole homily were released to avoid these issues…especially since it is not clear either what type of magisterial quality daily homilies have.
As a last point, not only is the topic of Francis' sermon not about eternal salvation but rather about redemption, but also this confusion is being used to pit Francis against Benedict as if their teachings contradict. Even more, it is definitely being used as Francis contradicting the big bad judgmental Catholic Church of the last five centuries. I leave you with these quotes from 'big bad judgmental popes”:
“It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.” Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (1863) Pope Pius IX
“There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.” Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (1863) Pope Pius IX
Ok, 1863 sounds like a fairly judgmental period for Catholics. Either Pope Pius IX was insane by writing contradictory statements here….wait they are about different items! Ignorance relates to the truth aspect, following natural law relates to the good. So…if someone attains eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace…they must have somehow got on the ark of salvation before they died…can someone say the traditional terms Baptism by Desire or Omnipotence?
Media, sorry to ruin your frenzy, but there is nothing new here, nor is there a contradiction with Benedict who barely ever spoke on the topic.
Here is your typical media report which I found quite interesting how they commented that its bad for business to consider non-Catholics “wrong”. Actually guys, its the other way around, unfortunately many in the Church believe the same–that identifying error and only promoting what is in common will make the Church grow…strange…to me that makes the Church's identity and mission irrelevant? The truth and the good are important.
Totally over their heads. Many will use this as an excuse to ignore…the truth, to justify their understanding of what is good.
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