Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nicklin’ and Dimin’ Pope Francis

Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you.

David Gibson wrote a very good piece for the Religious News Service which was republished by the Washington Post’s On Faith blog which I think you all ought to read. It is titled Is Pope Francis is a heretic? No, but he does raise questions and here’s an excerpt:

Drawing of Pope Francis
courtesy of Graphic New
Speaking on Wednesday (May 22), Francis said that as human beings created in the image of God, everyone has a “duty to do good.”

“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,” he said, answering his own query. “Everyone! And this blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all!”

Cue the jaw dropping and head scratching. Atheists were pleasantly surprised, conservative Catholics were dazed and confused, and the pope’s comments raced around the Internet; for a while they were the second-most shared piece on Reddit.

So was Francis preaching a form of “universalism”? That is the unorthodox teaching that says, essentially, that all faiths are equal and all are going to heaven, especially if you are nice to people here on earth. It’s also a heresy that Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, spent a career quashing every time he thought he thought he spied a hint of it in some theologian’s writings.

But the short answer to the question is easy: No. Francis was only affirming the doctrine that Christ redeemed the whole world. Whether people accept that belief is another matter.
In fact, popes going back to Leo XIII in 1891 and up through John Paul II – not to mention authoritative texts from the official Catholic Catechism and the Second Vatican Council – have said the exact same thing Francis did…
Please, continue reading here.

Commentary. I think that every Catholic should pay attention to what Pope Francis says and how he says it, without erecting oneself as a judge over the Successor of Peter and presuming to measure his intellect and thought by self-righteous convictions as to what the Pope and the Church are or ought to be. Tragically, there are many in the Catholic blogosphere – here’s but one example – who think themselves qualified to render condemnatory judgments against Pope Francis. They are otherwise good Catholics with whom I would agree about many things, but not in this instance.

Considering that Pope Francis is the Successor of Peter one should be inclined to grant him all benefit by thinking that it is his wish that everything he says be received with the meaning intended by the Mind of the Church. “Nicklin’ and dimin’” everything Pope Francis says in a quest for doctrinal error is a sign of an insecure and immature Catholic conscience. We should all pray not to fall into this temptation.

I like Pope Francis’ simple approach. May be he’s aiming at the simple-minded and if that applies to me I would call that real spiritual progress.

Maybe if we were less like Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:40) and more like Nicodemus (John 3) we would understand Pope Francis better. May the Holy Spirit grant this grace to all of us.

- Read also: Pope Francis rejects attack on old rite and says "treasure tradition" at The hermeneutic of continuity blog