Grassroots Commentary

Pope Francis Redemption for All: 'Do Good'

Albert Maslar · Jun. 24, 2013

Pope Francis in an April 16 homily used his patented homiletic style to celebrate St. Rita, the patron of the impossible and his sermon discussed redemption. Francis delivered a sermon, which in the following extract, spoke on behalf of two personas, his own, and that of an atheist.

“God has redeemed all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!” Then, it veers off; the pope takes on the voice of an unbeliever questioning a priest. “‘Father, even the atheists?’ ‘Even the atheists. Everyone!’ We must meet one another doing good.” Doing good creates a “culture of encounter.” “‘But, Father, I’m an atheist.’ ‘ Do good; we’ll meet there, OK?’ ” We’ll all meet there, where good is done. Dr. King meets Mother Teresa, and both meet Francis of Assisi, and all smile at the wondering atheist standing by the oasis where good is done. Do good, and we’ll all meet there.“

The above excerpt was taken from an article published June 16 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, authored by a 5-year seminarian, and the Pope’s monologue has already been questioned, disputed, clarified and walked back a bit by Vatican authorities. The basis might very well be in conflict with the Bible in which Jesus said there was one path to the Father, and that was through belief in HIM. Does Pope Francis countermand John 14:6 when Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life … No one can come to the Father except through me”? Can it now be “works alone”?

How do musings of Pope Francis comport with a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote from the autobiography published by his Estate in 1998? “I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” How can an evil person doing some good suddenly be redeemed carte blanche? Satan does not lie 100% of the time, else no one would believe him, and so he mixes his lies in with 95% truth to make the lie palatable. What is Pope Francis really saying with his statement to an atheist, “Do good, and we’ll all meet there?”

Faith without works is dead. James 2:14-17:

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But what is the eternal effect of “works without faith” since everyone, including the Hitler and evil dictatorial types do some good, might it be a mixed message from Pope Francis, perhaps giving an opening for those who might do some good, but use that as cover to enable and justify them to be doing the “not-so-good?”

Even non-believers and bad people do good works and give good gifts as depicted in Luke 11:11: “But of whom of you that is a father shall a son ask bread, and [the father] shall give him a stone? Or also a fish, and instead of a fish shall give him a serpent?” That might mean that virtually everyone is good in that respect.

Peter received the keys to the kingdom from the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 16 verses 18-19.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Does that mean a successor to Peter can arbitrarily bind and loose contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ?

How does Pope Francis square what he said, that virtually everyone including atheists, though actually redeemed by the death of Jesus, with Matthew 22:1-14 that narrates the parable about the wedding feast at which one of the guests who did not have on a wedding garment was banished from the banquet? Then there is the episode in which Jesus sent out his disciples, two by two to spread the gospel of good news, preaching the coming of the Messiah, and telling them that if the message were declined, to leave the town and shake its dust off your sandals.

And why when they returned, reported that they were unable to drive out some devils, and Jesus said that it required fasting and prayer to overcome the evil ones?

Pope Francis is absolutely correct with his statement: “God has redeemed all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!” But one can accept or reject the invitation for redemption. Is the message of Pope Francis on target when he adds “Do good; we’ll meet there, OK?” Yes, Jesus redeemed all of us by his suffering and death on the cross, but there are caveats, one of which is Baptism.

Baptism by water is preached by most Christian denominations, but there is a complex doctrine called Baptism of Desire, that reduced to its most basic form means a person given the right opportunity would accept Baptism of Water. A possible example of baptism by desire might be the thief on the cross. There is no record as to whether he was baptized or not, but he received the promise of salvation from Jesus because of his true faith that Jesus was just and not deserving of the death rightly imposed on himself.

Baptism was recognized as mandatory for salvation though Jesus preached Baptism as reflected in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

There is mounting confusion on both sides of the issue of the Redemption sermon by Pope Francis. When the Pope speaks “ex Cathedra,” it is in regard to faith and morals applicable to the entire universal church, which is the only way the Pope can declare absolute dogma with finality. A sermon is not by itself ex Cathedra unless so declared. By virtue of his Apostolic authority, speaking ex Cathedra, the Pope is authorized to define a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the entire Catholic (Greek for Universal) Church with protection from error by Divine assistance promised to him, and is ONLY then possessed of infallibility. This is a rarely used function of the Pope as some Popes NEVER make a declaration ex Cathedra.

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