What Did the Pope Really Say?


There's been some confusion over this statement from Pope Francis:

"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. . . . 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."

The Huffington Post added to the confusion by using the headline "Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics." Here's my response to all this:

"Redeemed" is not the same as "saved." All the Pope was saying is that Christ died for all mankind. Whether a person chooses to avail himself of that saving work is another matter altogether. The Huffington Post's headline is yet another example of how the media doesn't "get religion," especially, I might add, Catholicism. The Pope's remarks boil down to two -- in my opinion, completely uncontroversial -- points: One, Christ died for all of humanity, and, two, all people, by virtue of their being created in the Divine Image, are capable of doing good, regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof. When the Pope speaks of meeting them "there," the "there" is that common capacity for doing good, not heaven.

It is true that Catholic thinking can accommodate what some see as "universalism," although it's not really the belief that all will be saved as much as the HOPE that all might be saved. But accommodation isn't the same thing as teaching. It's just a way of acknowledging that an idea is not beyond the pale.

I suspect that part of the problem is that we are taking remarks originally made in Italian and rendering them in English. The Italian word for "redemption," "redenzione" indicates "il sacrificio di Cristo per liberare gli uomini dalla schiavitù del peccato e del male," "the sacrifice of Christ that liberates humanity from the slavery of sin and evil." In other words, "redeemed" refers to Christ's sacrifice and not our response.


Comments:

It does seem odd though that exclusiveists emphasize "it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement"(without explaining that the next passage describes how Christ came to deliver from judgement)but forget to give equal literalism to "From every tribe and tongue and people and nation"(which obviously includes some that were extinct before having any observable contact with Christianity).
According to this writer, redeemed or redemption means: "the sacrifice of Christ that liberates humanity from the slavery of sin and evil." Well, that liberation for humanity from the slavery of sin and evil does not apply to those who haven't appropriated that sacrifice for themselves. At Passover, the slain lamb was not enough to keep the angel of death from passing over the Hebrew homes, but they had to apply that blood to the doorposts of their home. So, it is erroneous on the Pope's part to say that Christ's sacrifice liberates even the atheist from the slavery of sin and evil when they haven't applied that liberating blood to the doorposts of their life. Those who haven't done so are still in bondage to that sin and evil.
Troy, doesn't "election" kind of lose its meaning in that scenario?
Could you elaborate, Troy?
biblical redemption
to have redemption is to have the forgiveness of sins, and Paul's readers in Colossae had that. Colossians 1:13-14: "He [God] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." But if to the original speaker, the word means something else, that is just an unfortunate confusion in communication that happens all the time. Biblically, the word "reconciled" would be more an example of the kind of idea he may have been alluded to about everyone, since Paul says (2 Cor 5:19) "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself" followed by (5:20) "we beg on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." There are twin aspects of reconciliation, but when it comes to actual redemption, the purchase and removal from the slave market to God's Son's kingdom, it's coupled with actual forgiveness of sins.
Shouldn't we qualify Limited Atonement by saying that Jesus blood covers the sins of the whole world - past, present, and future, but God's intent in dying was limited to atoning for the Elect/His Bride/believers?

Or is that not a fair statement to say about L.A.?

(I'm a Calvinist)I think our focus with this specific doctrine should be left open-ended and hopeful, with verses like John 3:16's "whosoevers." If salvation is truly open to whosoever believes, then it seems that despite the exclusive nature of God's election, He wants to make it open to the world so even in the face of our natural inability to believe in Jesus, no one can ever rightly rationalize that God's not-choosing them disqualified them from choosing to believe for themselves, and never doing so.
Well Kevin, hopefully the truth of TULIP is about as accurate as the economic value of tulips which coincidently was also once an important belief of many Calvinists.
Actually, one of those points is indeed controversial. Reformed theology teaches that Jesus did NOT die for all of humanity, but only for the elect (that's the L in TULIP--Limited Atonement). The Trinity Hymnal, used by the solidly Reformed PCA, rewrites "And Can It Be" to make that point clear: instead of "bled for Adam's helpless race," the new wording is "bled for all his chosen race."

HuffPo is still wrong, of course--the Pope didn't say that an atheist who does good is redeemed (suggesting that doing good earns one's redemption); he said that everyone is redeemed, and is called to do good even if he is not a believer. And we can join forces with those who are following God's call to do good, even if we disagree on where that call is coming from. (So Nat Hentoff and other Atheists for Life are welcome compatriots in the fight for the unborn, not least because they give the lie to the claim that being pro-life is a "merely religious" position.)
Catholic teaching with regard to the fate of non-Christians is confusing at best. As far as I can make out it says that everyone gets as much chance as they need to choose, so if they die unconfessed then either they really are apostates, or they availed themselves of some other provision by which they did in fact choose Christ.

What disturbs me though is not the statement, it is the people who say "why should we serve God if everyone can be saved anyway." That is a very Scroogian outlook to say the least. I should think our attitude should be the opposite and we should be more encouraged to serve by the thought that people we regarded as lost might actually not be so.
" "Redeemed" is not the same as "saved." "

I can see that distinction, especially as explained here. However, that's not how it comes across to non-Christians. (Or even some Christians who are unfamiliar with thinking about theological terms.)

"All the Pope was saying is that Christ died for all mankind. Whether a person chooses to avail himself of that saving work is another matter altogether."

Again, true. But that's not how it comes across to those unfamiliar with the teachings of Christianity.

"The Huffington Post's headline is yet another example of how the media doesn't "get religion," especially, I might add, Catholicism. "

Do we expect anything different from a hard-core Leftist site?

"One, Christ died for all of humanity, and, two, all people, by virtue of their being created in the Divine Image, are capable of doing good, regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof. When the Pope speaks of meeting them "there," the "there" is that common capacity for doing good, not heaven."

All of which I agree with, if that's how he meant it. But for those who are not only outside of Christianity but openly hostile to it, that's not how it comes across. (You could be right that the language/translation issue may have caused even more confusion.)
I second what Rolley said; a heartiest welcome back, Roberto. And your post is spot-on. Bravissimo.
Well Said, Roberto
.
Good to see you back on these pages.

:)




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