Pastoral Reflection 28th February 2019
“And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where their worm will never die nor their fire be put out for everyone will be salted with fire.”
The Gospel is from Thursday (28th February), the day on which I write this open letter about my misgivings over current teachings promulgated by ‘Rome.’ The Lord’s teaching on hell is clear, but what about that of Pope Francis?
Many people have accused Pope Francis of universalism, meaning that all people will ultimately be saved regardless of the life they lead. We read in Amoris Laetitia (AL) “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.” (297).
- My first misgiving is that it is unclear whether Pope Francis is denying the reality and or possibility of eternal damnation.
Another serious allegation is that of religious pluralism, meaning that there are many ways to God. This denies the universal mediation of Christ where it is taught that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explained this as "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body" (846).
In a document on Human Fraternity released in February 2019 Pope Francis writes, “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom.”
- This is not Scriptural as “there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is beyond my comprehension why Pope Francis so readily “fosters interfaith dialogue with Protestants, Jews and Muslims and has even rejected the idea that Catholicism represents the only true path to salvation, declaring that God “has redeemed all of us … with the Blood of Christ … not just Catholics … even the Atheists. Everyone!” (Washington Post, 2017).
The most troubling teaching for me is the denial of the state of serious sin in the case of grace gravely illicit acts. AL teaches that “[b]ecause of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity” (305).
To the contrary, Saint JPII taught in Veritatis Splendor that the source of moral action is the object of that action (i.e., the good toward which the will deliberately directs itself – see also CCC 1751, 1756). It is false to claim that morality must always take into consideration one’s intentions and circumstances when the object is intrinsically evil. Hence, it would be impossible for a person to be living in an objective situation of serious sin and remain in the grace of God, and even grow in grace and charity!
- As Pope Francis was referring to the intrinsic evil of adultery (c.f., AL 305), his teaching reveals his espousal of revisionist moral theology where the demands of upright, moral and future oriented living are relaxed due to the new principle of mitigating intrinsically evil acts.
These three points led me to the conclusion of my homily on the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time. “Don’t be deceived when the demand of upright, moral and future oriented living is relaxed and when nothing is seen to be immoral. Don’t be deceived when the Church tells you there is no hell, freeing you to do whatever you want in the present. Do not be deceived when the Church tells you that pluralism in religion is willed by God thus attenuating the demands of God in following our Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, trust not in human ways, but in the Divine Will.”