Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Every human person despite his or her beliefs can do good, and a sharing in good works is the prime place for encounter among those who disagree, Pope Francis said at his Mass today....Well, I know there must be a proper hermeneutic out there somewhere for interpreting the words of the Holy Father. The immediate counterfactual that comes to mind is the depravity of the human heart stemming from Original Sin. The Prophet Isaaiah says, for example, that "all our righteous acts" -- acts performed naturally, apart from divine prevenient grace -- "are as filthy rags" (Is. 64:6), and the Prophet Jeremiah says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9).
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone."
“Even the atheists. Everyone,” Pope Francis stressed.
He said that the saving blood of Christ “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. And we all have a duty to do good.”
In any case, here's what our correspondent on retainer emailed me with the link:
"I read things like this, and I just wonder: (1) How is this theology any different from liberal Protestantism, and (2) why do popes seem keener nowadays on talking to the World than the Church?Okay, here to the rescue come the hermeneutical theology buffs. Pope Francis, on their view, is only saying what has already been said by St. Paul, Pope Leo XIII, Vatican II in Gaudium et spes, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and Fr. Dwight Longenecker "takes it away" with his final explanation of what Pope Francis actually meant to say.
Everyone has a call to holiness, even non-believers? Huh?! This to my mind makes no sense. It raises a whole series of questions. Anyway, If the Pope cannot carefully explain theology, who can?!
I simply am mystified on how Vatican leaders read the signs of the times.
But it's not quite all as easy as that. For one thing, as one commentor on Fr. Longenecker's original post says, "[I am] concerned about the tone. It will be a long haul if 'conservatives' have to keep explaining him, as Fr.Longenecker's post does."
For another thing, however, the efforts to explain can get sloppy; for whatever they may have intended, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul, St. Paul, etc. don't actually say exactly the same thing in the quoted texts. For example, St. Paul says that God desires all to be saved (not that they are saved); that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all (not that all are partakers of the ransom); that the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men (not that all are saved).
John Paul says, however, that all people have become children of God and partakers in the divine nature and heirs to eternal life. This is something altogether different, regardless of what he may have intended by his words.
This sort of seeming carelessness and ambiguity of meaning, this constant need for clarification, for explanation, for hermeneutical rescuers, it seems to me, is a problem.
Update: Here are a list of the Pope's "hermeneutical rescuers":
- Mark Shea’s “Friends don’t let HuffPo writers do theology”
- Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s “Did Pope Francis Preach Salvation By Works??”
- Carl Olson’s “Pope Francis teaches that everyone is saved! Wow! (Hold on. Wait a second.)”
- Brandon Vogt’s “Did Pope Francis Really Say that All Atheists are Redeemed?”
- Jimmy Akin’s “Did Pope Francis Say that Atheists can get to Heaven by Good Works?”
- Scott Hahn’s “Pope Francis’ teaching on Atheists”
- Terry Mattingly’s “Yes, Pope Francis said: “All are ‘redeemed!’ Is that news?”