Did Pope Francis Abolish Sin?

Eugenio Scalfari put an improper construction on the words of the Pope
I think it is pushing things to suggest as Scalfari has, that the Pope 'abolished sin' in his Apostolic Exhortation.

I think the problem is that, much like the interviews the Pope has given, His Holiness has sometimes given the impression that Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation. His words sometimes suggest that atheists can be atheists, reject God and it will all be okay because Jesus Christ might or will accept that as long as you follow 'conscience'.

The Pope is on record many occasions discussing sin and God's mercy, so I do not think the charge that the Pope has 'abolished sin' can be levelled at His Holiness. The reason the Holy See took down the Scalfari interview from the Vatican website was because it readers could be left with the impression that Salvation was something about which Jesus Christ (and His sweet Vicar on Earth) is indifferent and that in spite of centuries of Church teaching, the Pope had suddenly suggested belief in the Saviour of the World was not necessary for Salvation. The question over sin's existence has not been, in what I have read from the Pope, in any doubt. The question over whether Jesus Christ is necessary to attain to Salvation, at times, has. There is a subtle difference between these two interpretations of the Pope's words. Of course, it goes without saying that the Holy See removed it from the Vatican website because not only was it already becoming scandalous, but was almost certainly spiritually dangerous to the Faithful.

Of course, this line of thinking is common among Bishops and many clergy, that God is happy with us and loves us in a Barry White kind of way - 'just the way you are'. There is no doubt that God loves all of us uniquely, and receives us as we are, but the idea that He does not desire our repentance or to change our lives, bring us closer to Him, or make us holy is a terrible suggestion that, if taken seriously, could destroy the Church quickly from within. Why bother going to Mass, for example, if God just accepts us 'as we are'?

Such a view would deny what the Saints have taught about divinisation - God desiring to humble Himself and empty Himself of His divinity, assuming our humanity, in order for us to share in His divinity. God became man not just to 'hang out' with us, but to make us sons and daughters of God. Becoming a Saint may not happen for us overnight, nor even as night closes on our life - it may take the chamber of Purgatory for our souls to be brought into the glory of Heaven.

While the image of the Crucified gives us a pretty good idea just how much God loves us, the love of Jesus Christ for every man, woman and child is impossible for us to comprehend in its totality. Yet this is a love that, by the nature of its Holiness and tenderness, transforms penitent hearts, changing them so that even that which is scarlet or even black can become 'whiter than snow' in the abyss of His merciful Heart. This, the power of God at work in the Soul takes place in reality - but not against our own will.

In fact, that God saves us with our permission does not deny those figures in Church history who God has converted by brilliant flash of light and thunderous voice, like St Paul. St Paul wasn't 'forced' into belief, but he was privileged to be given great grace and gracefully chose to respond and co-operate, so I think that we do have a proselytizing Lord, but one who respects our free will, since it is, like Salvation, His sublime gift - a gift we can both accept and refuse. One day, one moment, we can accept it, another day, another moment, we can reject it. After the road to Damascus, St Paul could have thought, 'Well, that was a funny turn I had back there. I think I'll carry on rounding up Christians.'

If God loves - or moreover accepts - Faithful Catholics 'just the way we are' (and there is no need to be converted in the heart) then there really is little need for penance in this life, or indeed Purgatory in the next. If God loves atheists 'just the way they are', while they still lack knowledge of Him (or even loathe Him even as concept - never mind His reality), then there is no need for them to repent and be baptised, as Jesus Himself taught. That is why the Pope's interview was spiritually dangerous - nay toxic - and that, we can safely assume - is why they were taken down from the Vatican's website.

God loves us 'the way we are' in order to take us where He wants us to be - with and in communion with Him in both time and eternity. To live this and to know this is to live the Catholic Faith. Quite simply, if the Pope did not teach error through interview or exhortation, then it is really quite simple to put an erroneous construction on his words. Step forward, then, Eugenio Scalfari. The Pope did not 'abolish sin' - such a construction on his words thus far would be preposterous - yet Mr Scalfari can be 'forgiven' for thinking that His Holiness had done so. Boom, boom!

There is a heartening story from the life of St Jean Vianney concerning the suicide of a woman's husband. St Jean Vianney was given the gift of being able to tell the grieving wife that between the bridge and the water her husband had made an act of contrition and that this one act of contrition had saved his immortal soul. Our sorrow for sin and desire to change is enough for Jesus Christ to work with in order to save us. He longs to save us! The question is whether, following the message the World received from the Pope's announcements in exhortation and interview, men would think of repenting.


tro said…
I find most of the Bishop of Rome's 'spontaneous' comments and 'insights' "spiritually dangerous to the faithful".

He is a Jesuit, mind you ;)
Physiocrat said…
I have not been forward in criticising the Holy Father but he certainly seems to be giving the impression of being accident-prone.
My concern is that the Pope is too busy and occupied with other things to learn how his words are being taken out there in the world. He will not be able learn from the "accidents" if none of the people around him keep him informed.

What struck me about Cardinal Meisner's recent interview was that the Pope seemed genuinely surprised that people could have understood his words in an unCatholic sense. We need more honest people like the Cardinal around the Pope who can keep him abreast of how his words are being received.
Jacobi said…
The Pope did not abolish sin. He cannot. Sin is there in front of us all. It is as obvious as the proverbial sack of potatoes.

Yes, God loves us all, and He wishes us all to join Him in heaven after we die. But the choice is ours. At the Last Judgement, we will be assigned ether to the left, or to the right, dependant on whether we have repented of our fallen nature or not.

He died, terribly, on the Cross, to give us that choice.
The Pope let it be known in November that he goes to confession once a fortnight. This would not seem to imply any waning of belief in the reality and danger of sin. (But yes, Deacon Augustine, I wish someone would give him a smartphone with some 'streetwise' apps on it so he could read for himself what is said!).
viterbo said…
'Why bother going to Mass, for example, if God just accepts us 'as we are?'

I think even some priests look at converts as if they are loopy or totally misunderstand the new understanding of the new faith, because they think they need to convert.

@ Deacon Augustine

The Pope is well-informed:

Vatican Hires Global Firms to Modernize Communications, Accounting
“(…)McKinsey will work on integrating the Vatican's numerous media outlets, including newspaper, television and radio, so that the organization will be "more functional, efficient and modern."
This consulting work will allow the commission—comprising seven laypeople and one member of the clergy—to make recommendations to Pope Francis on better communications. (…)”

Vatican hires world's leading pro-homosexual corporations as advisors
Patricius said…
Haven't you heard? The Church of England has gone one better and abolished Satan!
He may not have abolished "sin", but in EG he all but exiled its proper response: repentance. In a 51,000 word document, "repent" appears TWICE--and that in one sentence... which is just a quotation of Luke 15. If repentance of all things doesn't figure into his "action plan" for the Gospel, one must wonder how seriously sin figures into his truncated expression of the Gospel. The Gospel is only good news because it addresses the BAD NEWS. That's what Scalfari has detected--and he's met Francis at least one, for an extended period of time--yet for telling us what he sees, he just gets thrown under the bus by the League of Soft Ultramontanists once again.