What’s one more at this point…
More “Papal” Heresy:
Francis the Lutheran denies Catholic Dogma on Merit
And now, another post for your “You sedevacantists are just a bunch of Protestants!” file.
On Tuesday, June 11, the Argentinian apostate Jorge Bergoglio graced the people unfortunate enough to be attending his daily worship service at the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta with yet another homily. In it, he revealed that he denies the Catholic dogma on the possibility of supernatural merit before God by the justified.
The heretical ramblings of the false pope, who goes by the stage name of Francis, were reported by the Vatican’s in-house propaganda arm, Vatican News:
Christian life, said Pope Francis, is lived gratuitously. “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give,” he said, was how Jesus described the core of salvation.
He said salvation cannot be bought, because God “saves us free of charge” and “requires no payment”.
As God has done with us, so we are to do with others, he said.
“Realize that the Lord is full of gifts for us. He asks just one thing: that our hearts be open. When we say ‘Our Father’ and we pray, we open our heart, allowing this gratuitousness to enter. Often when we need some spiritual grace, we say: ‘Well, now I will fast, do penance, pray a novena…’ Fine, but be careful: this is not done to ‘pay’ or ‘buy’ grace. We do it to open our hearts so that grace might enter. Grace is freely given.”
All God’s gifts, said Pope Francis, are given without cost. And he warned that sometimes “the heart folds in on itself and remains closed”, and it is no longer able to receive “such freely given love”.
We should not bargain with God, he said.
“In our spiritual life we always run the risk of slipping up on the question of payment, even when speaking with the Lord, as if we needed to bribe the Lord. No! That is not the correct path… I make a promise, in order to expand my heart to receive what is already there, waiting for us free of charge. This relationship of gratuitousness with God is what will help us to have the same rapport with others, whether it be in Christian witness, Christian service, or the pastoral work of those who guide the people of God. We do so along the way. Christian life means walking. Preach and serve, but do not make use of others. Serve and give freely that which you have received freely. May our life of holiness be permeated by this openness of heart, so that the gratuitousness of God – the graces that He wishes to give us without cost – may enter our hearts.”
(Devin Watkins, “Pope at Mass: ‘Serve others freely, as God freely loves you’”, Vatican News, June 11, 2019; italics removed; underlining added.)
What we see here is a clever attempt to instill heresy in the souls of the hearers by means of half-truths, which are the most dangerous kinds of lies. Like most heretics, Francis is not ashamed even to hijack a passage found in Sacred Scripture to serve as the foundation of his denial of dogma; in this case, Mt 10:8: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.”
Here is a video clip showcasing this spiritual atrocity:
It is evident that Francis denies the possibility and value of the justified meriting graces and even Eternal Life itself.
To understand what this means, let’s first take a look at what a pre-Vatican II dogmatic theology dictionary says concerning this. It defines the concept of merit thus:
The right to a reward due for a morally good action. Merit can be de condigno (condign; adequate), if there is an equal proportion between the good act and its reward, and de congruo (congruous; of convenience) if, in the lack of such proportion, there intervenes some reason of convenience or of benevolence that moves the rewarder. Supernatural merit is that which arises from an action performed under the influence of divine grace, and thus in relationship with the supernatural end: the beatific vision. Five conditions are required for supernatural merit: (1) state of mortal life (status viatoris – state of the wayfarer), because death is the end of the test…; (2) state of sanctifying grace, because sin renders relationship impossible with God; (3) free will, without which there is no responsibility and, therefore, no reason for reward or punishment; (4) good work, since evil deserves punishment; (5) divine agreement or consent (accepting and ordering the good work to its reward), because the supernatural order is absolutely gratuitous and no creature can acquire a true and proper right with reference to God, without His own divine disposition in this regard. Man, fulfilling these conditions, can merit, even condignly (de condigno), the increase of grace and life eternal, called a “crown of justice” by St. Paul.
Christ, during His mortal life, merited for Himself the glorification of His human body (His soul already enjoyed the beatific vision), and for the whole human race He merited, especially by His passion and death, all supernatural gifts and life eternal. His merit, like His satisfaction, has an infinite value, and this value is, more probably, according to the rigor of justice (i.e., implies the proper and full concept of justice), because it is the merit of the Word of God Himself, who is the operating subject in His assumed nature. Mary has merited de congruo for us all that Jesus merited de condigno. Lutheranism, holding human nature intrinsically corrupted by original sin to the point of the loss of free will, denied all possibility of merit in man. The Council of Trent condemned this error, asserting both free will and, under the influence of grace, merit [Denz. 809 and 842].
(Pietro Parente et al., eds., Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology [Milwaukee, MN: Bruce Publishing, 1951], s.v. “merit”; italics given; underlining added.)
It is certainly true that fallen man cannot, by his natural powers, merit grace. God gratuitously, that is, freely, condescended to offer us His grace so that we would have the opportunity to right our relationship with Him. Thus the Council of Trent taught dogmatically:
It [the Synod] furthermore declares that in adults the beginning of that justification must be derived from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby without any existing merits on their part they are called, so that they who by sin were turned away from God, through His stimulating and assisting grace are disposed to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and cooperating with the same grace, in such wise that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself receiving that inspiration does not do nothing at all inasmuch as he can indeed reject it, nor on the other hand can he of his own free will without the grace of God move himself to justice before Him. Hence, when it is said in the Sacred Writings: “Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you” [Zach. 1:3], we are reminded of our liberty; when we reply: “Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted” [Lam. 5:21], we confess that we are anticipated by the grace of God.
[Canon 3:] If anyone shall say that without the anticipatory inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without His assistance man can believe, hope, and love or be repentant, as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be conferred upon him: let him be anathema.
(Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 5; Denz. 797, 813)
In the sense just explained, it is true to say that God saves us “free of charge.” There is nothing any of us did, or could have done, to dispose God to have mercy on the fallen human race and restore it to a state of justification. It was entirely God’s own goodness and mercy that did this: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man may glory” (Eph 2:8-9).
However, now that God has shown mercy to us and freely given us the opportunity to be reconciled with Him, we can and must willingly cooperate in order to actually obtain the justification offered. This cooperation is a free act on our part; but it is made possible and fruitful only by the assistance of God’s undeserved grace.
Thus the Council of Trent says that we are “justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace itself of justification; for, ‘if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works; otherwise (as the same Apostle says) grace is no more grace’ [Rom. 11:6]” (Chapter 8; Denz. 801).
Once justification has been received and the soul is regenerated in sanctifying grace and sins have been remitted, the justified can merit an increase in their justification:
Having, therefore, been thus justified and having been made the “friends of God” and “his domestics” [John 15:15; Eph. 2:19], “advancing from virtue to virtue” [Ps. 83:8], “they are renewed” (as the Apostle says) “from day to day” [2 Cor. 4:16], that is, by mortifying the members of their flesh [Col. 3:5], and by “presenting them as instruments of justice” [Rom. 6:13, 19], unto sanctification through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church; in this justice received through the grace of Christ “faith cooperating with good works” [Jas. 2:22], they increase and are further justified, as it is written: “He that is just, let him be justified still” [Rev. 22:11], and again: “Be not afraid to be justified even to death” [Sirach. 18:22], and again: “You see, that by works a man is justified and not by faith only” [Jas. 2:24]. And this increase of justice Holy Church begs for, when she prays: “Give unto us, O Lord, an increase of faith, hope and charity” [13th Sun. after Pent.].
(Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 10; Denz. 803)
The Council of Trent underscores the above dogmatic teaching by issuing the following canons against anyone who would dare to contradict it, as the Lutherans and many other Protestants do:
[Canon 24:] If anyone shall say, that justice received is not preserved and also not increased in the sight of God through good works but that those same works are only the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of its increase: let him be anathema.
[Canon 32:] If anyone shall say that the good works of the man justified are in such a way the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him who is justified, or that the one justified by the good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (whose living member he is), does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life (if he should die in grace), and also an increase of glory: let him be anathema.
(Council of Trent, Session 6; Denz. 834, 842)
These two canons anathematize Francis, for it is precisely his contention that the justified cannot merit any graces from God — all they can do is “open their hearts”, or “enlarge their hearts” (as Zenit translated it), so as to simply (or perhaps better or more bountifully) “receive” what God was going to give them anyway: “I make a promise, in order to expand my heart to receive what is already there, waiting for us free of charge… the graces that He wishes to give us without cost”, the Antipope said, as quoted above. But a bigger heart — to use Bergoglio’s insufferable metaphorical pseudo-theology — is one thing, and the Catholic concept of merit quite another.
Of course, no one at the Vatican batted an eye. Presumably, none of the clergy in attendance knew or cared enough to object to this latest “papal” heresy. And since it doesn’t touch on an issue relating to the Fifth, Sixth, or Ninth Commandment and is entirely about a supernatural truth to boot, this makes the matter wholly uninteresting to a great many people in the Vatican II Sect who are otherwise quick to put up a blog post, publish a video, host a petition, or voice their protest in some other way.
And yet, we must repeat: What Francis said is heresy. It is the direct denial of a truth revealed by God and proposed as such by the Church. (Jimmy Akin, call your office.) Pertinacious public adherence to it renders one a non-Catholic. This matter is much more serious than anything having to do with what Francis did or didn’t know about Theodore McCarrick, for example. And that’s not to downplay the crimes of McCarrick.
Prayer, fasting, mortification, and other works of penance simply as means to “open your heart” to be better disposed to receive what you cannot merit? Now that’s something Martin Luther — that “witness to the Gospel”, as a recent Vatican document unashamedly calls him — could get on board with!
Yes, yes, perhaps a Jimmy Akin or Dave Armstrong can find ways to spin what Bergoglio said into something resembling orthodoxy. But the plain sense of the words is what it is, and that’s how people will understand them, and that’s exactly what Francis counts on; because had he wanted to preach clear orthodoxy, well, he could simply have done so.
And thus we see that Francis has once again — pardon the pun — richly merited for himself the label of heretic. So then, let him be anathema!
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