Martin Luther would be proud!
Hot Air, Half-Truths, and Heresy:
Bergoglio spews Bilge on Justification
At today’s General Audience, Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) presented another “catechesis” on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians that was nothing short of a theological catastrophe. The special focus of this particular Bergoglian blather session was the doctrine of justification.
In the past, the false pope had already made clear that, with regard to justification, he sides with Martin Luther against the Council of Trent. At an in-flight press conference aboard Airhead One on June 26, 2016, the papal pretender bluntly made known his heretical depravity in the following way: “I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. …And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err. He made a medicine for the Church…” (source).
This toxic “medicine” Bergoglio poured out in abundance today on the open wounds of the hapless souls gathered in the infernal Paul VI audience hall. The beginning paragraph of the transcript of his presentation reads as follows:
On our journey to better understand Saint Paul’s teaching, today we will encounter a difficult but important topic: justification. What is justification? We, who were sinners, have become just. Who justified us? This process of change is justification. We, before God, are just. It is true, we have our personal sins. But fundamentally, we are just. This is justification. There has been a lot of discussion on this topic, to find the interpretation that best corresponds to the Apostle’s thought and, as often happens, these discussions even ended up in contradicting positions. In the Letter to the Galatians, just as in the Letter to the Romans, Paul insists on the fact that justification comes through faith in Christ. “But, Father, I am just because I keep all the commandments!” Yes, but justification does not come from that. It comes before that. Someone justified you, someone made you just before God. “Yes, but I am a sinner!” Yes, you justified, but a sinner. But fundamentally, you are just. Who justified you? Jesus Christ. This is justification.
(Antipope Francis, General Audience, Vatican.va, Sep. 29, 2021)
What an utter theological train wreck!
Look at all the things Francis does in this introductory paragraph:
- He says that despite being sinners, we are just before God “fundamentally” — whatever that means
- He gives the impression that the Church’s dogmatic pronouncements on justification are merely one “interpretation” of St. Paul’s teaching among many, and not necessarily its only correct understanding
- He says that obeying the commandments does not justify
- He repeats the idea that sinners are “fundamentally just”
The paragraphs that follow don’t help to dispel the confusion. If anything, they increase it:
What is hidden behind the word “justification” that is so decisive for the faith? It is not easy to arrive at an exhaustive definition, but taking Paul’s thought as a whole, it can be simply said that justification is the consequence of “God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1990). And this is our God, so very good, merciful, patient, full of mercy, who continually grants pardon, continually. He forgives, and justification is God who forgives everyone first in Christ. God’s mercy grants forgiveness. In fact, God, through Jesus’s death – and we need to underline this: through the death of Jesus – destroyed sin and definitively granted us his pardon and salvation. Thus justified, sinners are welcomed by God and reconciled with Him. It is as though the original relationship between the Creator and the creature before the disobedience of sin intervened has been restored. The justification wrought by God, therefore, allows us to recuperate the innocence lost through sin. How does justification happen? Responding to this question means discovering another novelty in Saint Paul’s teaching: that justification comes through grace. Only through grace: we are justified because of pure grace. “But can’t I, can’t someone, go to the judge and pay so that he can justify me?” No. You cannot pay for this. Someone paid for all of us: Christ. And from Christ, who died for us, comes that grace that the Father gives to everyone: Justification comes through grace.
To be clear: A lot of what Francis says can be understood in an orthodox sense, if one insists on understanding him that way. That is to say, one can place an orthodox meaning on many of his words if one tries hard enough. However, what he says easily lends itself to heterodox interpretations as well, and much more naturally so.
For instance, the claim that “justification is God who forgives everyone first in Christ” can clearly be understood in more than one sense. The same goes for saying that God “definitively granted us his pardon and salvation” and that “we are justified because of pure grace.” All that is true in one sense but not in another. Since Francis doesn’t clarify, different hearers of his words will understand different things. And that’s why he speaks that way.
Further, Bergoglio declares:
The Apostle is always mindful of the experience that changed his life: his meeting with the Risen Jesus on the way to Damascus. Paul had been a proud, religious and zealous man, convinced that justification consisted in the scrupulous observance of the precepts of the law. Now, however, he has been conquered by Christ, and faith in Him has completely transformed him, allowing him to discover a truth that had been hidden: we do not become just through our own effort, no, it is not us, but it is Christ, with his grace, who makes us just. So, Paul was willing to renounce everything that before had made him rich, in order to be fully aware of the mystery of Jesus (cf. Ph 3:7), because he had discovered that only God’s grace had saved him. We have been justified, we have been saved, through pure grace, not because of our own merits. And this gives us great trust. We are sinners, yes; but we live our lives with this grace of God that justifies us each time that we ask forgiveness. But not in that moment are we justified: we have been justified, but he comes to forgive us again.
This is just a hopeless mess. Francis says everything and its opposite. Keep in mind: This is supposed to be a catechesis! This is meant for a common audience. What is the average pewsitter supposed to take away from these words? How is he to understand them?
For the Apostle, faith has an all-encompassing value. It touches every moment and every aspect of a believer’s life: from baptism to our departure from this world, everything is informed by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus who gives salvation. Justification through faith underlines the priority of the grace that God offers without distinction to those who believe in his Son.
We must not, however, conclude that the Mosaic Law, for Paul, had lost its value; rather, it remains an irrevocable gift from God. It is, the Apostle writes, “holy” (Rm 7:12). Even for our spiritual life, observing the commandments is essential. But even here, we cannot count on our efforts: the grace of God that we receive in Christ is fundamental. That grace that comes from being the justification given us by Christ who already paid for us. From Him, we receive that gratuitous love that allows us, in our turn, to love in concrete ways.
In this context, it is good to recall the teaching of the Apostle James, who wrote: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” It seems to be the contrary, but it is not the contrary. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead” (Jas 2:24, 26). Justification, if it does not bear fruit with our works, is only that, buried, dead. It is there, but we must activate it with our works. This is how James’ words complement Paul’s teaching. For both, therefore, the response of faith demands that we be active in our love for God and in our love of neighbour. Why “active in that love?” Because that love saved all of us, it freely justified us, gratis!
To speak of “the grace that God offers without distinction to those who believe in his Son”, is already highly problematic, to put it nicely. Especially in today’s ecumenical climate, it suggests that anyone who claims to “believe in Christ” (which itself means different things to different people) is given sanctifying grace. That is pure heretical nonsense.
The Church teaches dogmatically that we must be properly disposed to receive justification, and Faith alone is not enough: “If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will: let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon 9; Denz. 819).
Also, there is no such thing as “dead justification”. There is dead Faith, which does not justify yet is still true Faith: “If anyone shall say that together with the loss of grace by sin faith also is always lost, or that the faith that remains is not a true faith, though it be not a living one, or that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Christian: let him be anathema” (Trent, Session VI, Canon 28; Denz. 838). Francis has affirmed this very heresy on several occasions (see one example here).
The very notion of justification necessarily implies life, the life of sanctifying grace: “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10); “But God, (who is rich in mercy,) for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, (by whose grace you are saved,) and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-6). This is so because he who is justified by that very fact possesses the infused theological virtues of Faith, hope, and charity: “Hence man through Jesus Christ, into whom he is ingrafted, receives in the said justification together with the remission of sins all these [gifts] infused at the same time: faith, hope, and charity” (Trent, Session VI, Chapter 7; Denz. 800). Thus he who is justified is supernaturally alive.
The final paragraph of Francis’ “catechesis” underscores the theological train wreck the fake pope has been foisting on his listeners:
Justification incorporates us into the long history of salvation that demonstrates God’s justice: before our continual falls and inadequacies, he has not given up, but he wanted to make us just and he did so through grace, through the gift of Jesus Christ, of his death and resurrection. Sometimes I have said how God acts, what God’s style is. And I have used three words: God’s style is nearness, compassion and tenderness. He always draws near to us, is compassionate and tender. And justification is precisely the [sic] God’s greatest nearness with us, men and women, God’s greatest compassion for us men and women, the greatest tenderness of the Father. Justification is this gift of Christ, of the death and resurrection of Christ that makes us free. “But, Father, I am a sinner…I have robbed….” Yes, yes. But fundamentally, you are just. Allow Christ to effect that justification. We are not fundamentally condemned no, we are just. Allow me to say, we are saints. But then, by our actions, we become sinners. But, fundamentally, we are saints: let us allow Christ’s grace to come and this justice, this justification will give us the strength to progress. Thus, the light of faith allows us to recognize how infinite God’s mercy is, his grace that works for our good. But that same light also makes us see the responsibility that has been entrusted to us to collaborate with God in his work of salvation. The power of grace needs to be coupled with our works of mercy which we are called to live to bear witness to how tremendous is God’s love. Let us move ahead with this trust: we have all been justified, we are just in Christ. We must effect that justice with our works. Thank you.
To tell a robber that he is just, and then to add that he is to “[a]llow Christ to effect that justification”, simply makes no sense whatsoever. And to go on to say that “[w]e are not fundamentally condemned no, we are just. Allow me to say, we are saints. But then, by our actions, we become sinners. But, fundamentally, we are saints…” simply doesn’t help clarify things. Francis is all over the place, and as usual, he uses words to obscure, not to clarify or illuminate.
After all of the above, good luck to anyone trying to summarize in just a sentence or two what Bergoglio’s teaching on justification is!
The following posts provide additional insights into the heretical mind of the antipope:
- Francis at Audience: We must observe the Commandments Not to be Justified but to Aid the Encounter with Christ!
- Ecumenical Journey to Nowhere: Francis and the Lutherans
- Francis: Lutherans are “Members of one and the same Mystical Body of Christ” as Catholics
The antidote to Bergoglio’s endless doubletalk about such an important Catholic concept as the justification of the sinner, is the Council of Trent’s eminently beautiful and utterly clear dogmatic teaching:
- Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification
- Council of Trent, Session 6, Canons on Justification
In none of all his hot air, half-truths, and heresies can “Pope” Francis be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, he already made clear long ago that “Martin Luther … did not err” on justification.
No wonder the Vatican now hails Luther as a “witness to the Gospel”!
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