What Religion Is This?
by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 8, 2016
In a brief address to an “interreligious audience” at the Vatican on November 3, Francis spoke on “the theme of mercy,” but without a single reference to the King of Mercy, Jesus Christ, the sole merciful savior of mankind, nor any reference to the sacraments of the Church that Christ established precisely to show His mercy toward men of good will.
Alluding vaguely to “the Christian message” while saying absolutely nothing about the grace of repentance that must precede the grace of justification and the regeneration of the soul of fallen man, Francis sketched instead a concept of mercy seemingly designed to accommodate any and all religions, so-called.
Mercy, said Francis, is not God’s forgiveness of sin through Baptism or the absolution of a repentant sinner in the confessional, in the manner Christ ordained when He commissioned His Church (cf. John 20:23). Rather, he opined, “the mystery of mercy is not to be celebrated in words alone, but above all by deeds, by a truly merciful way of life marked by disinterested love, fraternal service and sincere sharing.”
What does this have to do with Divine Mercy for the sinner who repents and turns to God, which was supposedly the theme of the Year of Mercy now concluding? The address seems instead to conflate Divine Mercy with human acts of kindness devoid of any motive of supernatural grace.
Indeed, Francis goes on to say that “The Church increasingly desires to adopt this way of life, also as part of her ‘duty to foster unity and charity’ among all men and women…” The Church is depicted as an organization that has only recently begun to discover fully what mercy means! It means, according to Francis, a “way of life” — again, without reference to Divine Mercy toward repentant sinners.
Mercy as a “way of life” — rather than a divine action toward the sinner — is something that anyone, no matter what he believes, can possess. Thus, says Francis, “[t]he religions are likewise called to this way of life, in order to be, particularly in our own day, messengers of peace and builders of communion, and to proclaim, in opposition to all those who sow conflict, division and intolerance, that ours is a time of fraternity.”
Note well: “the religions” are referenced indifferently, as if they were all on equal footing with respect to the quality of mercy, which is reduced, in essence, to social work and brotherhood.
Continuing this indifferentist, pan-religious refrain, Francis declares that “mercy” as he conceives it — quoting himself — is that quality which is “more open to dialogue, the better to know and understand one another; eliminates every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect; and drives out every form of violence and discrimination (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). This is pleasing to God and constitutes an urgent task, responding not only to today’s needs but above all to the summons to love which is the soul of all authentic religion.”
Not a word here about the supernatural grace of charity obtained and maintained through the sacraments instituted by Christ, nor the divine action involved in God’s mercy thus obtained. Rather, again, we see only an appeal to do-goodism depicted as the “soul of all authentic religion.”
Grote aandacht voor psychologische barmhartigheid…
Er vindt (ook in de rk Kerk) een verschuiving plaats. Het geluk van de mens staat steeds meer in de belangstelling, de verlossing door Christus echter steeds minder. Met veel aandacht voor psychologische barmhartigheid, en steeds minder gerichtheid op theologische barmhartigheid. Alles mag en alles kan, want God is zo goed… dat Hij toch alles vergeeft wegens zijn barmhartigheid, zo denkt men. Het sacrament van de vergeving van zonden door een biechtafspraak te maken met een priester, hoort steeds minder tot de praktijk van de gelovige.