Pope Francis made the news again with an incoherent message on sin and salvation. Via Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences:
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
That is a profoundly bad and anti-biblical idea. See Jeremiah 17:9, among others: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
But after giving false hope (and what else could it have meant?) he not only backtracks but implies that you have to be Catholic to be saved. Make no mistake: When the Pope says “the church as founded by Christ” he means the Catholic church.
In May, however, relaxed remarks during a homily, which appeared to imply that non-believers could be “saved” if they did good, prompted a swift clarification from the Vatican that he meant nothing of the kind.
The pope had had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation”, it said, adding: “They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
The Reformation happened for a reason. Actually, 95 of them, and they are still valid reasons to avoid the Catholic church. I deeply respect their positions on abortion, real marriage and various other topics, and I think that many Catholics are indeed saved — but in spite of what Rome teaches on sanctification, Mary and other topics, not because of what they teach. They are “bad Catholics” who hold to the Protestant (i.e., biblical) view of justification and other key matters.
The Pope is communicating two extremes, both of which are horribly wrong. I view his misstatements on this and other topics, such as indulgences via Twitter, as unusual gifts from God. Far too many people in Catholic churches don’t know what the mother ship really teaches. Francis is using turning the volume up to 11 so you can’t miss it.