Pope Says It’s an ‘Absurdity’ to Love Christ Without the Church

This is the second time that Pope Francis has insisted on the impossibility of being a follower of Christ while rejecting the Church. The first time was less than a year ago and we posted the relevant sermon on our website here. This morning at his Mass he has repeated the same truth here in his homily on the Gospel story where Jesus, at a father’s pleading, cures the boy possessed:

AsiaNews’ account: Jesus always forgives, and his acts [of forgiveness] become “revolutionary” or “inexplicable” when they reach those who [seem to us to be too far gone], like Matthew the tax collector or his colleague, Zacchaeus. Christ’s healing acts always lead people “home” – and thus it is impossible to understand Jesus without the People of God. “It is,” he said, “an absurdity to love Christ without the Church, to feel Christ but not the Church, to follow Christ from the outskirts of the Church.” “Christ and the Church are united,” he said. “Whenever Christ calls a person, He brings that person to the Church.” For this, said Pope Francis, “it is good [that a child] “come to be baptized in Church – Mother Church”.

“And these, Jesus’ gestures of so much tenderness make us realize this: that our doctrine, let us say, or our following Christ, is not an idea. It is a constant abiding at home – and though each of us has the opportunity and the real experience of leaving home for a sin, a mistake – God knows – salvation [means] going home with Jesus in the Church. These are gestures of tenderness. One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church. Let us think on these acts of Jesus”.

  • John S

    This statement has no meaning until we hear Pope Francis define “the church” Some of us have been around Jesuits for a long time. They can be very slippery.

  • Brain Kelly

    John, prescinding from the Jesuit ambivalence, let us just accept the words as they are and use them in addressing and evangelizing non-Catholics. If the Pope should, personally, change the meaning of the term “the Church” to include non-Catholics and thereby expand it beyond the integral four marks, one, holy, catholic, and apostolic (notice I stress that these marks of the true Church are a whole, integral) and expand it beyond the “Mystical Body of Christ,” then we would have a problem. In Pope Benedict XVI’s Dominus Jesus, and Deus Caritas Est, and his approved Holy Office Answers to Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church (2007), the Pope clearly denied that Protestants lacking the Eucharist and priesthood can be called “churches” (never mind “the Church”). Schismatics, however, with valid orders and episcopal history as dioceses, rightly should be called “churches,” but nowhere does he say that they are part of “the Church”, the Catholic Church. In fact, in the document cited from the Holy Office, the Church teaches that the Mystical Body “subsists” in the Catholic Church alone. Thereby refuting the impression left open by Vatican II’s ambiguity that the Mystical Body is more extensive than the Catholic Church.

  • John S

    I do appreciate your application of the term ambivalence. Only by carefully looking into the definition would a person realize it is a great whitewashing term when applied to the modern Jesuits. You might sooner call Cain ambivalent rather than faithless. You might better call Judas in the garden of Gethsemane ambivalent rather than vile, traitorous, or deceptive.
    I have never allowed a pope’s apparent weakness of Faith or even lack of Faith deter me from evangelizing. I am not so imprudent though, as to quote a pope whose contradiction in words and in deeds will be thrown in my face by the very persons I am evangelizing.
    In the process of evangelizing one sooner or later must address contradiction. I usually make a non-Catholic uncomfortable with themselves by revealing a contradiction in the principles by which they claim to live. I cannot remain silent or leave unanswered a contradiction in the words or in the behavior of a pope revealed to me by these same non-Catholics.
    I do hope Pope Francis really means these words. Given his interfaith history though, what am I to think?
    I am sure the kiss of Judas appeared objectively good to the onlookers. Alas! Even apparently good acts and words can be directed towards a vile purpose. Should Our Lord have accepted the kiss of Judas for what it was or was he correct in making the intentions of Judas known? The gospels certainly suggest the latter. It is only prudent to not allow yourself to get caught in a trap when so much evidence suggests that equivocation is still the rule of the day.

  • Brain Kelly

    Thank you John very much. As far as contradiction is concerned, what can we do? There has been contradiction since Pope Pius XII in 1949 “apparently” (we do not know for sure) allowed the Holy Office to accuse Father Feeney of teaching a doctrine that is not Catholic. And that was before Father Feeney opted to oppose the opinion of Baptism of desire as sufficient for salvation. There is a long history of contradictions from the hierarchy regarding the defined dogma on salvation. All that we can do is affirm what the more recent popes have said in support of “no salvation outside the church,” even when their actions and personal words (“contradictions”) do not support it. What else can we do? This is the “disorientation” in the Church that Sister Lucia (I believe) was talking about. We are living under this cloud of false ecumenism and denial of the literal (and only) sense of the thrice-defined dogma. This is our crusade. It is in everything we publish. The pope must believe it just as we must. We cannot pass judgment on this pope or any of the past five popes on this question. For who are we? Personally they are free to say what they want, they also must live freely in grace by the Faith, but they cannot teach heresy from the Chair. That is why, when the pope expresses the universal tradition (and the solemn magisterial teaching) we have to publicize it come what may. The pope has to deal with his personally espoused contradictions. Does he not receive grace regarding protection of the deposit? He can fail, however. And the popes since (and including perhaps) Pius XII have certainly failed in defending the literal (irreformable) dogma of the “universal” teaching of the Church throughout the centuries on “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.” That is why Pope Francis needs prayers. It is not our responsibility to point out contradictions, but it is our responsibility to answer objections. On that we totally agree with you. All that we can do is point to the solemn magisterium and inform people that there is where there is infallibility, not in any pope’s private opinions. We must hold fast. God has allowed this cloud of confusion on the doctrine from the pope on down. Do we dare object to God and say WHY? and become sedevacantist, only throwing another WHY at God?