It happened again! The Pope spoke and the media freaked. He’s done it before. In fact, it seems to be a regular occurrence these days. From “accept gays” to “atheists go to heaven” to “pets go to heaven” when the Pope speaks, people hear what they want. Or in some cases, translate his words so they say something different than what he actually meant. Other Christian denominations used each as a club to prove that those heathen Catholics are just that, non-Christian heathens. A simple fact check would show them that isn’t what was said, for either faction – the bash-the-Catholics faction or those who want the Pope to be breaking barriers/violating doctrine – but why ruin the agenda, right?
But this particular one is different… and a definite facepalm moment.
Pets go to Heaven:
Sometimes I have a real laugh at the media and how they try to stretch what is said into what they want it to say. Two of the last three have been a real hoot, and one not so much. Until this week, that is. One made animal lovers swoon. Here’s the story. Pope Francis saw a distraught boy who had just lost a beloved dog. He comforted the boy by telling him “Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” Well, not so fast. It never happened… with Pope Francis anyway. More than 40 years ago Paul VI made a similar statement, but Pope Francis never did.
Purportedly, during impromptu remarks with reporters while returning from World Youth Day, the Pope said, “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers.” There was so much about this that was twisted. Unfortunately many grabbed onto it and used it to club those who believe that homosexuality is wrong, whether Catholic or otherwise. “SEE!” they said “Even the POPE says its fine to be gay – DON’T JUDGE!” But that isn’t what he said, and here’s the explanation why:
We all agree, if we are Christian, that salvation comes through Christ. However, most homosexuals don’t accept Jesus’ teachings on sexual chastity. Homosexuality, as in feelings of attraction to the same sex, aren’t sinful. The sin is in having sex outside of marriage. Marriage, biblically, is between a man and a woman, so ergo, acting on homosexuality by having sex is sin.
Acting on any sexual feelings outside of marriage is sin, regardless of who is having sex with whom. Next step in that is that if you commit sin, you reject salvation. So if you are having sex with anyone outside of marriage, then you are rejecting Jesus. IF a person who has feelings of attraction to the same sex and chooses to be chaste, then their actions don’t give anything that can be, or should be, judged by other human beings.
What is very interesting is what he said that the media glossed right over. His last sentence, “The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers,” points out something very telling that the gay lobby didn’t want any focus to fall on… that word “problem.” He implies that there is a problem, and he’s right. The gay lobby in secular political life is viciously opposed to the Catholic Church, and actively campaigns for same-sex marriage and other things that damage the human spirit and violate not only Church doctrine, but Scripture. They should be judged, because their actions quite loudly speak for themselves.
Atheists go to Heaven:
Ok, this was one that really got the Catholic bashers in a lather. Allegedly Pope Francis said that anyone who does good works, including atheists, will go to heaven. HuffPo had a frenetically good time reporting that one… but obviously the reporter had no grasp of Scripture or what Christianity means.
Here’s what Pope Francis really said about atheists: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
The first part of his statement encapsulates not only his meaning, but what Scripture says about who can be saved – that the Blood of Christ has redeemed all people. All people are made in God’s image, and if they accept Christ can go to heaven through belief in Him. That syncs right with Scripture. But everyone jumped on “do good” and “atheists” and the rest was lost. The rest of his statement was just to show that the Church is open to all who want to come to it.
Now, the facepalm:
Pope Francis made a statement while aboard the papal plane, as reported by the AP regarding Charlie Hebdo: “There are limits to freedom of expression when religion is insulted.”
No, Pope Francis, there are not. I am free to say what I want about Islam, when I want and how I want. Muslims are free to be offended by it, but they have no right to shut me up, beat me up or kill me because of my expression. I’m pretty much thinking God would be on my side about that too. You know, those “God given” rights and all…
Image: http://flickr.com/photos/34120957@N04/4199675334; Creative Commons