It seems to me that Pope Francis has been in the news more often in the past month than any pope has been in recent memory. You see, he is regularly speaking out about his beliefs, beliefs which push against the traditional stance of the Catholic church for centuries. At first, I found his comments to be refreshing, pointing in the right direction. In one interview, he spoke about how he wanted the church to be more focused on what it was for than what it was against. He discussed how it was time to stop focusing on abortion and contraception and instead begin to let women have a greater voice within the church. (Read transcript of the interview here.) Sounds good to me!
But he continued pushing further. When asked about those who do not believe in God, he said:
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.” (Read Article)
And most recently he stated in an interview the following comments: (Read transcript of this interview here)
“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”
“From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us. In the letter I wrote to you, you will remember I said that our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls and it will all be in everyone.”
It seems to me the pope has taken a turn away from orthodox Christianity and into new waters. These waters, I’m sure, make my 90 year old Catholic grandmother uneasy. I know they make me uneasy and I’m not Catholic.
The problem is that he is spending too much time trying to make the message of Christianity more palateable, more accessible to those without faith. He has removed Jesus (essentially), he has removed holiness, he has removed God’s justice, and just like Rob Bell, he only sees God’s Love.
This is a distorted message which does not line up with the message of the New Testament. God is not just the force of Good – He is our Creator and therefore our Judge. And his son Jesus is our Savior. Now one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6).
The idea of religious tolerance and a pluralism of faiths all leading to God has been exploding across America for several years now, but I never expected to find this message so clearly supported by the pope.