Another week, another heresy…
Barely a day goes by on which Francis doesn’t have something to say, but some days are worse than others.
This past Wednesday, May 9, the apostate pretend-Pope during his general audience gave what was supposed to be a catechesis on the sacrament of baptism. Placing heavy emphasis on the sacramental character — which is indelible and hence baptism can never be repeated once it has been validly administered — Francis proceeded to claim that it is this indelible character which makes us, irrevocably, children of God.
Here is the relevant portion of his catechesis. Note in particular the underlined parts:
If our parents have given us earthly life, the Church has regenerated us to eternal life. We have become children in His Son Jesus (Cf. Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-7). On each one of us also, reborn of the water and of the Holy Spirit, the celestial Father has his voice resound with infinite love, which says: “You are my beloved son” (Cf. Matthew 3:17). This paternal voice, imperceptible to the ear but very audible to the heart of one who believes, accompanies us throughout our life, without ever abandoning us. Throughout life the Father says to us: “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter.” God love[s] us so much, as a Father, and He doesn’t leave us alone [=doesn’t abandon us]. This <is true> from the moment of Baptism. Reborn as children of God, we are so forever! Baptism, in fact, isn’t repeated, because it imprints an indelible spiritual mark: “No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation” (CCC, 1272). The mark of Baptism is never lost! “Father, but if a person becomes a brigand, of the most famous, who kills people, who commits injustices, doesn’t the mark go away?” No. To his own shame that son of God does those things, but the mark doesn’t go away. And he continues to be a son of God who goes against God, but God never disowns His children. Have you understood this last thing? God never disowns His children. Shall we repeat it all together? “God never disowns His children.” A bit louder, as I’m deaf and I didn’t understand: [They repeat louder] “God never disowns His children.” There, that’s fine.(Antipope Francis, in “GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Baptism (Part V): Regeneration”, Zenit, May 9, 2018; underlining added; italics given.)
What Francis says here is an absolute theological mess. He deliberately mixes different concepts that need to be kept distinct, and here thereby achieves the desired effect of great confusion in the mind of the hearer. Ask yourself: Precisely what is Francis saying here regarding baptism, sin, sanctifying grace, and adoptive sonship?
The true Catholic position is that the sacrament of baptism has three distinct effects: “(1) the grace of justification…; (2) forgiveness of all the penalties of sin; and (3) the sacramental character” (Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 8, 4th ed., p. 228).
Adoptive sonship is one of the effects of the justification obtained in baptism, not of its sacramental character: “Besides forgiving sin and producing sanctifying grace, with all its formal effects — justice, supernatural beauty, the friendship of God, and His adoptive sonship — Baptism also effects the supernatural concomitants of sanctifying grace…” (ibid., p. 229; underlining added). “Another effect of baptism is the infusion of sanctifying grace and supernatural gifts and virtues. It is this sanctifying grace which renders men the adopted sons of God and confers the right to heavenly glory” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Baptism”). Catholic teaching explicitly denies the idea, affirmed by Francis, that our adoptive sonship is the result of the indelible character of baptism:
The sacramental character may be in the soul without grace…. In contradistinction to sanctifying grace, the supernatural configuratio or assimilatio conferred by the sacramental character establishes a proper likeness to Christ, not indeed as if the soul participated in His Divine Sonship, but in the sense of sharing in His office of High Priest.(Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 8, pp. 91-92; underlining added.)
The indelible character has its own specific purposes, but the bestowal of justification is not one of them.
When the grace of justification is lost through mortal sin, we cease being the adopted sons of the Most High God: “The just man, on the other hand, is a child of God merely by the possession of sanctifying grace, which can be lost by mortal sin and consequently is founded upon a free relation that may be terminated by man as freely as it was entered into between himself and God” (Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 7, 4th ed., pp. 358-359). “But since all mortal sins, even those of thought, make men children of wrath [Eph. 2:3] and enemies of God, it is necessary to ask pardon for all of them from God by an open and humble confession” (Council of Trent, Session 14, Chapter 5; Denz. 899).
All this is basic Catholic doctrine and not particularly difficult to understand. Francis could have simply taught this, but he chose not to. Since what he presented is fairly convoluted and could mean a number of different things, we will now look at various scenarios and show how they all involve serious errors against the Faith.
What did Francis “really” mean? Pick one of three
Depending on exactly how one wants to read what Francis is saying in his May 9, 2018 catechesis, the Jesuit antipope is affirming any one of the following three extremely serious errors:
- Justification, once obtained through baptism, cannot be lost
- Adoptive sonship does not entitle us to Heaven
- Adoptive sonship is not had by grace
We will now proceed to refute each of these positions.
Error #1: Sanctifying grace, once obtained through baptism, cannot be lost
If Francis means that justification, once it has been obtained through baptism, cannot be lost by mortal sin, then he is teaching heresy, specifically, the heresy of Calvinism (although Calvinists do not believe that baptism causes justification).
Francis is definitely trying to create the impression in his hearers that the sanctifying grace of baptism cannot be lost, since he states that God calls us his sons or daughters “throughout life”, i.e. regardless of our sins. Furthermore, he claims that “we are so forever” with regard to our regeneration, “reborn as children of God” — a clear affirmation of the heresy of Calvinism — and blasphemously and no less heretically declares that “he continues to be a son of God who goes against God” (from the context, it is clear he is speaking about mortal sin, since he mentions being a brigand and even killing people). The emphasis he places on God not abandoning or disowning His children is intended to further cement the impression that baptismal grace cannot be lost.
How clearly this is contrary to the dogmas of the Church is evident from the following magisterial quotes:
Moreover, from this very multitude of the faithful and the redeemed some are preserved in eternal salvation, because through the grace of God they remain faithfully in their redemption, bearing in their hearts the voice of their God Himself: “Who . . . perseveres even unto the end, he will be saved” [Matt. 10:22 ; 24:13]; that others, because they were unwilling to remain in the safety of faith, which in the beginning they received, and because they choose by wrong teaching or by a wrong life to make void rather than to preserve the grace of redemption, came in no way to the fullness of salvation and to the reception of eternal beatitude.(Pope St. Leo IV, Council of Valence; Denz. 324)No one moreover, so long as he lives in this mortal state, ought so far to presume concerning the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to decide for certain that he is assuredly in the number of the predestined, as if it were true that he who is justified either cannot sin any more, or if he shall have sinned, that he ought to promise himself an assured reformation.(Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 12; Denz. 805)Against the crafty genius of certain men also, who “by pleasing speeches and good words seduce the hearts of the innocent” [Rom. 16:18], it must be maintained that the grace of justification, although received, is lost not only by infidelity, whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin, although faith be not lost, thereby defending the doctrine of the divine law which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelievers, but also the faithful who are “fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners” [1 Cor. 6:9 ff.], and all others who commit deadly sins, from which with the assistance of divine grace they can refrain and for which they are separated from the grace of God.(Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 15; Denz. 808)If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.(Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon 23; Denz. 833)If anyone shall say that there is no mortal sin except that of infidelity, or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin however grievous and enormous, except the sin of infidelity: let him be anathema(Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon 27; Denz. 837)
It’s not looking too good for the “Pope”, is it?
Some people will object and point to the quote Francis provides from the Catechism of the Conciliar Cult: “No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation” (n. 1272). Does this not show that Francis is not teaching the “eternal security” heresy of Calvinism? It might, and it might not — it depends on how we want to understand the other things Francis says.
On the face of it, it seems Francis has deliberately and strategically placed a contradiction to his affirmation that the baptized are reborn as children of God who continue in that state forever. We say this contradiction is strategic because it looks like he is only including it in order to give himself some room for plausible deniability — a theological get-out-of-jail-free card. He contradicts himself on purpose to make it look as if he is perhaps confused or not being understood correctly rather than pertinaciously clinging to what is contrary to Faith. This method of writing confusedly, even contradicting oneself on occasion, to facilitate the spread of heresy was denounced by Popes Pius VI and Pius X (see Bull Auctorem Fidei, introd., and Encyclical Pascendi, n. 4, respectively).
Another objection might be brought up: Could Bergoglio be using the term “children of God” in a merely natural sense according to which all men have been created by God the Father? In theory, this is possible, especially because, being a Naturalist, that is how he loves to use the term; as he recently did, for example, when he told children that members of the Mafia, criminals, are children of God: “Those of the mafia are also children of God but prefer to behave like children of the devil” (source).
However, this natural sense is simply not in which Francis is actually using the term “children of God” in his May 9 catechesis. We know this because he is speaking explicitly in the immediate context of regeneration, saying that that “the Church has regenerated us to eternal life. We have become children in His Son Jesus…. Reborn as children of God, we are so forever.” It is clear, therefore, that Francis is not talking about unregenerate human nature but about being children of God through supernatural adoptive sonship.
What, however, do we make of Bergoglio’s claims regarding God never disowning or abandoning His children?
Once again, we turn to the Council of Trent. Quoting St. Augustine, the holy synod declared that “God ‘does not forsake those who have once been justified by His grace, unless He be first forsaken by them‘” (Session VI, Chapter 11; Denz. 804; italics added). Notice the caveat: “…unless He be first forsaken by them.” Francis doesn’t mention that part because he wants to create the impression that our friendship with God, once it has been obtained, can never be destroyed, which is heresy.
Error #2: Adoptive sonship does not entitle us to Heaven
Another way to understand Francis’ catechetical remarks is to say that he indeed believes that adoptive sonship can never be lost but that he denies that adoptive sonship entitles one to eternal beatitude in Heaven.
If he were to hold that, however, his catechesis would become utterly meaningless. For what would then be the point of being a son of God, of never being abandoned by the Father? No, he cannot mean that. In fact, this idea is contradicted in the opening sentences: “…the Church has regenerated us to eternal life. We have become children in His Son Jesus…. On each one of us also, reborn of the water and of the Holy Spirit, the celestial Father has his voice resound with infinite love, which says: ‘You are my beloved son’ (Cf. Matthew 3:17).”
In any case, the idea that adoptive sonship does not entitle one to the inheritance of Heaven is most certainly a heresy, for it directly contradicts Divine Revelation: “The formal effects of sanctifying grace culminate in the elevation of man to the rank of an adopted child of God…, with a claim to the paternal inheritance, i.e. the beatific vision in Heaven. This truth is so clearly stated in Scripture and Tradition that its denial would be heretical” (Pohle-Preuss, Dogmatic Theology, vol. 7, p. 356).
Among the applicable Scripture passages are the following:
For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.(Rom 8:14-18)But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God.(Gal 4:4-7)Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ: As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity. Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace,(Eph 1:3-7)But when the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared: not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs, according to hope of life everlasting.(Titus 3:4-7)
Furthermore, the idea is contrary to the teaching of the Council of Trent:
For in those who are born again, God hates nothing, because “there is no condemnation, to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism unto death” [Rom. 6:4], who do not “walk according to the flesh” [Rom 8:1], but putting off “the old man” and putting on the “new, who is created according to God” [Eph. 4:22 ff.; Col. 3:9 ff.], are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved sons of God, “heirs indeed of God, but co-heirs with Christ” [Rom. 8:17], so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven.(Council of Trent, Session V, n. 5; Denz. 792)Justification itself follows this disposition or preparation, which is not merely remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts, whereby an unjust man becomes a just man, and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be “an heir according to hope of life everlasting” [Tit. 3:7]. The causes of this justification are: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Christ and life eternal; the efficient cause is truly a merciful God who gratuitously “washes and sanctifies” [1 Cor. 6:11], “signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance” [Eph. 1:13f.]; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, “who when we were enemies” [cf. Rom. 5:10], “for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us” [Eph. 2:4], merited justification for us by His most holy passion on the wood of the Cross, and made satisfaction for us to God the Father; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the “sacrament of faith,” without which no one is ever justified. Finally the unique formal cause is the “justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but by which He makes us just”, that, namely, by which, when we are endowed with it by him, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed, but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the “Holy Spirit distributes to everyone as he wills” [1 Cor. 12:11], and according to each one’s own disposition and cooperation.(Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 7; Denz. 799)
Therefore, if Error #2 is Bergoglio’s position, he is guilty of heresy.
Error #3: Adoptive sonship is not had by grace
Lastly, we could say that Francis means that adoptive sonship is not caused by sanctifying grace but by something else — for example, by the indelible sacramental character of baptism — and thus is not bound up with grace, so that one could be an adoptive son of God without being justified. But this too is directly contrary to the teaching of the Church, as we saw in the quote of Denz. 799 given just above, as well as in the following passages:
In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the “adoption of the sons” [Rom. 8:15] of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration, or a desire for it, as it is written: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” [John 3:5].(Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 4; Denz. 796)No one can express the greatness of this work of divine grace in the souls of men. Wherefore, both in Holy Scripture and in the writings of the fathers, men are styled regenerated, new creatures, partakers of the Divine Nature, children of God, god-like, and similar epithets.(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Divinum Illud, n. 8)
Although denying the teaching that adoptive sonship is the result of sanctifying grace would be a mortal sin and close to heresy, it does not seem to constitute heresy in the strict sense. The Jesuit theologian Fr. Severinus Gonzalez Rivas, at least, leaves some doubt, saying the teaching in question is “at least Catholic doctrine, unless it may be regarded as of faith by the ordinary magisterium” (Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. III [Madrid: Biblioteca de Auctores Cristianos, 1961], n. 235; our translation. This sentence was mistakenly omitted from the English translation by Fr. Kenneth Baker).
To deny the essential and causal connection between sanctifying grace and adoptive sonship would also involve Bergoglio in Error #2 above, which is heretical.
So: Which of these three heretical or quasi-heretical errors does Francis actually hold? The preponderance of the evidence suggests it is the first one, although the question is probably misplaced since it is evident that the apostate antipope just doesn’t care about any of this. He doesn’t believe in the Catholic Faith, and it won’t matter to him whether one day he affirms Pelagianism and on another day Calvinism, then Gallicanism, and after that, Arianism. As long as Catholicism is denied and souls are harmed in some fashion, he has fulfilled his goal. The problem is not that he is a dictator — the problem is that he is an Anti-Catholic.
Let us consider for a moment what Francis’ false ideas about baptism and adoptive sonship do to the dogma of the unity of the Church. If everyone who is validly baptized is irrevocably a son of God, regardless of what religion he professes, then the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, has no unity of Faith and extends to Catholics as well as to heretics and apostates — then the Church is not one but is divided into factions or parts. Not surprisingly, this is in perfect harmony with Vatican II and is entirely consistent with what Francis affirmed in late 2015:
- Francis: “All the Baptized are Members of the Church!”
- Debate: Bp. Donald Sanborn vs. Dr. Robert Fastiggi on the New Ecclesiology of Vatican II (video)
- Conference: Bp. Donald Sanborn on the New Ecclesiology of Vatican II (video)
Bergoglio’s theology is fundamentally the theology of Vatican II. Sometimes he draws novel conclusions, but his ideas are always rooted in that abominable council of the 1960s.
Contrary to all this Modernist junk, the true teaching is that the Catholic Church alone constitutes the Body of Christ, which is one by divine constitution and per se incapable of being split into parts. “The Catholic Church is one, she is neither torn nor divided”, said Pope Leo XII (Apostolic Exhortation Pastoris Aeterni). Interestingly enough, the Italian (original?) version of this exhortation found on the Vatican web site has Pope Leo XII using the word lacerata — “lacerated”, “torn” — with regard to what the Catholic Church’s unity is not. This is precisely the same word Francis used in 2015, though he used it to affirm of ecclesiastical unity what Pope Leo denied: The divisions are “lacerations” that tear the Body of Christ, Francis asserted.
Since the Body of Christ is one and not divided, then, it becomes all the more important to understand where that Mystical Body is to be found in this world. The Catholic Church has always taught that she alone is the Mystical Body of Christ, and all other churches, sects, or communities, are thus cut off from the Body of Christ:
Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity. For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever.(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes)Furthermore, the Son of God decreed that the Church should be His mystical body, with which He should be united as the Head, after the manner of the human body which He assumed, to which the natural head is physiologically united. As He took to Himself a mortal body, which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man’s redemption, so also He has one mystical body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation. God “hath made Him (Christ) head over all the Church, which is His body” (Eph. i., 22-23). Scattered and separated members cannot possibly cohere with the head so as to make one body. But St. Paul says: “All members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ” (I Cor. xii., 12). Wherefore this mystical body, he declares, is “compacted and fitly jointed together. The head, Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly jointed together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part” (Eph. iv., 15-16). And so dispersed members, separated one from the other, cannot be united with one and the same head. “There is one God, and one Christ; and His Church is one and the faith is one; and one the people, joined together in the solid unity of the body in the bond of concord. This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts” (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 23). And to set forth more clearly the unity of the Church, he makes use of the illustration of a living body, the members of which cannot possibly live unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. Separated from the head they must of necessity die. “The Church,” he says, “cannot be divided into parts by the separation and cutting asunder of its members. What is cut away from the mother cannot live or breathe apart” (Ibid.). What similarity is there between a dead and a living body? “For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church: because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. v., 29-30).Another head like to Christ must be invented – that is, another Christ if besides the one Church, which is His body, men wish to set up another. “See what you must beware of – see what you must avoid – see what you must dread. It happens that, as in the human body, some member may be cut off a hand, a finger, a foot. Does the soul follow the amputated member? As long as it was in the body, it lived; separated, it forfeits its life. So the Christian is a Catholic as long as he lives in the body: cut off from it he becomes a heretic – the life of the spirit follows not the amputated member” (S. Augustinus, Sermo cclxvii., n. 4).The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and the same for ever; those who leave it depart from the will and command of Christ, the Lord – leaving the path of salvation they enter on that of perdition. “Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ….He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation” (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 6).(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 5)
That’s how true Popes speak — but a lot of water has run down the Tiber since we’ve had a true Pope in Rome (1958).
And so another week passes with another general audience and yet another Bergoglian heresy or quasi-heresy. Since the attack upon the Faith does not involve an affront to human life or sexual morality, however, do not expect the conservative Novus Ordo or even many semi-traditionalist organizations to get upset. It is “only” a denial of Catholic teaching on justification, “only” about the supernatural order; and for many, that’s just not something to get all worked up about, perhaps because they, thoroughly but unknowingly infected with Modernism, believe that revealed religion is ultimately just an opinion.
Tragically, even for many who consider themselves staunch defenders of the Catholic Faith, what pertains primarily to man is much more important than what primarily pertains to God (cf. 2 Thess 2:4). And thus the Vatican II religion has been extremely successful in deceiving so many souls (cf. Mt 24:24), for even those within its ranks who cannot stomach Francis, have fallen for the pernicious fruit offered by the toxic spiritual tree that is the Second Vatican Council.a