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Front Row With Francis: The Nature of the Church

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the GospelAfter concluding his talks on the gifts of the Spirit, Pope Francis now takes up the subject of the Church, its identity and mission. He began by warmly welcoming everyone as his brothers and sisters. This was a fitting greeting since his address emphasized God’s desire to form a family of people through Fatherly love. During this introduction, the Holy Father centered on the roots of the church in God’s dealings with Abraham.

It was fascinating that Pope Francis opened his teaching by rejecting a narrow view that the Church is “restricted to the clergy or the Vatican ” . He pointed out that we are “all the Church, all family, all of the Mother.” I was pleasantly surprised that his definition of Church included “a much broader reality, which opens to the whole of humanity ….She was founded by Jesus but is a people with a long history behind it and a preparation that began much before Christ himself.”

The idea that a sense of church did not begin with Jesus or Peter was a whole new concept for me. It made so much sense as the Holy Father explained that the church began even in Genesis when “God did not call Abraham alone, as an individual, but from the beginning involved his family, his relatives and all those who served in his household. Beginning with Abraham, God forms a people to take His blessing to all the families of the earth. And Jesus is born within this people.”

“Abraham and his family listened to God’s call and set out despite the fact that they did not know who this God was and where he wanted to lead them,” the pope said. “It’s true. Abraham set out when this God called him, but he didn’t have a theology book to study to find out who this God was. He trusted. He trusted in the love that God made him feel.” Yet too often we tend to focus on what Abraham did, on what people do not on God.

Pope Francis instructs us in this second element when he says, “it is not for Abraham to constitute a people around him, but it is God who gives life to this people.” It is all about God’s actions, not man’s because “it is God Himself who takes the initiative. Let us listen to this: it is God who knocks on Abraham’s door and says to him: go forth, go from your land, begin to walk and I will make of you a great people. ” In ancient times and still today, “God walks with us,” Our focus must be on God because it is God himself who teaches us , it is God who proceeds us and waits for us He arrives before us .”

As for us, if we wish to form church, we need only to listen and respond to God who acts and speaks first. Of course, our response is not perfect. As Pope Francis reminds us, “When we recognize that we are sinners, God fills us with his mercy and love, and he forgives us. He always forgives us. This is what makes us grow as the people of God, the church.”

Throughout this teaching, the Holy Father reminds us of man’s pride ,egoism and hardness heart. Yet, he also stresses that “when we acknowledge ourselves sinners, God fills us with His mercy and His love. And He forgives us, He forgives us always. And, in fact, it is this which makes us grow as people of God, as Church: it’s not our bravura, it’s not our merits – we are but a little thing; it’s not that –, but it is the daily experience of how much the Lord loves us and takes care of us”

Pope Francis has gently chided us for both our self-centered idea that it is we who form Church and challenged the way we look at the Church. However, as usual, he closes with inspiring words that both warm our hearts and encourage us. “When God called Abraham this was his plan: form a people blessed by his love and who would bring his blessing to all the people of the earth. This plan has never changed and in Christ it reached its fulfillment and, still today, God continues this work in the church… I like to think that a synonym for being Christian is being men and women – a people – who always bless. Through their lives, Christians must always bless God and bless others….It’s a beautiful vocation.”


Melanie Jean Juneau is a petite wife, writer and mother of nine children who blogs at Joy of nine9. When the words "The Joy of Mothering on a Hobby Farm" popped into her head as a subtitle for her short stories, it was like an epiphany for her because those few words verbalized her experience living with little people.The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life, especially a life lived in God.

  • RMThoughts

    What would a man who denies the Trinity by affirming we worship the same God as Islam, know about the nature of the Church?

    • melanie jean juneau

      The focus of the Pope’s remarks centre on the fact that it is God who forms Church. GOD initiates and we respond in obedience ahd humility. IT IS PROFOUND, TRUE AND IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

      • Christopher Fish

        how are his remarks any different from what the church has taught for the last 2000 years about itself? They seem to be only a simple restatement of facts that, perhaps, some people need to be reminded of them, but this is something every catholic should know.

        • melanie jean juneau

          good point

    • Don’t make me start deleting. I want to get through this weekend peacefully. Nonetheless, consider this a warning.

      Stick to the topic and no flaming, or I will delete you with glee.

    • Christopher Fish

      hmm…i think he means ‘we worship the same God’ in much the same way 2 blind man and one sited man would go up to a fast food counter and order something. 1 blind man might assume he is talking to a young girl, another an old lady, but the sited man might see the 30 year old black man taking his order. All three spoke and did in fact mean to speak to the same being, regardless of weather or not they understood who they were speaking too.

      In much the same way the Jews of today and the followers of Islam speak to ‘ a God they do not understand ‘ because they do not have ‘the fullness of the truth ‘. Still there is only the one God of history , the one true God of the bible and all three groups intend to be worshiping him, even if two of them are mistaken about exactly who He is.

      I’m still trying to understand from the article what the pope did other the summarized the traditional definition of the catholic church as found in say the catechism. I don’t understand why people keep saying,’oh he is saying something new’ I have yet to hear him ‘say’ anything particularly different the the last two popes.

      • melanie jean juneau

        exactly. Perhaps people object to the way he speaks? His talks are down-to- earth because he is used to speaking to ordinary people, right in the street.

        • goral

          Perhaps people object to the way he speaks because it lacks clarity. He doesn’t think through his statements. He’s parochial. He needs to get above that because his speak goes out to the world.
          For some reason, perhaps a chicken bone, he could not utter the word Catholic when defining the Church.
          He seems to have the same problem with our Church as the Chicago thug has with our country.

  • Nancy Ward

    Very thoughtful and inspiring article, Melanie. Thanks for sharing it.

    • melanie jean juneau

      thank-you ; I was fascinated by the pope’s insights

  • goral

    He pointed out that we are “all the Church, all family, all of the
    Mother.”

    In a general sense that’s true. The same statements have been made by those who are at odds with “Peter”. They have divested themselves from the “family” so what do we say of them?

    His following quote is further perplexity:

    “It gives me great pain to see that Christians around the world suffer the most from such discrimination.”
    In his comments to religious liberty scholars, Pope Francis
    reflected on Catholic teaching, citing the Second Vatican Council’s
    declaration on religious freedom, “Dignitatis humanae.”

    So how do we reconcile that? We have Church warring against Church!
    Who’s who? This is more confusion coming from the head of the Church.
    Is it any surprise that the definition of Church now rests with the same embarrassing bunch that defines marriage??
    He also refuses to identify Islam as the biggest persecutor of Christians in the world. We’re just not going to get clarity from this Pope.

    • melanie jean juneau

      I find that it is best to discern what is in the Lord with an open heart, rather than with an eye that looks for mistakes. It is interesting to note that Jesus constantly upset the religious experts of his day by seeming to breakl the letter of the law when in fact, as Love incarnate, He was the fufilment of the law.

      • melanie jean juneau

        Also, Jesus constantly appeared to contradict Himself for those who judged His words only by their surface meaning. Many of Christ’s words appear difficult to reconcile if they are not read spiritually.

      • goral

        True.

  • goral

    We find out today that the mafia is not Church; in fact, they’re excommunicated en masse. Gotta give credit where credit is due. While this excommunication is not formal or binding, it was given with certitude.

    • It might be more “binding” than it first appears.. I understood it as the same way that being a Freemason is grounds for automatic excommunication. The Pope doesn’t have to pronounce that sentence for it to take effect/ Any subsequent statement by the Pope would merely be reminding people of said excommunication already in force.

      Pretty sure the same applies to an actual member of organized crime. And if there’s no formal legislation to that effect, as the Supreme Legislator, he very well could decide to do so shortly.

      • goral

        I would not make a comparison to the Freemasons where membership is certain. In the case of the Mafia, the membership is rather unofficial and difficult for a panel to prove. In some cases coercion is at play. There are also family ties and “obligations”. It was imprudent for the pope to make that pronouncement. My objection to his interpretations of Catholic doctrine is that more often than not they’re pretty much Urbi and too confusing to go Orbi.

    • Christopher Fish

      I think the loss is in translation. There are two things talked about in reference to ‘church’. One is the physical church here on earth , it is an organization with rules and a specific procedure by which people are ousted from the group, called excommunication. In the wider ,older and more biblical since though ‘church’ refers to the ‘gathering’ or ‘congregating’ of people that come to Jesus. I have read from multiple sources the bibles word we translate as church means ‘gathering together’. So in that since if you have turned your back on Jesus and are moving away from him you are not ‘church’

      • melanie jean juneau

        well said. this is an interesting on my blog…Vatican II was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Collegiality pertains to the very essence of Christianity. It is not an optional extra. Pope Francis is implementing what should have been implemented 50 years ago:”

        • Christopher Fish

          sorry, I’m confused. The word implementing, means to me. To put a plan into action. What has Pope Francis done that is any different then any of his predecessors , with perhaps the exception of tone. Collegiality is part of how the church has universally understood herself from the beginning. Nothing new or even particularly novel was introduced to the notion during Vatican II. In fact the first way the church is infallible is as a organic whole. Papal infallibility is a result of the fact the Jesus will not let his message be destroyed by men and is a consequence of general infallibility of the bishops with the pope being their leader and able to cast a ‘tie breaking’ vote as it were. The first example of which we see in the book of acts where (pope) Peter stands up in front of all the apostles ( bishops) some of whom had argued that the gentiles needed to be circumcised and tells them he had a dream and this is the way it should be. No one questioned it further, edicts are issued and the whole church is informed.

          • melanie jean juneau

            I meant to say that this was an interesting COMMENT on my blog post about Pope Francis from a well respected author on mystcial prayer and tradition which I did not completely understand either. Great explantation of Collegiality. I have asked him for a clarification because I usually agree with him

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            That is not an example of infallibility.

            Bishops are infallible only insofar as they tech what has always been taught and the issue of collegiality is still under dispute as it does not mean what you claim it does.

            You claim the church has always understood collegiality as V2 did. Please source that claim

          • Pax

            “You claim the church has always understood collegiality as V2 did. Please source that claim” — if the claim was not true then V2 declared heresy and was a schismatic. Since all the Bishops participated and the Popes support V2 it is would then be obvious the gates of hell had prevailed against the church and therefore that Jesus was not God.

            My point is ANY good interpretation of V2 begins with the assumption that it ‘taught nothing new’ but only developed what existed in a organic fashion.

            As for a source. I’ll give you the 1917 version of the catholic encyclopedia.

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

          • goral

            Pope Paul VI did note that the “smoke of Satan had entered the Temple”. I’m just a pre-school theologian so I can’t explain that but it certainly sounds to me like the gates of hell laying the groundwork for a major assault.
            They will not prevail but we are in a defensive mode as Western Christianity is crumbling and the Church Militant is flatfooted.

          • Pax

            I can’t necessarily disagree. Certainly the heresy of Protestantism has a strong hold on much of the church, but I trust in what the master is doing. I think that much of the ‘problem with Francis’ however, ( as there was with Benedict and JPII, is that much of what they say must be taken first and foremost in the context of existing catholic tradition. If you fail to view what they say through that lens each of them is open to easy misinterpretation. (To my knowledge, none of them is has said anything schismatic, in it’s nature). They each during their lifetimes have been taken for a ride in the media, which is always altogether to ready to demonize or angelisize ( in there eyes) statements of honest men, for the sake of sensationalize, ratings and promoting perverse political agenda’s.

            Have you forgotten how pope Benedict was ready to reverse the churches teaching on birth control because he said ‘condom use by male prostitutes may be a first step in recognizing the humanity of the other involved in the transaction’?
            ( note the single quotes I am summarizing I don’t have time to look the exact quote up right now.

            Or
            Have you forgotten how pope JPII was right there and ready to allow women in the priesthood because he declared that girls could be alter servers if the local bishop approved of it?

            Of coarse that isn’t and never was the intention of either of those men. I have yet to see Francis actually say or do something that is any strong departure from the past.

            I believe he is sincerely looking for solutions to problems like. Why is it the church grants so many annulments? and How can we deal with people who have put themselves in the impossible situation of say having abandoned their first marriage for 20 years ‘remarried’ and had children with a second person and now want to return to the church?
            ( not that I want to debate that here, just I do believe he is looking for better ways , that remain within the teachings of the church).

          • mmelanie jean juneau

            Your comments are wise, balanced and insightful

          • Pax

            Thank you for your compliment. That is certainly what I hope for on a day I do well.

      • melanie jean juneau

        well said. this is an interesting commeny on my blog…Vatican II was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Collegiality pertains to the very essence of Christianity. It is not an optional extra. Pope Francis is implementing what should have been implemented 50 years ago:”

      • goral

        In the wider sense, congregating under any religious banner could be considered church. Jesus doesn’t need to be the focus.
        That seems to be the wider, inclusive interpretation of the Pope.
        In a narrower definition, Jesus is there as the focus and “where Peter is, there is the Church”.
        This should be our Pope’s focus as well.
        I don’t quite know what MJJ refers to that “should have been implemented 50 yrs ago”.

        • Christopher Fish

          I believe you are correct the greek ‘Ekklesia’ could refer to any gathering of people for a purpose. I think it may even have applied to political assemblies. For the record I’m no Greek scholar though.

          Of coarse the Greek that existed in biblical times would not have had a specific word that meant exactly what Christians wanted to express when they said ‘Jesus’s church’ and all of our theology and books are always taken as belonging referring to that one church.

          However in English and most other language the sense in which the apostles used it is the only sense that remains , and in that sense it means ‘the people gathered to Christ’ and then more specifically as used by most Christians for 2000 years before the reformation it was equivalent to the visible body of Christ on earth which was contained within ‘the church’.

          • goral

            Yes indeed, we use the word church within a certain context. I believe it was our Church with Christ’s precedence that gave the Church a sex. She is the Bride of Christ. The Pope knows that! So what is he trying to pull here? Why is his inclusiveness excluding the Catholic definition? Does he want to be the head of a different church? Yes, we do welcome and tolerate and encourage others to join us in spirit and in truth. We’re not the Muslim church. I propose that we ignore his statements for a month and then every other month after that, just so that we can keep our thinking straight.

          • Christopher Fish

            Why is his inclusiveness excluding the Catholic definition? I can’t really guess at his motivations , can you? Some things I would observer.
            1 whatever we are reading is a translation of what he is saying.
            2. He is not speaking in his native language. ( so we are really reading a translation of his translation of what he means).
            3. In talking about the church coming from before Christ and extending beyond those canonically recognized as members he is accurately using the churches definition of ‘the church triumphant’, which includes for instance Moses, Elijah and all the prophets as members and comes pretty much directly from the bible “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”.

            In the article he refers to the church as ‘she’ so I’m sure what the other question about ‘sex’ has to do with?

          • goral

            I can’t read into his motives either, I don’t need to do that. Just on the face of it, he is perceived as weak and leftist (one and the same) in his thinking by we traditionalists. He’s not there to please me but he is there to be understood. You are very generous and charitable to him to ascribe to the cloudiness of his talks – translations. I would be a lot happier to hear from him once a month. At this point I perceive him to be an activist pope. That’s a lot different from his predecessors who were engaged popes.

            I will reserve my judgement longer, but articles that I read, reach into their cache of adjectives and come up with “marxist”.

          • Christopher Fish

            well, he does come from a country where Marxism is the predominant political philosophy so , like our american priests, he may well have some influence on his thinking from his culture. As far as being weak, I have yet to see any sign of that. Consider his action in dealing with the Vatican bank or , indirectly in dealing with ‘ Leadership Conference of Women Religious’. He has shown restraint but very firm hand.

            As far as tone, i think it might be helpful to reflect on the fact that Jesus himself was considered weak, by many. Remember at the time he was in a country occupied by hostiles, with many, including some of his own disciples being zealots. The zealots where a kind of terrorist organization, they would do things like sneak into roman barracks and kill every other solider , in an attempt to demoralize the Romans and make the leave. Yet, he spent time with enemy collaborators ( tax collectors) and other public sinners. He refused to condemned a woman who was , by law, rightfully condemned ( although the exact reason he did has been a subject of theological debate for centuries). Also, he performed a kind of legal slight of hand by not condemning the paying of taxes to Rome with the famous ‘render on to Cesar what is Cesar’s’. Then at the end of his life refused to fight , even to save himself and his disciples being lead, ‘like a lamb to the slaughter’.

            So is Jesus weak or leftest, some would say so.
            However I would argue that scripture also shows another side. A man who fashioned a chord of whips a drove man and beast from the temple. A man so strong and fierce that when a crowd came to arrest him the sound of his voice caused them to ‘fall back’. A man who did not hesitate to call out the leaders of his day and call them ‘a brood of vipers’ and ‘dead men in whitewashed tombs’. A man with so strong that when being nailed to the cross , with the full power to end his own suffering even at that moment, instead choose to die and say ‘forgive them father for the know not what they do’.

            From what I can tell all three of our last popes were a fairly far cry from the goal of being ‘like Christ’ , but i wouldn’t hesitate to say that all of them were making an earnest and humble attempt to be holy as the father in heaven is holy. If that is case , they are the ones God has placed in charge now and so we must submit to their authority as we would to Peter or Jesus himself and impart to them the best of motives in interpreting that obedience. I trust in Christ promise that the His church will stand the test of time regardless of all the imperfections of all the men HE chooses to lead us. Do you believe Jesus choose Francis as our leader?

          • goral

            In the broad sense of your question, Jesus did choose Francis just as he chose Peter and Judas. We are subject to his authority, good or bad. God has an agenda and bad men also serve his purpose. Yet there is free will and free ballots. God left the smoke to its own shade. The Church has worked through a lot worse than this. I continue to give our pope the benefit of doubt. I’ll just have to tune him out periodically. As far as his predecessors, I loved them. They were “strong”. I use the word to denote doctrinal, philosophical and spiritual strength. That’s where I think Francis 1 is weak. I’m convinced that the same Vatican powers that ousted BXVI, gave us FI, fiat!
            Thanks for your exchanges.

  • johnnyc

    One Holy Catholic and Apostolic.

    • melanie jean juneau

      An open, compassionate, INCLUSIVE attitude to “outsiders” does not mean the pope is rejecting the reality of the Body of Christ, or that he does not believe that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth. He is building bridges. No one ever saved a non believer by throwing stones of condemnation. with a selfrighteous attitude. Jesus was also accused of rejecting the holy, chosen people of God , who obeyed God’s rules, when he hung out with outsiders.

  • goral

    I would like to know, specifically, what the Holy See is doing for the streams of Christians who are fleeing across borders to escape the Muslim murderers.
    What about the inclusive, borderline crazy woman from Frisco. What is she doing besides burning jet fuel and running her mouth?

    • melanie jean juneau

      Not all of the pope’s prayers, thoughts, intents, actions, words. letters or pleas make it to the news. We are noy privy to his heart’s intent. We are not privy to what God is telling him to do. We cannot judge

      • goral

        Stop the judging caution, Ms. Juneau. It’s the Holy See’s responsibility to make sure that the pressing issues of the day make it to the news. Catholic news sources would do that for him if not the mediocre lying media. God is telling him to do the same thing he’s telling us – help our fellow Christians. The Tragedy of our time are the Christians on the front lines abandoning their ancient domiciles because the feckless western Christians are not helping them to stay. Instead, we’re being inclusive of the Islam world that wants to do nothing more than put Mohamed at the center of everything, Basically we have the Fascists in this country supporting the Fascists in the Middle East. Our Church used to oppose that. What happened in the last ten years?
        We had a change of guard everywhere. The present rulers who chide us not to judge are now as uber judgmental as they’ve always been.

        • melanie jean juneau

          I stand chastized with your point taken…In fact all your points are valid BUT I still contend that it is impossible to assume that the pope is doing nothing behind the scenes, demanding that the public be informed of all complicated negotiations or correspondance. You can’t assume the worst. It would be more efficacious to pray that he does the will of God

          • goral

            It’s not my intent to “chastise” the author of a thoughtful article but rather to have an engaging exchange on points where we may disagree. It’s good sport and a learning experience. Let’s pray as you say, Ms. Juneau, and do anything else that we can to help our Christian brothers and sisters. By now we should have some instructions from leaders who could mobilize the troops.

          • melanie jean juneau

            laughing .. it IS good sport isn’t it? i love sparring with words.. well said

  • cpsho

    “I was pleasantly surprised that his definition of Church included “a much
    broader reality, which opens to the whole of humanity ….She was founded
    by Jesus but is a people with a long history behind it and a
    preparation that began much before Christ himself.”

    The idea that a sense of church did not begin with Jesus or Peter was
    a whole new concept for me. It made so much sense as the Holy Father
    explained that the church began even in Genesis” – Melanie Jean Juneau
    .
    With due respects, do you really believe what you are saying?

    Jesus existed before time began, so how could the Church have started before Jesus. My advice check the Creed [ cf born of the Father before Time began]
    .
    So what are you and Pope Francis talking about?

    • The Church existed before Christ walked this earth, since it began with God calling a people to be his own back in Genesis. really, is it that hard to read it, and people have to always look for the worst?

      • melanie jean juneau

        Well said Kevin. I agree.
        Why do people jump on the pope as he tries to open us up to the profound mysteries of God and the Church?
        It is a naïve idea of God and the Mystical Body of Christ and the Church which attempts to make Him appear to be a finite ‘object’ or a ‘thing’ . We see darkly, partiall from our puny, physical position in the universe. The Trinity, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Word who was made flesh existed from the beginning. The Church was has its roots in the community of the Trinity and as kevin says the call to man to share in that community. It is a mystery which human thought and words can barely skim the surface. Jesus gave us parables, the Church gives us teaching, explanation and dogma but they are only a shadow of the reality.

        • cpsho

          Precisely my point. The Church has its its roots in the Trinity so how can the Church exist before Christ the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity?
          Please can you clarify?

          • melanie jean juneau

            I am not a theologian. I am not an expert on the Trinity But I do know this much, IN Genesis, during creation, God refers to Himself as WE
            Then God said, “Let us make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness,
            Again in the Gospel of John
            John 1:1 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD.2 He was WITH GOD in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
            the trinity, a community always existed, the word was not made flesh yet, he had not yet sent the comfprter but the Holy Spirit was not created, he was part of the WE, part of the community that God invited Abraham to become part of.

            ,

          • Pax

            Can there be a ‘before the second person of the trinity’? I think you mean ‘before the incarnation’. Two very different things. Also, ‘before Christ act of salvation’ is a good way to put it.

            However, it seems you are precluding the idea that people can join the church after they are dead. So far as I know the theology is something like this. All of the saints who are in haven are part of the body and Christ and the church triumphant. That of coarse includes figures like , Moses, Abraham, Adam, eve, Ruth , David , Judith ect. All of whom, presumably waited in the Limbo of the fathers , until such time as Jesus “descended to the dead” (from the apostles creed) and preached to them. So when he “ascended into heaven” all those who died before the resurrection became part of the church.

          • melanie jean juneau

            Expressed beautifully in a simple and profound way. Although I knew these facts, I hadn’t put it altogether and articulated it. Thank-you; I will remember and use this explanation of Church

  • goral

    Stats show that church attendance has dropped a hundred thousand in the last decade. While Pope Francis is widening the definition of Church, the participants are narrowing. The point is moot if the net that Peter casts is broader but the spacing is larger so the smaller fish are swimming away.
    Funerals are holding steady, there’s our bright spot.

    “Georgetown’s CARA Institute published a study indicating that
    nationwide, baptisms, marriages, and confirmations are way down.
    Funerals, however, have remained consistent. Kinda’ depressing for the
    U.S. because I truly believe that the only thing that can save this
    country is a massive return to the Church.”

    • I’ve got nothing else to say from this, but the idea “Francis is widening the definition of the Church” can only be said by, being honest, someone who hasn’t even taken a theology for pre-schoolers.

      The Catholic Church has always professed that the Old testament believers and prophets were part of the Church as well. In the East, most of them are venerated as saints. They existed before Christ.

      The Church has also held that Protestants, even through baptism, are in a very limited sense joined to the Church and part of its mystery, even if to a very deficient degree. For as Leo XIII taught, Christ’s sacred heart claims the souls in bondage of even baptized heretics.

      One can’t even hope to correctly diagnose the problems in the Church today if one lacks even a cursory understanding of the most fundamental of her doctrines such as the nature of the Church.

      • Amateur Brain Surgeon

        There has also only been one religion in that religion means bond with God and it was God who established religion and a major consequence of that is if it is true (it is) that there has always been only one true religion; thus, all the other false faiths are not worthy of the name religion.

        Psalm 95 describes the Gods worshipped by acolytes of case faiths as demons

        The assisi events and the Sacred Feast of Pentecost prayers with acolytes of false faiths in the vatican gardens is an execrable example of practical indifferentism owing to the plain and simple truth that those who are members of false faiths worship demons – actions speak louder than words.

        Mr. Tierney, you noted that some lack….” even a cursory understanding …such as the nature of the Church..” but this is a rather weak explanation of the nature of the Church, no?

        You have your work cut out for you in trying to defend what it is that is said by the Bishop of Rome for when it comes to Our Holy Father clear definitions and doctrines are absent from virtually everything he says.

        And that is just another way of observing the absence of continuity.

        I know you know of the Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X and I’ll bet you could, from memory, tell everyone what he teaches about who is and isn’t a member of the Church and the same goes for the Baltimore Catechism and the same goes for the Roman Catechism.

        • goral

          Indeed Amateur Brain Surgeon, the Pope’s apologists never had to open up the Catechism as often as they do now. It’s all good. We conservative believers benefit from it also. The imprecise utterances or our Holy Father are giving theologians some consternation.
          His last memorable one for me was that the Communists stole the Church’s banner on helping the poor.
          OMG! I don’t even want to start on that one. Was it the red banner? Let’s wave the R.W.&B. banner. Happy Fourth!

        • melanie jean juneau

          I am in tears, heartbroken by your attitude, I am frightened that you represent upstanding some Catholics who would debase fellow Christians by labelling them as demon worshippers.
          Todays gospel speaks to your attitude:

          The Pharisees seeing this attitude of Jesus, ask the disciples: “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answers them.“Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice”. Jesus hears the question of the Pharisees to the disciples and he answers with two clarifications: the first one is taken from common sense: “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick”. The second one is taken from the Bible: “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice”. Jesus clarifies his mission among the people: “I have not come to call the upright but sinners”. For Jesus, mercy is more important than legal purity. He refers to the prophetic tradition to say that mercy has greater value for God than all sacrifices .

          Where is our humility and charity for those who are trying to follow Jesus based on what they have been taught? I am a convert to Cathlicism 40 years ago at the age of 19. but I became a disciple of Jesus at 16 years old through people who loved Him. They did not have the full truth as revealed in the Catholic Church but they loved God, Protestants know His Son and are filled with the HOLY Spirit, even if they are not blessed by all the spiritualc riches that are part of Roman Catholicism.

          The kindest explanation I can come up with is that you have never fellowshiped or prayed with other Christians. You are intolerant but Christ is not. and neither is the pope.

          • Pax

            I’ve always considered the relationship between the protestant churches and the Catholic church to be not dissimilar to the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus explained the difference by saying to the Samaritan woman ‘You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.’

            That being said, Jesus showed time and time again that even the Samaritans were part of the people God was calling.

          • melanie jean juneau

            “Jesus showed time and time again that even the Samaritans were part of the people God was calling.” Your comparrison betweem the Samaritans and the protestant churches is brilliant.. Thank-you for this new insight /

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            Dear Mom of Nine. All ABS did was reference Psalm 95 which constitutes part of Divine Revelation. As to what is scary about this, it must be assumed that the truth divides, no?

            That is certainly what Jesus did; He divided and He even called those who claimed descent from Abraham – the children of Satan – that is, it is not a matter of race which is material to whether or not one is part of the one true religion but a matter of faith.

            The Jews who accepted Jesus as Messias became part of His Church and those who did not became Messias-Deniers and in danger of Hell Fire -but, who will warn them?

            Certainly not modern Popes.

            One born into and raised in a False Faith -protestantism – is not personally culpable until he is old enough to search for the truth and you are not helping the matter by pretending that everyone is part of the one true Church.

            Such an attitude is of Satan; he cleaves men from the one true Church and gets them to cleave to him by spreading the ideology of indifferentism and modern Popes have been loathe to speak about this truth.

            O, and it is not my fault for writing what has always been believed.

            ABS has a lot of admiration for you giving birth to nine children but not so much if your attitude is – as it seems to be – that everyone, including protestants, is a member of the one true religion/ the one true Church.

            No offense, sister, but we adults must put aside the ways of children and let our yes be a yes and our no be a no..

            pax tecum, Mom

          • melanie jean juneau

            No, actually, the attitudes which are of Satan are not charity, patience and tolerance of those who do not yet grasp the fullness of God’s revelations but self-righteous indignation. Intolerant attitides of the ‘upright’ tortured scientists for saying the world is round , burned innocent women as witches at the stake as societies scapegoats during the Black Plague, treated others not as human beings but as demons and waged religious wars aginst heathens, killing innocent children in the name of God.

            Truth must be spoken yes, you are correct but spoken in Love. Satan spoke facts, quoted scripture in the desert to Christ but without Love. Jesus countered Satan’s biblical quote with another scripture which balanced it. In the mouth of someone whose is angry or hateful, ‘truths’ condemn people; they do not bring them to God or the Catholic Chuch.

            Jeusus says to the self-righteous, “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice”. Jesus clarifies his mission among the people: “I have not come to call the upright but sinners”. In order to call sinners. CHRIST THE SON OF GOD lived among them because healing light and truth spoken in Love calls sinners, not scorn.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            Mom. Who committed those acts limned in your first paragraph?

            What ABS wrote was the plain and simple truth which you have, unfairly, tried to reframe as self-righteousness.

            But you do not seem capable of, well, handling the truth; so, adios.

          • mmelanie jean juneau

            Members of the Catholic Church who were more concerned with purity than mercy committed those acts of brutality against people they deemed to be demon worshipers. In most cases the people were innocent. The need to “stone the sinner” arises out of an attitude of intolerance, pride and self-righteousness

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            “As for us, if we want to form Church….”

            are your words

            You are quick to judge the innocence of dead witches and then guilt of dead Catholics so I am not at all surprised to read you deny the clear meaning of what you wrote.

            We do not form Church.

            That aside, do you think protestants are members of the Catholic Church or are they members of some greater invisible church?

          • mmelanie jean juneau

            As for the Church’s attitude to protestants, I will simply quote Kevin.”The Catholic Church has always professed that the Old testament believers and prophets were part of the Church as well. In the East, most of them are venerated as saints. They existed before Christ.

            The Church has also held that Protestants, even through baptism, are in a very limited sense joined to the Church and part of its mystery, even if to a very deficient degree. For as Leo XIII taught, Christ’s sacred heart claims the souls in bondage of even baptized heretics.

            I KNOW through personal experience that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth as revealed so far by Divine Revelation.That does not mean we do not treat others with respect, charity and tolerance.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            No. Prots are not past of the Church. Period.

            You claim otherwise but such is a novelty.

            O, and as expected, you did not quote any Magisterial Teaching as to who is in the Church.

          • melanie jean juneau

            Laughing but I agree with you; the point of my entire article . as well as the pope’s point in his address, is that we do not form church on our own, with human ideas and methods. Why do you keep repeating only the introductory phrase of my sentence?The meaning of the entire sentence is that we listen and respond in obedience to God who takes the initiative. Which means that God forms church, using us to fufill His will on earth.

          • goral

            Those who criticize the Church always put forth the example of Galileo as a definitive judgement on the Church. There is truth in it but it’s not the complete truth, therefore it’s a heresy. Those who use it to buttress their argument are heretics. The complete truth is that it was far more than just a Church matter, although those involved were Catholic churchmen.
            Copernicus, who preceded Galileo by almost a century was a Catholic churchman, educated in Catholic schools and steeped in Canon Law. There was more religious tolerance in the Kingdom of Poland than in the Duchy of Florence so Copernicus was not persecuted, in fact, the Church took an interest in his work. That should tell us that in the case of Galileo there were politics, power plays and downright devious and devilish churchmen who were protecting their own interests.
            In fact, it was Protestants who attacked Copernicus for his posits and would easily have used their influence to “curb” his activity, had they been members of the Church. So the attacks that used as being peculiarly Catholic are actually just characteristics of human nature and people protecting the status quo.

            “In 1533, Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter delivered a series of lectures in Rome outlining Copernicus’ theory. Pope Clement VII and several Catholic cardinals heard the lectures and were interested in the theory. On 1 November 1536, Cardinal Nikolaus von Schönberg, Archbishop of Capua, wrote to Copernicus from Rome:

            Some years ago word reached me concerning your proficiency, of which everybody constantly spoke. At that time I began to have a very high regard for you… For I had learned that you had not merely mastered the discoveries of the ancient astronomers uncommonly well but had also formulated a new cosmology”

            “Some of Copernicus’ close friends turned Protestant, but Copernicus never showed a tendency in that direction. The first attacks on him came from Protestants. Wilhelm Gnapheus, a Dutch refugee settled in Elbl?g, wrote a comedy in Latin, Morosophus (The Foolish Sage), and staged it at the Latin school that he had established there. In the play, Copernicus was caricatured as a haughty,
            cold, aloof man who dabbled in astrology, considered himself inspired by God, and was rumored to have written a large work that was moldering in a chest.

            Elsewhere Protestants were the first to react to news of Copernicus’ theory. Melanchthon wrote:

            Some people believe that it is excellent and correct to work out a thing as absurd as did that Sarmatian [i.e., Polish] astronomer who moves the earth and stops the sun. Indeed, wise rulers should have curbed such light-mindedness.”

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            No, actually, the attitudes which are of Satan are not charity, patience and tolerance..

            Who in the world are you writing that to? Who ever wrote such a thing?

            You are impossible to have an exchange with for you can not stick to the point but you can make all manner of accusations against the motives of others you presume to judge – they are hateful, bitter, self-righteous etc etc.

            Please identify one word- just one – that gives you cause to accuse others of hating you.

            Lord have merc

          • melanie jean juneau

            I am responding to the phrase that ” those who are members of false faiths worship demons “.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            O; well, then, you problem is with Divine Reevelation.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            Tell us who the Catholics were who tortured scientists who claimed the world was round.

          • melanie jean juneau

            I love the Church and forgive her mistakes. I also understand that often those in power do not Love but are intolerant, murdering or hating people who do not agree with them. Jesus says if we hate, it is the same as murdering.
            Spherical Earth
            The astronomer and professor at Bologna Cecco d’Ascolii was burnt alive by the church in 1327 for daring to suggest that men may live on the other side of the world.

            “The Earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved.” -Psalms 104:5
            This scripture was used to condemn Galileo. “To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.”Cardinal Bellarmine, during the trial of Galileo, 1615.
            It was this verse that was used as evidence against Galileo, who argued for the theory of Copernicus, that the earth is not immovable, but rotates around the sun. It was for teaching this that he was called to Rome in 1633, and tried for the crime of heresy. The aged Galileo, in his 70’s, was taken down into the dungeons of the church and shown the instruments of torture that were going to be used on him if he did not recant. Fearing the torture, and fearing that he might share the fate of Giordano Bruno, whom the church burned at the stake a generation earlier for the same crime, Galileo recanted the truth. He was confined to his home under house arrest, neither allowed to leave or to receive visitors, for the last seven years of his life.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            You are as wrong about Galileo as you are wrong about nearly everything else.

            Where do you get your ideas? Certainly not from the facts

      • goral

        “I’ve got nothing else to say”, is a good response, Mr. Tierney. Your observation about my preschool theology brings fond remembrances:
        “It was a childish ignorance,

        But now ’tis little joy

        To know I’m farther off from heav’n

        Than when I was a boy.” Thomas Hood
        Preschool theology is still better than liberation theology coming from the Left Catholics. Not to be confused with the Catholics that are left.
        Keep in mind that Luther and Calvin and many other German and non-German
        heretics were also great theologians.
        I never mentioned Old Testament believers or
        Protestants as not being in the Body of Christ. That’s rather presumptuous of you to predicate. Melchizedek was a
        priest, what need is there for a priest if there is no Church?
        I have no argument with the Pope’s definition, expanded or not. No pope or theologian can redefine the Church. It is the mystery of the Body of Christ. My comments address the largely academic and theological slant that his remarks intoned. I’m saying that unless we can get the numbers up, we’ll be registering the count from the church of the Golden Arches, in order to make it a significant body.
        Talk about junk religion.

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Whoever said the Church was just the clergy or the vatican?

    I don;t see any definition of what the Church is and as to the author’s remark, “..if we wish to form Church…” that is not an enterprise individuals engage in.

    These audiences contribute to the flummification of the faithful

    • melanie jean juneau

      “as to the author’s remark, “..if we wish to form Church…” that is not an enterprise individuals engage in.”But that was exacty my point! God forms Church; we listen , obey and follow Him. God initiates not us.

      • Amateur Brain Surgeon

        That can not be your point for you wrote “As for us, if we want to form Church…”

        You are now denying the clear meaning of what you wrote. One of your problems is that you are loathe to define the meaning of Church but you are quick to judge dead Catholics guilty.

        ABS could post the simple explanation of what is required for one to be a member of the Catholic Church but he would be doing work you need to do if you are going to be writing publicly.

        Please do some work and learn what one must do to be a member of His Church.

        • melanie jean juneau

          Why do you keep repeating only the introductory phrase of my sentence?The meaning of the entire sentence is that we listen and respond in obedience to God who takes the initiative. Which means that God forms Church.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            The opening clause – “As for us, if we want to form Church..” MEANS that we form Church…

            At least it means that in the real world.

            In any event, this is going nowhere

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            For Lurkers;

            The author of this piece is wrong about Galileo

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy

            and, having plucked rbi snake from obscurity, she is wrong about this dreadful man and wrong about the putative cause of his capital crime (begins on page 111)

            http://tinyurl.com/nz4etce

            What the author writes about the Church’s is the sort of charity and love of the Church which one sees routinely expressed in modernity

          • goral

            I arrive at the same conclusion using Wikipedia. This is the preferred source for Modernists who think that the Imprimatur at the end of an article is actually the Catholic Executioner.

  • goral

    Please, Ms. Juneau, no tears. Let me help by lightening the topic.
    Samaritans – in, Sunnis – out, except on a sunni day. I let myself go on aholiday weekend and Worldcup. There is more blessing and praying taking place on the field and in the stands then there is in church. The Holy Father will be watching. Oh yeah, Argentina – in.

    • melanie jean juneau

      Thank-you for this comment; I let my rational, commen sense slip for a moment and let his bitterness and hatred attack me personally as someone whose family remains protestant.

    • melanie jean juneau

      Thank-you for this comment; I let rational, commen sense slip for a moment and let his hatred attack me.personally, since I am someone whose family remains protestant

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon

    SATIS COGNITUM
    ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII
    ON THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

    From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error: as also are those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the perennial communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by constant and undoubted signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God. It is assuredly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ can be the one or the other, as that man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of the soul and body is to human nature. The Church is not something dead: it is the body of Christ endowed with supernatural life. As Christ, the Head and Exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, which Photinians and Nestorians assert, nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, as the Monophysites hold, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the mystical body of Christ is the true Church, only because its visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence. But since the Church is such by divine will and constitution, such it must uniformly remain to the end of time. If it did nor, then it would not have been founded as perpetual, and the end set before it would have been limited to some certain place and to some certain period of time; both of which are contrary to the truth. The union consequently of visible and invisible elements because it harmonizes with the natural order and by God’s will belongs to the very essence of the Church, must necessarily remain so long as the Church itself shall endure. Wherefore Chrysostom writes: “Secede not from the Church: for nothing is stronger than the Church. Thy hope is the Church; thy salvation is the Church; thy refuge is the Church. It is higher than the heavens and wider than the earth. It never grows old, but is ever full of vigour. Wherefore Holy Writ pointing to its strength and stability calls it a mountain” (Hom.De capto Eutropio, n. 6).

    He who seeks the truth must be guided by these fundamental principles. That is to say, that Christ the Lord instituted and formed the Church: wherefore when we are asked what its nature is, the main thing is to see what Christ wished and what in fact He did. Judged by such a criterion it is the unity of the Church which must be principally considered; and of this, for the general good, it has seemed useful to speak in this Encyclical. ,

    How Christ Made His Church

    4. It is so evident from the clear and frequent testimonies of Holy Writ that the true Church of Jesus Christ is one, that no Christian can dare to deny it. But in judging and determining the nature of this unity many have erred in various ways. Not the foundation of the Church alone, but its whole constitution, belongs to the class of things effected by Christ’s free choice. For this reason the entire case must be judged by what was actually done. We must consequently investigate not how the Church may possibly be one, but how He, who founded it, willed that it should be one.

    But when we consider what was actually done we find that Jesus Christ did not, in point of fact, institute a Church to embrace several communities similar in nature, but in themselves distinct, and lacking those bonds which render the Church unique and indivisible after that manner in which in the symbol of our faith we profess: “I believe in one Church.”

    “The Church in respect of its unity belongs to the category of things indivisible by nature, though heretics try to divide it into many parts…We say, therefore, that the Catholic Church is unique in its essence, in its doctrine, in its origin, and in its excellence…Furthermore, the eminence of the Church arises from its unity, as the principle of its constitution – a unity surpassing all else, and having nothing like unto it or equal to it” (S. Clemens Alexandrinus,Stronmatum lib. viii., c. 17). For this reason Christ, speaking of the mystical edifice, mentions only one Church, which he calls His own-“I will build my church;” any other Church except this one, since it has not been founded by Christ, cannot be the true Church. This becomes even more evident when the purpose of the Divine Founder is considered. For what did Christ, the Lord, ask? What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly resolved to do: this He actually did. “As the Father bath sent me, I also send you” (John xx., 21). “Ad thou bast sent Me into the world I also have sent them into the world” (John xvii., 18).

    But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. “The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him” (John iii., 17). “For there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved” (Acts iv., 12). The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing there from. Wherefore, by the will of its Founder, it is necessary that this Church should be one in all lands and at all times. to justify the existence of more than one Church it would be necessary to go outside this world, and to create a new and unheard – of race of men.

    That the one Church should embrace all men everywhere and at all times was seen and foretold by Isaiah, when looking into the future he saw the appearance of a mountain conspicuous by its all surpassing altitude, which set forth the image of “The House of the Lord” – that is, of the Church, “And in the last days the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains” (Isa. ii., 2).

    But this mountain which towers over all other mountains is one; and the House of the Lord to which all nations shall come to seek the rule of living is also one. “And all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go, and say: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths” (Ibid., ii., 2-3).

    Explaining this passage, Optatus of Milevis says: “It is written in the prophet Isaiah: ‘from Sion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ For it is not on Mount Sion that Isaiah sees the valley, but on the holy mountain, that is, the Church, which has raised itself conspicuously throughout the entire Roman world under the whole heavens….The Church is, therefore, the spiritual Sion in which Christ has been constituted King by God the Father, and which exists throughout the entire earth, on which there is but one Catholic Church” (De Schism. Donatist., lib. iii., n. 2). And Augustine says: “What can be so manifest as a mountain, or so well known? There are, it is true, mountains which are unknown because they are situated in some remote part of the earth…..But this mountain is not unknown; for it has filled the whole face of the world, and about this it is said that it is prepared on the summit of the mountains” (In Ep. Joan., tract i., n. 13).

    Christ the Head of the Church

    5. 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.,B> “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).

    Unity in Faith

    6. But He, indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it unity, that is, He made it such that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form one society, one kingdom, one body – “one body and one spirit as you are called in one hope of your calling (Eph. iv., 4). Jesus Christ, when His death was nigh at hand, declared His will in this matter, and solemnly offered it up, thus addressing His Father: “Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me…that they also may be one in Us…that they may be made perfect in one” (John xvii., 20-21 23). Yea, He commanded that this unity should be so closely knit and so perfect amongst His followers that it might, in some measure, shadow forth the union between Himself and His Father: “I pray that they all may be one as Thou Father in Me and I in Thee” (Ibid. 21).

    Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of thefaithful – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. iv., 5). That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith. And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. i., 10). Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves. Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faith. It is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized. And, as We have already stated, this is not to be ascertained by conjecture, but by the certain knowledge of what was done; that is by seeking for and ascertaining what kind of unity in faith has been commanded by Jesus Christ.

    The Kind of Unity in Faith Commanded by Christ

    7. The heavenly doctrine of Christ, although for the most part committed to writing by divine inspiration, could not unite the minds of men if left to the human intellect alone. It would, for this very reason, be subject to various and contradictory interpretations. This is so, not only because of the nature of the doctrine itself and of the mysteries it involves, but also because of the divergencies of the human mind and of the disturbing element of conflicting passions. From a variety of interpretations a variety of beliefs is necessarily begotten; hence come controversies, dissensions and wranglings such as have arisen in the past, even in the first ages of the Church. Irenaeus writes of heretics as follows: “Admitting the sacred Scriptures they distort the interpretations” (Lib. iii., cap. 12, n. 12). And Augustine: “Heresies have arisen, and certain perverse views ensnaring souls and precipitating them into the abyss only when the Scriptures, good in themselves, are not properly understood” (In Evang. Joan., tract xviii., cap. 5, n. I). Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men’s minds – to effect and preserve unity of ideas – that there should be another principle. This the wisdom of God requires: for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth as We shall presently point out. Assuredly the infinite power of God is not bound by anything, all things obey it as so many passive instruments. In regard to this external principle, therefore, we must inquire which one of all the means in His power Christ did actually adopt. For this purpose it is necessary to recall in thought the institution of Christianity.

    The Magisterium (or Teaching Authority) of the Church to be Perpetual

    8. We are mindful only of what is witnessed to by Holy Writ and what is otherwise well known. Christ proves His own divinity and the divine origin of His mission by miracles; He teaches the multitudes heavenly doctrine by word of mouth; and He absolutely commands that the assent of faith should be given to His teaching, promising eternal rewards to those who believe and eternal punishment to those who do not. “If I do not the works of my Father, believe Me not” (John x., 37). “If I had not done among them the works than no other man had done, they would not have sin” (Ibid. xv., 24). “But if I do (the works) though you will not believe Me, believe the works” (Ibid. x., 38). Whatsoever He commands, He commands by the same authority. He requires the assent of the mind to all truths without exception. It was thus the duty of all who heard Jesus Christ, if they wished for eternal salvation, not merely to accept His doctrine as a whole, but to assent with their entire mind to all and every point of it, since it is unlawful to withhold faith from God even in regard to one single point.

    Every Revealed Truth, without Exception, Must be Accepted

    9. The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing withgreater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a tertian portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).

    The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. sion” (Hist. Eccl., lib. ii., cap. 9)….

    Appeal to Sheep Not of the Fold

    16. In what has been said we have faithfully described the exemplar and form of the Church as divinely constituted. We have treated at length of its unity: we have explained sufficiently its nature, and pointed out the way in which the Divine Founder of the Church willed that it should be preserved. There is no reason to doubt that all those, who by Divine Grace and mercy have had the happiness to have been born, as it were, in the bosom of the Catholic Church, and to have lived in it, will listen to Our Apostolic Voice: “My sheep hear my voice” (John x., 27), and that they will derive from Our words fuller instruction and a more perfect disposition to keep united with their respective pastors, and through them with the Supreme Pastor, so that they may remain more securely within the one fold, and may derive therefrom a greater abundance of salutary fruit. But We, who, notwithstanding our unfitness for this great dignity and office, govern by virtue of the authority conferred on us by Jesus Christ, as we “look on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. xii., 2) feel Our heart fired by His charity. What Christ has said of Himself We may truly repeat of Ourselves: “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice” (John x., 16). Let all those, therefore, who detest the wide-spread irreligion of our times, and acknowledge and confess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the human race, but who have wandered away from the Spouse, listen to Our voice. Let them not refuse to obey Our paternal charity. Those who acknowledge Christ must acknowledge Him wholly and entirely. “The Head and the body are Christ wholly and entirely. The Head is the only-begotten son of God, the body is His Church; the bridegroom and the bride, two in one flesh. All who dissent from the Scriptures concerning Christ, although they may be found in all places in which the Church is found, are not in the Church; and again all those who agree with the Scriptures concerning the Head, and do not communicate in the unity of the Church, are not in the Church” (S. Augustinus, Contra Donatistas Epistola, sive De Unit. Eccl., cap. iv., n. 7).

    And with the same yearning Our soul goes out to those whom the foul breath of irreligion has not entirely corrupted, and who at least seek to have the true God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, as their Father. Let such as these take counsel with themselves, and realize that they can in no wise be counted among the children of God, unless they take Christ Jesus as their Brother, and at the same time the Church as their mother. We lovingly address to all the words of St. Augustine: “Let us love the Lord our God; let us love His Church; the Lord as our Father, the Church as our Mother. Let no one say, I go indeed to idols, I consult fortune-tellers and soothsayers; but I leave not the Church of God: I am a Catholic. Clinging to thy Mother, thou offendest thy Father. Another, too, says: ‘Far be it from me; I do not consult fortune – telling, I seek not soothsaying, I seek not profane divinations, I go not to the worship of devils, I serve not stones: but I am on the side of Donatus.’ What doth it profit thee not to offend the Father, who avenges an offence against the Mother? What doth it profit to confess the Lord, to honour God, to preach Him, to acknowledge His Son, and to confess that He sits on the right hand of the Father, if you blaspheme His Church? . . . If you had a beneficent friend, whom you honoured daily – and even once calumniated his spouse, would you ever enter his house? Hold fast, therefore, O dearly beloved, hold fast altogether God as your Father, and the Church as your Mother” (Enarratio in Psal. lxxxviii., sermo ii., n. 14).

    Given at St. Peter’s, Rome, the 29th day of June, in the year 1896, and the nineteenth of our Pontificate.

    LEO XIII

    © Copyright 1896 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon

    It has been claimed in here that the Catholic Church was wrong to have punished those who were corrupting the souls of the faithful but that is just modernism masquerading as charity;

    Mortalium Animos:

    “For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of “naturalism,” as they call it, dare to teach that “the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.” And, against the doctrine of Scripture, of the Church, and of the Holy Fathers, they do not hesitate to assert that “that is the best condition of civil society, in which no duty is recognized, as attached to the civil power, of restraining by enacted penalties, offenders against the Catholic religion, except so far as public peace may require.” From which totally false idea of social government they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor, Gregory XVI, an “insanity,” viz., that “liberty of conscience and worship is each man’s personal right, which ought to be legally proclaimed and asserted in every rightly constituted society; and that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way.” But, while they rashly affirm this, they do not think and consider that they are preaching “liberty of perdition;” and that “if human arguments are always allowed free room for discussion, there will never be wanting men who will dare to resist truth, and to trust in the flowing speech of human wisdom; whereas we know, from the very teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, how carefully Christian faith and wisdom should avoid this most injurious babbling.”

    • melanie jean juneau

      John 8: Jesus Delivers the Adulterous Woman
      Christ came to save sinners BY SHOWING MERCY.Those are truly happy, whom Christ does not condemn. Christ’s favour to us in the forgiveness of past sins should prevail with us as we relate to other sinners who have yet to meet Him.
      …7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.…Go then, and sin no more.

      • Amateur Brain Surgeon

        For Heavens sake, sister. Can you not understand that the adulteress was NOT telling others than adultery was permissible whereas those previously punished by the Church WERE promoting evil and corrupting the Faith?

        That is, your response to Mortalium Animos is entirely off target.

        The Catholic Church as the DUTY to confront those teaching error even as you have the duty as a Mother to correct your children when they are sinning.

        It is either that or you can just remain silent in the face of their sinning because you too are a sinner; that’ll sure make for a happy family

        • melanie jean juneau

          The Catholic Church teaches that with their limited vision humans do not have the ability to see all the consequences of actions and events, and something they recognize as evil may also be the impetus for great good to occur: God is able to bring good even out of the evil that humans commit. When Catholics look at a troubled history that eventually led to a better situation, they recognize the hand of God drawing the whole process to a happy conclusion. In fact, this is the lesson of the felix culpa, the happy fault: human sin brought suffering into the world, but it also paved the way for God’s incarnation to occur. The evil remains evil, but the good that God causes to flow from it is greater still. According to St. Augustine, even this perception of good coming from evil is the result of a limited view: from the cosmic, eternal perspective of God, everything is ultimately good because God uses everything in the service of goodness.

          My point is that that killing, murdering and slaughtering the heretic or the sinner is not a Christ like response to evil.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            OK, ABS gets what it is you think is the right thing to do when evil is being spread; do nothing and call that inaction that charity or mercy (even though that silence and inaction confesses support of that evil accord to Tradition).

            ABS does not wish it ever to happen to you and your family but what would you say if your neighbor saw your house being invaded and put to the torch and he did nothing and defended his non-action by claiming that God could bring good out of that evil?

            Seriously, don’t answer; ABS knows you will try and justify as charity or mercy even the destruction of your own family.

            ABS wonders what you would say were the Allies have allowed Germany to continue slaughtering the Jews…don’t answer.

            ABS wonders what you would say about those who heard the screams of Kitty Genovese…nah, don’t answer.

            IT is charity and mercy to allow heretics to destroy the faith of innocent souls because that is what Shepherds are supposed to do – allow the wolves free access to the sheep because that is charity and mercy.

            It is simply indefensible madness that such inaction in the face of evil is labelled charity or mercy.

            Wow….

          • melanie jean juneau

            I did NOT say do nothing, say nothing in the face of evil. Hatred and murder is a secular response, a response of men in power; violence is not a Catholic answer. A Christ like response to evil is trusting in the real, active Power of God flowing through our intercession. Prayer is much more effective because God is in charge not man.

          • Play nice, or amateur brain surgeron gets the amateur ban hammer.

          • Amateur Brain Surgeon

            Mr. Tierney

            Seriously; this is the type of writer you are going to promote?

            ABS expects much more from a soi disant traditionalist.

            And now, ABS bows and leaves the stage to you…

  • Amateur Brain Surgeon

    The fortified town of Cassino lies at the foot of a towering mountain that shelters it within its slope and stretches upward over a distance of nearly three miles. On its summit stood a very old temple, in which the ignorant country people still worshiped Apollo as their pagan ancestors had done, and went on offering superstitious and idolatrous sacrifices in groves dedicated to various demons.
    When the man of God [St Benedict] arrived at this spot, he destroyed the idol ,overturned the altar and cut down the trees in the sacred groves. Then he turned the temple of Apollo into a chapel dedicated to St. Martin , and where Apollo’s altar had stood he built a chapel in honor of St. John the Baptist. Gradually the people of the countryside were won over to the true faith by his zealous preaching.

    -St. Gregory the Great
    The Dialogue, Book II

    Whereas, today, we refuse to condemn those who worship demons; further, we invite them to the Vatican Gardens to pray for peace; we go to their Synagogues and do not preach Christ; we go to their Mosques and praise them for their fidelity to their demonic God; and we ask a Saint to protect their False Faith.

    And we call that continuity.

    And now, ABS is done for now as there can be no rational response to our Inertia Into Indifferentism

    • goral

      Monte Casino was the site of a fierce battle in WW2. The Allies had to scale the mountain to face the Nazi guns at the top. There is a Polish song to their tribute. “The red poppies on Monte Casino instead of dew drank Polish blood and are all the more red for it.”
      The Church Militant is nowhere to be seen. Our pope is doing as much apologizing for the Church as the petty tyrant is apologizing for the US.
      The Little Sisters of the Poor are doing the fighting now.
      I don’t fault Ms. Juneau for taking a “lighter” stance. She is an incredibly busy mom and I’m sure she fights her share of battles. It’s the men in our Church who have left their “swords” at their bed or bar.
      As for Mr. Tierney, I notice a marked swerve to the left on this website since his presence as an editor. That’s the landscape for now.

      • melanie jean juneau

        Your comments triggered a conciliatory thought. Perhaps my rejection of ABS’s stance is simply because it is not in my nature to fight physically, go to war or kill. I do know my boys are wired completely differently than my girls; they are physical, aggressive, relishing in mock battles of war. NOW, some feminist will want to slam me but this difference is not the results of nurture, it is in their very nature.
        Your comment also triggered memories of when I have stood in front of crowds, shaking with indignation at any watering down of the truth. I fight many battles against modern, secular trends and thought but it is a verbal assault

        • goral

          That’s a good thing, Ms. Juneau. Our natures serve both us and the One who made us. I do think truth was watered down. A statement such as the Pope’s:
          We are “all the Church, all family, all of the Mother”,
          is at least a bit problematic. We did change the words of the Liturgy back to the original – He died for many.
          I thought you gave Francis the full benefit of any doubt while you thought some of us were being too picky. We’ve had a fair and balanced exchange as a result of your article. Of that you should be gratified. You’re a good writer and most likely even a better mother.
          God bless!

          • melanie jean juneau

            as for me,I learned a lot through your comments