Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Pope Francis Gives Roman Curia 15 Lumps of Coal for Christmas

On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis did not pull back any punches in chastising the highest-ranking officials within the Vatican leadership: the Roman Curia.  I was surprised to read the sharp criticism.  It’s like Santa gave each of the Cardinals 15 pieces of coal as Christmas gifts.  I imagine many Cardinals felt embarrassed.  It must not have been easy for Pope Francis, either.  Color commentary said the Pope read straight from his script and did not look up with impromptu elaboration like he usually does.  The full English translation can be found on America Magazine.  Here is a summary of the 15 “diseases”:

Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
  1. The sickness of considering oneself “immortal,” “indispensable” and lacking the necessary and habitual controls.  It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live forever and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves to be superior to others, rather than at their service.
  2. The sickness of excessive industriousness, or “Martha-ism,” is present in those who immerse themselves into work and neglect spending the better part sitting at Jesus’ feet (contemplative prayer).
  3. The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening occur in those who conceal themselves behind paper, who become working machines rather than of men of God.  These people cannot weep with those who weep, or rejoice with those who rejoice… sentiments that were present with Jesus Christ.
  4. The sickness of excessive planning and functionalism is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that things effectively progress with perfect planning.  They try to regulate or domesticate the Holy Spirit instead of being faithful to the Spirit’s freshness, imagination or innovation.
  5. The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.
  6. Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive decline of one’s spiritual faculties.  These are people who are incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views.  We see this in those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord, in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”. [Ouch.]
  7. The sickness of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the color of one’s robes, insignia and honors become the most important aim in life.
  8. Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honors. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
  9. The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
  10. The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honoring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
  11. The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
  12. The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
  13. The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure.
  14. The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself.
  15. Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.

Text of Pope Francis’ homily at Christmas Mass

This is a beautiful Christmas homily.

There were two parts that particularly spoke to me:

(1) God is in love with our smallness… He made himself small so that we can encounter him.

(2) Do I welcome with warmth the difficulties and problems of those near me, or do I prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective, but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel?

CNS Blog

VATICAN CITY — Here is the English translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Christmas Mass Dec. 24 in St. Peter’s Basilica:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Savior: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame…

View original post 737 more words

The Amazing Pope Francis Interview

I nearly cried when I read how Pope Francis saw himself as the sinful tax collector Matthew called by Jesus to follow him.  He referred to Caravaggio’s painting The Calling of Saint Matthew and had this to say: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’  Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.”  I guess I got emotional because I know how power and fame would go straight to my head, but here’s a man who is still filled with so much humility despite that power and fame.  He is living out the virtue of humility in the spotlight for folks like me to follow.

“The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio

The interview is as explosive as the commentators are making it out to be.  Although it’s rather long, I agree with others who say it is worth reading in full, and then again.  The original article can be found at America Magazine.

In his answer about why he chose the Jesuit order and why he decided on a room in the Santa Marta for his Papal Residence, I found myself asking myself why I’m a loner.  Am I really a loner?  Don’t I also yearn for community?  I think I hold onto this idea that I’m a loner as a badge of honor, something to be proud of because I never really fit in with the popular crowd.  It is probably closer to the truth that I desire to be a part of a group, but hold up this shield of being a loner as a defense.  I don’t want to get hurt when a group decides not to include me.

When Pope Francis talked about his management experience as a Jesuit superior of a province, I found myself reflecting on how I am as a manager.  Am I making the same mistakes?  How can I learn from the Pope’s mistakes?  While the virtue of magnanimity was a bit unclear, I think I understand what he was saying better when he described it:

Thanks to magnanimity, we can always look at the horizon from the position where we are. That means being able to do the little things of every day with a big heart open to God and to others. That means being able to appreciate the small things inside large horizons, those of the kingdom of God.

It’s easy for me to fall into the trap where I desire the bigger office, the corner office.  I even found myself thinking that a good act of humility would be to give up my current office to use as a conference room and take up a cubicle where I’m sharing the space with someone.  It would force me to go out and meet my team instead of waiting for my team to come and speak with me.

His emphasis on discernment is interesting to me.  When I first converted to the faith, I did not trust my discernment.  I always second-guessed myself and asked God to give me signs that this is what He wants me to do.  I guess I still do that.  What I found interesting was how doubt was important in the discernment process.  It’s as if there is a certainty in doubt, if that makes any sense.  By doubting whether a course is the right one, I seek God.  In seeking, I become certain of what God wants — all the while still doubting my motives!  It’s a paradox: the certainty in doubt, but it’s true.  I experienced it when I asked God about Anne Marie, whether she was His choice to be my wife.  [I should blog about that sometime.]

I loved the section when he talked about a “holy middle class.”  It’s true that modern saints like Saint Therese, Mother Teresa, or Jose Maria Escrivá lived lives that may seem far out of reach, the poor working holy class doubting he can ever become a part of the “holy upper class.”  I should not fear because it’s still possible to strive for a middle class in holiness:

“I see the holiness,” the pope continues, “in the patience of the people of God: a woman who is raising children, a man who works to bring home the bread, the sick, the elderly priests who have so many wounds but have a smile on their faces because they served the Lord, the sisters who work hard and live a hidden sanctity. This is for me the common sanctity.”

That first example is poignant: a woman who is raising children.  I definitely see the sanctity shine in my wife when she’s with our girls.  She has her flaws of course, but I see her shine with holiness as a mother.  It’s humbling and very inspiring.  And, it makes me love her greatly!

I remember another living saint who once told me, “Don’t be turned off by the hypocrites.  A church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”  So, when I read Pope Francis’ extension of that analogy, I really could relate:

…the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds….

Apparently, there were commentators who wanted to “clarify” what the Pope meant when he said “Who am I to judge?” when it came to homosexuals.  Those commentators wanted to think the Pope meant only priests who were gay.  In the interview, it was clear his sentiments applied to all homosexuals:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’  We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.

I like this focus on the person and on relationships.  We don’t learn truths from books, we learn them through encounters with people.  We may intellectually understand a truth as it is presented in a book, but we don’t really learn it until we live it in the context of relationships (i.e., redemptive suffering via marriage; the inner life of the Trinity via parenthood; virtue of humility via friendships, etc.)

Pope Francis said so much more that his interview is worth reading, again.  I think his words have already begun a change in me, something I know I should eventually do when the time is right.

Pope takes classic Renault for spin, leaves security in the dust

This is a beautiful little story of Pope Francis and his love for his pastors and sheep.

CNS Blog

UPDATE:Photos of the pope’s “new” car

VATICAN CITY — When an Italian priest handed Pope Francis the keys to his classic 30hp Renault 4, the pope got behind the wheel and took off, leaving security squirming behind, knowing full well this would be just the beginning of a pope truly on the move. Even though he shouldn’t be able to reach Ferrari-like speeds with a 300cc engine, it might be tough keeping up when he hits the hills.

“The security personnel next to me were very concerned because they understood that from now on he would be tooling around the Vatican in my car,” the car donor, 69-year-old Father Renzo Zocca, told the Italian Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana. But the priest told the police, not to worry, “I left some snow chains in the trunk. You never know!”

The new addition to the papal fleet — a silver-white…

View original post 663 more words

My Highlights and Notes from Lumen Fidei (Part 3 of 3)


I have a lot of highlights and notes from Lumen Fidei.  Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.  As before, my own remarks are [in bold & italics].

Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in his love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good.  … it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope.  (LF 51)  [Pope Francis then goes on to highlight Heb 11:33 and 1 Sam 12:3-5; 2 Sam 8:15.  Specifically, how faith helped the rulers be just and provide wisdom that brings peace to the people governed.]

As salvation history progresses, it becomes evident that God wants to make everyone share as brothers and sisters in that one blessing, which attains its fullness in Jesus, so that all may be one….  Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters….  Thanks to faith we have come to understand the unique dignity of each person, something which was not clearly seen in antiquity….  At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (LF 54)

Here is the concluding prayer for Lumen Fidei:

Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith.

Mother, help our faith!

Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.

Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.

Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.

Remind us that those who believe are never alone.

Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path.  And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

My Highlights and Notes from Lumen Fidei (Part 2)

I’d like to continue my notes from reading Lumen Fidei.  There are so many good nuggets of wisdom.  This is Part 2; I posted my first set yesterday.  My goal is to jot them down here and then review them more in depth in the future.  Again, as with the first, my notes are in [bold & italics]:

This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely.  (LF 16)

Had the Father’s love not caused Jesus to rise from the dead, had it not been able to restore his body to life, then it would not be a completely reliable love, capable of illuminating also the gloom of death.  (LF 17)  [If it wasn’t for Christ’s horrible death and glorious resurrection, His saving message wouldn’t have lasted so long.  His self-sacrifice is so compelling.]

Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing.  (LF 18)  [It is so weird to think that when we are in communion with Christ, that we are His eyes and ears.  We are His hands and feet.]

We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court.  We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned.  (LF 18)  [This is why we ultimately need the Magisterium to help interpret Scripture and define core doctrine.  It’s easy for Christ’s sheep, out of misguided sense of justice to redefine right/wrong to fit with the times.]

To enable us to know, accept and follow him, the Son of God took on our flesh.  In this way he also saw the Father humanly, within the setting of a journey unfolding in time.  Christian faith is faith in the incarnation of the Word and his bodily resurrection; it is faith in a God who is so close to us that he entered our human history.  Far from divorcing us from reality, our faith in the Son of God made man in Jesus of Nazareth enables us to grasp reality’s deepest meaning and to see how much God loves this world and is constantly guiding it towards himself.  This leads us, as Christians, to live our lives in this world with ever greater commitment and intensity.  (LF 18)

In accepting the gift of faith, believers become a new creation; they receive a new being; as God’s children, they are now “sons in the Son”.  The phrase “Abba, Father”, so characteristic of Jesus’ own experience, now becomes the core of the Christian experience (cf. Rom 8:15).  (LF 19)

Paul rejects the attitude of those who would consider themselves justified before God on the basis of their own works.  (LF 19)

The beginning of salvation is openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being.  (LF 19)

The image of a body does not imply that the believer is simply one part of an anonymous whole, a mere cog in the great machine; rather it brings out the vital union of Christ with believers, and of believers among themselves (cf. Rom 12:4-5).  Christians are “one” (cf. Gal 3:28), yet in a way which does not make them lose their individuality; in service to others, they come into their own in the highest degree.  (LF 22)

Faith is necessarily ecclesial; it is professed from within the body of Christ as a concrete communion of believers.  (LF 22)

In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable….  Yet, at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others in an effort to serve the common good.  But Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion.  (LF 25)  [Again, a great summary of our current spiritual condition.]

[Paragraphs 26-28 talks about how faith can lead to knowledge about truth and love.  Popes Francis and Benedict compare faith-knowledge to the limits of scientific knowledge.]

Faith-knowledge sheds light not only on the destiny of one particular people, but the entire history of the created world, from its origins to its consummation.  (LF 28)

By his taking flesh and coming among us, Jesus has touched us, and through the sacraments he continues to touch us even today… (LF 31)

One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us.  (LF 34)

The gaze of science thus benefits from faith:  faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness.  (LF 34)

Anyone who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God… (LF 35)

Faith is passed on, we might say, by contact, from one person to another, just as one candle is lighted from another.  (LF 37)

It is through an unbroken chain of witnesses that we come to see the face of Jesus.  (LF 38)

We come from others, we belong to others, and our lives are enlarged by our encounter with others.  Even our own knowledge and self-awareness are relational; they are linked to others who have gone before us: in the first place, our parents, who gave us our life and our name.  Language itself, the words by which we make sense of our lives and the world around us, comes to us from others, preserved in the living memory of others.  Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory.  The same thing holds true for faith, which brings human understanding to its fullness.  Faith’s past, that act of Jesus’ love which brought new life to the world, comes down to us through the memory of others — witnesses — and is kept alive in that one remembering subject which is the Church.  The Church is a Mother who teaches us to speak the language of faith.  (LF 38)

It is impossible to believe on our own.  (LF 39)

The Church, like every family, passes on to her children the whole store of her memories….  The sacraments communicate an incarnate memory, linked to the times and places of our lives, linked to all our senses; in them the whole person is engaged as a member of a living subject and part of a network of communitarian relationships.  (LF 40)

The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith:  an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of his love, the life-giving gift of himself.  In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions.  (LF 44)  [The two dimensions being “history” and the “supernatural.”]

… the four elements which comprise the storehouse of memory which the Church hands down: the profession of faith, the celebration of the sacraments, the path of the ten commandments, and prayer.  (LF 46)

Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity.  Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole… hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (cf. 1 Tim 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized.  (LF 48)  [Another reason for the Magisterium (cf. Acts 20:27).]

My Highlights and Notes from Lumen Fidei (Part 1)

I finished reading Lumen Fidei a couple days ago and I really enjoyed it.  Pope Francis’ and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s encyclical was a well-articulated diagnosis of the state of faith in the world, today.  Maybe at some point I will write more about it, but for now I will just put down my highlights and notes (in bold & italics) as I read through the 80-page encyclical:

Lumen Fidei and Pope Francis
Lumen Fidei and Pope Francis

… humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights… (LF 3)

The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.  A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. (LF 4)

… [a dialogue between] the Roman prefect Rusticus and a Christian named Hierax: “‘Where are your parents?’, the judge asked the martyr.  He replied: ‘Our true father is Christ, and our mother is faith in him'”.  (LF 5)

The Church never takes faith for granted, but knows that this gift of God needs to be nourished and reinforced so that it can continue to guide her pilgrim way.  (LF 6) [My note: That is why the Sacraments are needed.]

Faith is linked to hearing. (LF 8)

God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him. (LF 8) [My note: if God is the God of a person, then faith needs to be transmitted by persons.]

Faith understands that something so apparently ephemeral and fleeting as a word, when spoken by the God who is fidelity, becomes absolutely certain and unshakable, guaranteeing the continuity of our journey through history.  (LF 10)  [My note: I can trust in God’s word.]

God ties his promise to that aspect of human life which has always appeared most “full of promise”, namely, parenthood…  (LF 11)

… his [Abraham’s] life is not the product of non-being or chance, but the fruit of a personal call and a personal love.  (LF 11)  [My note: This is true of our lives as well.]

Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey.  (LF 12)

God’s love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way (cf. Dt 1:31).  (LF 12)

… the light of faith is linked to concrete life-stories, to the grateful remembrance of God’s mighty deeds and the progressive fulfilment of his promises.  (LF 12)  [My note: Much like God fulfilling the prayers in my life (i.e. marriage, first child, an international career, etc.)]

The history of Israel also shows us the temptation of unbelief to which the people yielded more than once.  (LF 13)  [My note: we can learn from our elder brothers in the faith.]

In place of faith in God, it seems better to worship an idol, into whose face we can look directly and whose origin we know, because it is the work of our own hands.  (LF 13)

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands.  Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants.  (LF 13)  [My note: all of paragraph 13 is a beautiful diagnosis of our spiritual condition.]

Here mediation is not an obstacle, but an opening: through our encounter with others, our gaze rises to a truth greater than ourselves.  (LF 14)  [My note: this is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so powerful.]

On the basis of an individualistic and narrow conception of conscience one cannot appreciate the significance of mediation, this capacity to participate in the vision of another, this shared knowledge which is the knowledge proper to love.  (LF 14)

… the patriarchs were saved by faith, not faith in Chris who had come but in Christ who was yet to come, a faith pressing towards the future of Jesus.  (LF 15)

The history of Jesus is the complete manifestation of God’s reliability.  (LF 15)

The word which God speaks to us in Jesus is not simply one word among many, but his eternal Word (cf Heb 1:1-2).  (LF 15)  [My note: what God wants to tell us is so complicated, so difficult for us to hear, that he gave us a whole person as the message — Jesus is not the messenger, he IS the message.]

If laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest proof of love (cf. Jn 15:13), Jesus offered his own life for all, even for his enemies, to transform their hearts.  (LF 16)

Atheists are Redeemed Also

The Huffington Post published an article that was eye-catching: “Pope Francis says atheists who do good are redeemed, not just Catholics.”

My gut reaction was “All right!  Cool!”  The charity and love in that statement was very appealing to me.  I assumed that since it was the Pope who said it, then it must be theologically sound.  Then a Protestant friend of mine challenged me, “Where is that based in Scripture?”  So, that got me thinking.

Cartoon of Jesus in lieu of the ghost in the
Courtesy of “The Examiner”

I’m not really good with remembering Scripture, so I have Matt Fradd to thank for his article about Pope Francis’ homily.  God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4) and “is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).  The Gospel of Matthew needs a bit of commentary for the following verse “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).  According to the commentary, “‘many’ does not mean that some are excluded, but is a Semitism designating the collectivity who benefit from the service of the one, and is equivalent to ‘all.'”

Romans 5:18 was also instructive: “just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.”  Paul did not write “justification and life for Christians,” but “for all.”  He means everyone: the soldiers who nailed Christ to the Cross, the Pharisees who mocked him, and even the atheists of today.

While my Protestant friend would not accept the Catechism as an authoritative source, its interpretation of Scripture is something even Catholics who felt scandalized by what the Pope said cannot ignore (CCC 605):

At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt 18:14).  He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us (Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19).  The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer” (Council of Quiercy in 853 A.D.; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; 1 Jn 2:2). [Emphasis mine.]

Continue reading Atheists are Redeemed Also