Sunday, November 20, 2016


The Holy Year of Mercy was mercifully brought to a conclusion at a splendid Mass in St. Peter's Square this morning. Oh how I remember with fondness the reverence of papal Masses in the square with so many in attendance. I say this in all sincerity.

Below I publish the full homily of Pope Francis this morning.It is a splendid homily and in one way explains his silence at being challenged by the four cardinals, but this is implied not explicit and based upon Jesus actions which Pope Francis must be imitating in this regard.

 But there is one paragraph that I have some questions about so I will isolate it and ask some questions for comment:

 As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.

My comments/questions: If Jesus does not record evil or keep score of injustices, then just what is the point of purgatory for forgiven sinners (unforgiven sinners presumably still go to hell)?  In addition to purifying us and making us perfect in holiness as God is, doesn't purgatory also have a "punishment" aspect based upon the need for God's justice which cannot be separated from His mercy?  Forgiven sin continues to harm the church and our victims even if they have forgiven us.

And if there is no justice required of forgiven sin, then what is the point of indulgences which were very much a part of walking through the Holy Doors in Rome and elsewhere. Indulgences remit the punishment due to a particular forgiven sin and can release those in purgatory to enter the fullness of heaven.

So is Pope Francis in an ecumenical way doing away with the dogma of purgatory as it regards God's justice, an essential element of His mercy and by way of extension, the need for the gift of indulgences? This would take away a stumbling block with our Protestant brothers and sisters. I wonder. What about you?

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
20 November 2016

20 November 2016

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy. The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of his saving work, and it does so in a surprising way. “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: he is on the cross, where he seems more to be conquered than conqueror. His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver.

Jesus’ reign is truly not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (cf. Col 1:13-14). For the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. Christ lowered himself to us out of this love, he lived our human misery, he suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; he experienced death, the tomb, hell. And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being. He did not condemn us, nor did he conquer us, and he never disregarded our freedom, but he paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:7). This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8). We joyfully share the splendour of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.

It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King. The people presented to us in today’s Gospel, however, help us. In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.

First, the people: the Gospel says that “the people stood by, watching” (Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer. The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening. They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance. Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us. We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with him. A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”

There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal. They all mock Jesus. They provoke him in the same way: “Save yourself!” (Lk 23:35,37,39). This temptation is worse than that of the people. They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies! If he is God, let him show his power and superiority! This temptation is a direct attack on love: “save yourself” (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself. Claim triumph for yourself with your power, with your glory, with your victory. It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel. When confronted with this attack on his very way of being, Jesus does not speak, he does not react. He does not defend himself, he does not try to convince them, he does not mount a defense of his kingship. He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.

In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him. How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world. How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works. This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission. Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.

In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom. He was not closed in on himself, but rather – with his errors, his sins and his troubles – he turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.

Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory. Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope. As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others. Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.

So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamour of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord. We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy. Let us go forward on this road together. May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle. Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus’ disciple as her son. She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to his merciful eyes, will find an answer.


Rood Screen said...

Hmm. In this case, I really don't find his statement confusing. That a forgiven soul is in need of purification after death should be obvious enough, without requiring third party recollection.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"If Jesus does not record evil or keep score of injustices, then just what is the point of purgatory for forgiven sinners (unforgiven sinners presumably still go to hell)?"

Purgatory is not the result of Jesus' keeping score. It is the result of our own sinful acts. The point of Purgatory is to remove any stain of sin, which results from our actions, before we enter heaven.

Therefore, if Jesus has no scorecard with little black marks against our names, it has no effect on the need for or the doctrine regarding Purgatory whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid header to this post. Good job contributing to the confusion.

Reality check pope not even the humblest pope everrrr can "do away" with or change defined dogma. Even if Francis publicly said Purgatory doesn't exist, it wouldn't change the teaching of the Church and Francis would be declaring himself a heretic and antipope.

Keep up the good work Father. I know all the confusion and erroneous teachings of Francis are amusing to you. But not so much for the faithful few who actually believe that the pope is not an oracle of God, not this pope or any pope. I know you believe if a pope teaches error that it somehow makes it right, but you sound like a coloring book Catholic convert from Protestantism when you promote those beliefs. Francis can't make up his own version of truth. But you will be judged for it when you die and will get the reward you deserve,

Rood Screen said...

I am pleased to agree unreservedly with Father Kavanaugh on this point.

Victor said...

The Holy Father had already alluded to the incompatibility of God's mercy and of purgatory when he said in a recent interview: "I like to think that the Almighty has a bad memory. Once he forgives, he forgets. Because it is blessed to forgive. For me, that’s enough."

Anonymous said...

When a priest shows such a lack of understanding of basic theology and basic theological reasoning . . . Good Grief!

George said...

I agree with the above comments.
If we repent of our transgressions, and have the sincere intention of amending our lives, and we then have our our sins are forgiven in Confession, why should God have need to remember them? Unforgiven sins are the ones not forgotten, indeed we ourselves can still recall even our forgiven sins."For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me." The grace is available to us as a gift from God to remember the sins we need to confess, and to consider and meditate on the wrongs we have done as a means to put us and keep us on the path whose endpoint is our Eternal salvation. Purgatory exists for a reason and the purpose it serves has not gone away. This is because,lacking the necessary indulgence or requisite satisfaction, the debt of sin remains even after the sin is forgiven.

George said...

When I said in my comment that I was agreeing with the above comments, I was referring to the ones entered by Dialogue and Father Kavanaugh.

Anonymous 2 said...

A wonderful and inspiring homily from Pope Francis and an excellent succinct explanation of Purgatory from Father Kavanaugh. A thread doesn’t get much better than this!

qwikness said...

He said the same thing in his famous "who am I to judge" answer on the plane.

saying, "But if a person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has converted, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is important for our life. When we go to confession and truly say: “I have sinned in this,” the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk that the Lord won’t forget our [sins]. That’s a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. I think so many times of Saint Peter: he committed one of the worst sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope. We must give it much thought."

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Worried Folks: God does not operate in time, nor does God have a memory.

Time is our issue and it has no impact on God, on what God does, or on what God remembers or forgets.

To say, "God forgets" is an anthropomorphism. We are speaking of God in human terms, as if God needed to start taking Ginkgo tablets to improve his mental acuity.

When we speak of remembering and forgetting, we are speaking of a HUMAN operation that takes place in TIME.

YESTERDAY I could remember the names of the elements of the periodic table in order, but TODAY I have forgotten three of them. Maybe I will remember those three names LATER today or TOMORROW.

Please stop fretting over this non-issue.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I think I'm pretty clear on Catholic Theology and what is expected of me as a lay person. I think I understand what I must do to have my sins forgiven, and that I trust God will deal with me justly regarding these. Much of what ultimately happens to my soul is contingent on me: my behavior and my attitude, and I cannot buffalo God. And I do believe I will have a particular judgement at the end of my life, and I have a feeling not one thing, good or bad, is going to be "forgotten." Not one thing. I'm pretty sure Jesus was clear on that.

That being said, I pretty much just ignore the likes of Pope Francis and priests who speak this way. They confuse. Perhaps they understand what they mean, and ultimately it is no different than the Catholic dogma and doctrine I know, but because they emphasize one aspect or another, or use inaccurate somewhat "loaded" sound bites such as "God forgets..." I just tune it out.

Those of us who don't do ministry or pastoring for a living typically just listen to the bottom line, the deep study of what is being said taking too much time we just don't have. We rely on priests and bishops and cardinals and Popes to distill it for us. But if the bottom line is not accurate at best, and misleading at worst (How about that "God is love" and "God loves you as you are..." claptrap of the 1970's that opened the gates of hell to countless young people of that era?) then I just tune it out, and count the "preacher" as someone working for the enemy of souls...whether he thinks he is or not (Pope or not).

I believe in Jesus Christ and His Church in order to save my soul. It's deadly serious stuff to me. If Popes and priests want to use it as entertainment, or a livelihood, or to further some kind of political agenda, let them. However, once I've decided they are false teachers, they have no weight with me (Pope or not). But I am sorry for those they mislead, even as they keep themselves technically out of error.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

No pope, bishop, or priest can reasonably be expected to take into account the possible reaction to his words by the people who hear or read them.

Especially today, with its rampant chronic dissatisfaction, someone, somewhere is, for one reason or another, going to misunderstand what is being said or written.

The lack of clarity, I suggest, is not always with the speaker or writer. If people don't hear or read what they WANT to hear or read, they react by saying, "Not Clear!" of "Not Traditional!" or "Not Something...!"

The "bottom line" of the Holy Father's comments on God forgetting our sins is that God is merciful. If that is unsatisfactory, then the hearer, not the speaker, needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said.....The "bottom line" of the Holy Father's comments on God forgetting our sins is that God is merciful. If that is unsatisfactory, then the hearer, not the speaker, needs to change."

And again I say, "But I am sorry for those they mislead, even as they keep themselves technically out of error."

Good luck to you, Fr. Kavanaugh.

Gene said...

"God is merciful" doesn't really say anything theologically. All denominations and many pagan religions say the same thing. Sort of like, "God is love." My immediate reaction is "big deal."

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It does not follow that since,"All denominations and many pagan religions say the same thing" that "God is merciful" is, thetefore, theologically meaningless.

As we know from Church doctrine, the great religions of the world all share, in varying degrees, in God's revealed Truth. If the Catholic Church teaches that God is merciful, and we do, then if other religions share this understanding, it means that we all have, by God's grace, come to understand an aspect of the Godhead.

Bee, I do not need luck. I can expect God's mercy, since we know without doubt that God is merciful. Because I am a sinner, the fact that God is merciful and that as a result He sent his son to die for me, is, indeed, a Big Deal.

Anonymous said...

All from the CCC regarding God who is merciful:

1847 "God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us." To receive his MERCY, we must admit our faults. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

2840 Now - and this is daunting - this outpouring of MERCY cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father's merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance"

1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and MERCY; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.

211 The divine name, "I Am" or "He Is", expresses God's faithfulness: despite the faithlessness of men's sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps "steadfast love for thousands". By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is "rich in MERCY". By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that "I AM"."

And then there is Saint Pope John Paul II's DIVES IN MISERICORDIA

Seems mercy is a pretty "big deal" for the Church...

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Oh, I see Father "I-must-always-have-the-last-word" Kavanaugh has spoken! "Bee, I do not need luck. I can expect God's mercy, since we know without doubt that God is merciful. Because I am a sinner, the fact that God is merciful and that as a result He sent his son to die for me, is, indeed, a Big Deal."

Father, I think you are responding to something I did not say. But who cares? You're one of those who loves to argue and debate, and thinks that when you say something, it is definitive.

Who is arguing that God is not merciful? No one yet I have seen.

What I am arguing is that saying "God forgets..." without a lot of explanation of what that looks like in Catholic thought or what that might mean, leaves out a lot of Catholic doctrine about God's justice. God is always just. That is the part of the calculus the likes of Pope Francis is leaving out.

I have heard it said that on this side of the veil is mercy. And on the other side, justice. Interesting thought to ponder, no? If this is true, then it would behoove all of us to discover our sins, repent of them, and seek mercy now, while there is time, for God's justice once we die is fierce.

Here's why I wished you good luck, Father. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

I doubt God will be amused or confused by your sophistries. And since I doubt you will repent of them, I don't see how you will receive mercy for them. So I would guess God will judge you justly for them. And that is why I wished you good luck!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Bee - I do not believe my words are definitive and am always open to correction.

Anything any Pope says can lead to confusion and no amount of explanation by said pope will avert that. When people are inclined to find "confusion" in a pope's statements, as many here are with Pope Francis, he could write explanations reaching into the tens of thousands of pages and people would still choose to say they are confused.

I'm not concerned about amusing God since, as with the notion of God forgetting, "amusing God" is yet another anthropomorphism, not an actual description of God's reaction to our behavior.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

See what I mean? Father "I-must-always-have-the-last-word" Kavanaugh has spoken!

So be it, Father. Just one more response to me and you will have your way.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you.