"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

“On the pathway to God, the church has made mistakes”

07/ 3/2013

During the morning Mass at Santa Marta, the Pope spoke about the Gospel for the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle


Saint Thomas was “stubborn” but it was for all his stubbornness that he was the first to know and recognize in the risen Jesus the divinity and knew to call him by name “God”. On his feast day, the Pope Francesco wanted to remember how the apostle not content to merely see but wanted to actually touch with his own hands the wounds of the crucifixion, those same cuts that today the Christian must cherish and care for in the poor and the humble of our time.

According to tradition, Thomas travelled to Asia in the decades after Jesus’ mission and having arrived in India he founded the ancient Christian communities that Portuguese travelers discovered when they disembarked on the sub continents coast at the end of the fifteenth century. Perhaps because India is the multi-religious country par excellence, this morning at the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae there were the priests and the staff of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, chairman of the department.

Thomas, the pontiff said, as reported by Vatican Radio, was "stubborn" with his stubbornness he wanted to put his fingers in the wounds left by the crucifixion of Jesus, "But the Lord - said Pope Bergoglio – wanted a really stubborn person to make us understand something bigger. Thomas saw the Lord, and was invited to put his finger into the wound caused by the nails; to put his hand on his side and did not say: “It’s true: The Lord has risen!”. No! He went even further. He said: “God!”. The first disciple that confessed the divinity of Christ, after the resurrection. And he worshipped.

This is why Jesus wanted Thomas to wait a week more than the other disciples before meeting with him: "Taking his disbelief to bring him not to the affirmation of the Resurrection, but the affirmation of his divinity." Because the "way to meet Jesus-God - said the pope - is through his wounds. There is no another."

The doing of “charitable deeds” for the Pope remain the only path to God, even if “in the history of the Church there have been many mistakes along the way” on the one hand the error of those who have relied on meditation to "go higher” – “How many lose themselves along the way and never arrive”, said Francesco; on the other hand there are those who believe that to arrive to God one must be “humble, austere”, choosing the path of “penitence” and “fasting” only. They are the pelagians, who believe that with their strength they will get there”.

Thomas instead meets Jesus through his wounds, those who today meet him by doing “charitable deeds”: “Giving the body – to the body – and also to the soul, but to the body – he underlined – of his wounded brother because the he is hungry, he is thirsty, he is naked, humiliated, a slave, because he is imprison, or in hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to do acts of faith, for him, but through these wounds”, to meet and touch directly, not through a benevolent “foundation” .

Hence the conclusive invitation that revives a classic motif of Argentina's pontificate: to touch the living God you do not need to "do a refresher course" but to enter into the wounds of Jesus, and for this "just go out onto the street." "We call on St. Thomas - he concluded – to give us the grace to have the courage to enter into the wounds of Jesus with our tenderness and we will certainly have the grace to worship the living God.


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. Am I jumping to wrong conclusions by reading his words as basically implying that St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales, St. Francis of Assisi....... were all "mistaken"? Huh? What in the heck is he saying here?

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    Pope Francis seems to be talking about mistakes members of the Church, (most likely clergy) have made in the past. From the sale of indulgences, the Inquisition, sex abuse scandal, to perhaps the developing story of a cabal in the curia, he's reminding us only God and the pope when teaching doctrine are infallible.