The weird and secretive pas de deux between
Pope Francis and Eugenio Scalfari continues.
In his October 11th General Audience message, Pope Francis said this:
If we remain united with Jesus, the cold of difficult moments does not paralyze us; and even if the whole world preached against hope, if it said that the future would bring only dark clouds, a Christian knows that in that same future there will be Christ's return. No one knows when this will take place, but the thought that at the end of our history there will be Merciful Jesus suffices in order to have faith and not curse life. [Emphasis added.]
The message was one of the Christian's vigilant labor with hope for the future. In its entirety, it is not particularly remarkable.
The excitement has been on account of the next two sentences: "Everything will be saved. Everything."
Scalfari: Pope Says "Last Things" is Bunk
The table had been set two days earlier by self-appointed spokesman for Pope Francis, la Repubblica's Eugenio Scalfari. Scalfari's dubious journalistic practices include not recording or taking notes during his chats with the Pope.
You may recall Pope Francis initiated a public dialogue with the atheistic journalist in his "Letter to an Unbeliever" of September 4, 2013. Since then, Scalfari has scandalized Catholics with reports of the Pope's purported shocking departures from Catholic teachings. It's uncertain whether Scalfari is accurately reporting the views of Pope Francis. The Bear finds reasons to question his credibility.
However, the Pope has never called him out for making things up and has continued his private dialogue. That does not necessarily mean he endorses them, however. It is just as likely Francis would weirdly see a public challenge as some sort of breach of trust and "proselytizing."
"Everything will be saved. Everything."
That followed on the heels of Scalfari's October 9th bombshell.
According to Scalfari, the Pope confided to him that the universal Last Judgment, Purgatory and Hell were bunk. Bad souls were simply annihilated and good souls enjoyed the presence of God.
So, some quarters are up in arms about all this. The Bear thinks it is more the perfect example of the Pope's exasperating lack of good judgment coupled with conditioned mistrust on the part of the faithful.
The Bear seriously doubts the Pope would choose Scalfari to change Church teachings on the Last Things. (He also realizes that most of his readers have long since given up on Francis and will believe the opposite.) However, the Bear has no doubts at all about the Pope's unfortunate combination of compulsive talking and difficulty making sense in the broader context of the faith whose guardian and teacher he is supposed to be.
It is easy to imagine Pope Francis framing a discussion in terms Scalfari could understand as he reported. Perhaps Francis was too busy "accompanying" his pet atheist to risk offending him with actual Church teachings. We shall never know the truth, because, maddeningly, Francis does not do the necessary thing of confirming or denying anything.
Context, Context, and Yet More Context
The Bear thinks Catholics do not help the current crisis by taking the "everything" one-liner out of context. The entire message is an unremarkable address to persons united with Christ. "Everything" must be understood in this context, although even in context it is not the clearest statement. But it should not seized upon as teaching universal salvation. That is just not sound interpretation and the Bear is a bit surprised to find himself sort of on the other side of Sandro Magister on this, although the latter agrees Pope Francis probably isn't really getting rid of the Last Things.
(It's not just Pope Francis who engages in creative proof-texting, however. 1 Timothy 2:4 has not been quoted in full by the Church since 1967. (God) "who would have all men to be saved" full stop. The rest of the verse is the rather unfashionable "and come to the knowledge of the truth." After all, what is truth?)
So, the Bear invites your attention to the context of that one address. And, he acknowledges the much bigger context of the post-Vatican II world.
Since Vatican II, the Church has never been clear on salvation. Unless the Bear has never interpreted a document in his life, Lumen Gentium is "confused," and that is charitable. Everybody has a good chance of going to Heaven, you see. But, here, at the end of paragraph 16, we'll make Cardinal Ottaviani's crazies happy by saying, "but, you never know, and that's why it's so important that the Church keep sending out all those missionaries."
And lo, never was another missionary seen thereafter. In classic doublespeak, "New Evangelization" means "No Evangelization" and the Church holds "proselytization" in greater horror than the sins of Sodom. The Bear has said in two short paragraphs what it took Dr. Ralph Martin a very good book, "Will Many Be Saved?" to say.
But, as with so much else, it is usually less that the Church has changed teachings as having just thrown them into the air. So "Christ the Judge" of Scripture and Church dogma has been replaced by "Merciful Jesus"of Pope Francis' address. Can a Pope choose to emphasis one truth if he feels it has been overshadowed by another one? Sure. The Bear is pretty sure popes get to do that. In light of everything else is there a clear danger of scandal and confusion if done clumsily?
The third context is the weakness of this particular Pope in that hardly a month goes by that he doesn't say something weird and confusing.
So, yes, when you see "everything" in an out-of-context quote somewhere, it is easy to believe the worst. (That is why the Bear quoted it in context and linked to the text so you can judge for yourself.)
This Pontificate in a Nutshell
So, here we have this pontificate in a nutshell. Pope Francis, whatever his intentions and beliefs, has scandalized the faithful and the faithful are so conditioned to scandal they will find it even where it does not exist. Without reaching the question of his orthodoxy, the Bear declares this pontificate a catastrophe due to a lack of judgment on the part of Francis so profound the Bear sometimes questions his fitness.
That is the least uncomfortable explanation for his weirdly obsessive and secretive pas de deux with Scalfari. We won't see the Last Tango in Rome between these two until one of them discovers first-hand the truth about the Last Things.