Monday, August 24, 2015

Pope Francis Misleads on Real Presence Again

The Gospel for this past Sunday might not be the ideal part of the Bread of Life Discourse to explain the signature Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence, the Bear thought. In fairness to Pope Francis, the Bear looked at the angelus message from the previous Sunday. After all, that reading, John 6:51-58, presents us squarely with eating Jesus' flesh and blood. Surely, the Pope would have to make a clear statement about what the Church teaches, and what is one of the main beliefs that separates Catholics from Protestants.

Not surprisingly, however, the Pope did nothing of the sort. Although he did mention "eating," and "assimilating," it was briefly, and in this context. "'Those who feed on Him and abide in Him through Holy Communion and faith,' he added, 'will see their lives transformed as a gift to God and to others.'"

Pope Francis insisted then, as he did during his most recent angelus message, that the "bread" relates not to the Eucharist, but to Jesus' death on the cross.

But Pope Francis explained that, “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the "sign" of the sacrifice that awaits him.” 

Interestingly, here is how a footnote from a popular Protestant study Bible, the English Standard Version, deals with v. 6:51. ("I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.") Since there is strong risk of confusion, what immediately follows is the Protestant explanation.

6:51 living bread. The "bread" Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus' death on the cross). Jesus' statement intermingles physical and spiritual truth. Jesus is not talking about literal "bread," but he is the true "living bread" in the sense that those who believe in him have their spiritual hunger satisfied. He becomes this spiritually satisfying "bread" by sacrificing his own physical body in his death on the cross, and in that sense he can say that this spiritual bread is my flesh.

Note the same misdirection by Pope Francis and the Protestant study Bible. Both identify Jesus' "bread" as his flesh on the cross.

  • Pope Francis: “knowing he will have to die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies himself with the bread broken and shared, and it becomes for him the "sign" of the sacrifice that awaits him.” 
  • Protestant study Bible note: "The "bread" Jesus gives is his flesh (a reference to Jesus' death on the cross).

So, once again, Pope Francis avoids Catholic content and preaches a bland message to which few Protestants could object. Why is it too much for Catholics to hope for the Pope to boldly preach Catholic teaching? Is this just another manifestation of Pope Francis' reported words to the divorced and remarried woman he phoned in Argentina in 2014? ("A little bread and wine does no harm.")

The Pope further diluted understanding of the Real Presence by making this Protestant-like closing statement. In it, "He who eats this bread" is a metaphor for "living in communion with Jesus on this earth."

In conclusion, the Pope recalled Jesus’ words, "He who eats this bread will live forever".  He then explained that by living  in communion with Jesus on this earth we can look forward to the voice of the Risen Lord who calls us when we finally close our eyes.

To get a sense for what Catholics formerly believed, read the notes on the Bread of Life Discourse by Rev. George Leo Haydock, which have accompanied many editions of the Douay Rheims Bible.

When you compare then and now, you can literally see the Real Presence receding toward the graveyard of forgotten dogmas, where extra ecclesiam nulla salus lies buried. Whatever separates must fade away. Nothing official, it just stops getting mentioned. "Pastoral" reasons are given for behaving inconsistently with it. Then one day people look at you like you're crazy when you say, "hey, did you know that the Church used to say the bread and wine were actually the body and blood of Christ?"

What does the Pope believe? He believes it would be nice if Catholics and Protestants resolved their differences. On the basis of charity and the duty of filial respect, the Bear must assume Pope Francis believes in the Real Presence. Remember, in the Gospel, Peter did not walk away from the teaching, and Jesus.

But as a lawyer, the Bear wouldn't have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict him, on the basis of his statements, of such a belief.


  1. It may simply be what he learned in Seminary and in the probably liberal Jesuit circles he moved in. Since he's not exactly an intellectual, he may not even quite understand what's at stake. Though, clearly these sorts of issues do not seem to interest him in any case. Of course as a defense, that's pretty lame. He is of course, the Pope.

    1. "He is of course, the Pope." Indeed. Whatever else you can say, you can't say he doesn't know about the dogma of the Real Presence. The only questions are how badly did he mangle the subject in what he did say, as in willfully and practically denying it and why doesn't he want to speak plainly about it? I'm not going to say he went so far as to deny it, but imagine you're out with your wife on your anniversary. You say, "This is a woman with whom I spend a quite a bit of time and who is kind enough to drive my children to band practice." You look across the room and say, "Now that's a woman with a figure! She's smart, too. I've heard her speak." Now, you haven't come out and denied your wife in so many words, but do you think she would be happy with you? Do you think people around you might be confused, and some of them, perhaps, even conclude that your wife is actually a babysitter or sister or domestic help? This is the way Pope Francis, the Oracle of Santa Marta is. Never a straight answer, sowing confusion, eroding the faith, pandering to everyone but the faithful. It is getting harder and harder to attribute it to a bumbling style of public speaking. He seems to speak directly and forcefully enough when it's important to him, like global warming or Marxism.

  2. I can easily imagine him thinking he's "finding common ground," and 'not being divisive" over something that is not essential to the faith, unlike global warming or economics. Why bother with Medieval nonsense when we can "walk" on "a journey" with Jesus?

  3. "A Little Bread and Wine Does No Harm..."


    To the Nuclear
    Plant I went
    With wafered host
    I was hell-bent.

    Exposed the wafered un-
    Consecrated host
    To radiation
    Now, nuked toast.

    Offered heretic
    "Taste and see."
    "Oh no!" He cried
    "That's not for me!"

    "But look, " I said,
    "Nothing’s changed...
    A still white wafered
    Host arranged."

    "Though looks the same,
    Could do much harm!"
    The heretic knew
    Exclaimed alarm.

    As Catholics know
    A spiritual radiation
    Daily at Mass

  4. Even before I saw your posts on this, I knew I needed to thank my priest for his good teaching on the Real Presence in his homily. I think it would be a sin NOT to give thanks and praise for good Catholic teaching. We need to encourage our priests and thank them. They think they are pleasing the population with mealy-mouthed God is love stuff. Thank your priest when he gets it right! You may find he's more right than you realize.

    1. That's amazing that a priest would preach like that today. We got to hear about a social justice activist at the Church of Christ who had died, and how wonderful it was we lived in a community that was ecumenical.

    2. Yes. My priest said the opposite of Francis. He said that Jesus didn't say it was a mere symbol. He didn't water it down to keep followers. He was firm. Now, that said, we need another homily on the proper interior disposition, state of grace, fasting, as well as physical posture (hands folded would be something around here). Sloppy hands hanging from sides is all too common. The kids weren't taught posture or the relation to confession or fasting at first communion. We had to teach our own kids these things--and to receive on the tongue.

    3. Our local priest also gave a very good talk on the Real Presence this past Sunday.

  5. If there is no Real presence, then what does it matter if you are in a state of Grace when you receive it?

  6. Thanks Bear for more evidence that Pope Francis is a Protestant in Catholic clothing.

    1. He's a big problem. The Church will do better next time having been vaccinated by Francis, it will be resistant at the next conclave.

  7. "Pope Francis insisted then, as he did during his most recent angelus message, that the "bread" relates not to the Eucharist, but to Jesus' death on the cross."

    Are not the two (the Eucharist and Jesus' death on the cross) intrinsically linked?

    1. Of course. But Catholics have never understood this in the Protestant sense of Jesus talking about his death on the cross, but, especially of the Real Presence, the literal consumption of the real flesh and blood of Jesus. This was the "hard saying" that caused people to walk away, not that Jesus was going to die, and "fail" as a Messiah. To speak the way Pope Francis speaks of the Bread of Life Discourse is to willfully confuse and obscure the Real Presence. Today, when we're talking about giving communion to practicing, unrepentant homosexuals, to people who have been divorced and remarried, when there are subtle ecumenical pressures to open communion to Protestants, it is theological malpractice to preach on the Bread of Life Discourse without making the Real Presence as clear as possible. As with most topics that don't really interest Pope Francis very much, the best you can say about his most recent statements on John 6 is that they are bland, incomplete and not particularly Catholic. And that's being generous.

  8. I see what you mean. This is so often the case with Pope Francis: we're left with confusion and his words are just bland and vague enough, allowing room for plausible deniability.

  9. Why? Because he is the false prophet. Do you think that bergoglio never learned the truth in the Church of his childhood and then in the seminary?

    1. One benefit that we cannot extend to the Pope is that he is ignorant of Church dogma, especially one so central and well-known. It is debatable whether his public statements constitute a denial of this particular dogma or merely an avoidance. The Bear would suggest that when faced with the opportunity to address the Real Presence, and given that less than half of U.S. Catholics know it and believe it, it is hard to find a legitimate reason to deliberately avoid doing so. Furthermore, what he did say was so weak and ambiguous as to be confusing. In other words, he may not have outright denied it, but in his unwillingness to teach it directly, he did so practically. Finally, it is too easy to find reasons for his discomfort with the dogma. It is at the heart of too many "problems" having to do with who does or does not get into the communion line. Divorce and remarriage, sodomy, ecumenism -- these are all issues that are complicated by the holy fear of sacrilege that surrounds the consecrated host, at least in the minds of believers. "A little bread and wine does no harm," is by far the easier line to take instead of a bunch of medieval hocus pocus.

    2. Outright denial of the dogma will happen, but not yet. Francis has to destroy belief by errors of omission and diabolical ambiguity for now, otherwise he would be too obvious. Once the one-world pagan church is created, then the outright denial will come.

  10. “Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church must not be thought of as a conversation with God. This would assume that God was present there locally and in a confined way.

    To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God.

    This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to church on the ground that one can visit God who is present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects."

    Joseph Ratzinger - AKA Pope Benedict XVI - Die Sakramentale Begrundung Christlicher Existenz 1966, Kyrios Publishing, Freising-Meitingen-Germany)

    1. Is this from his Vatican II peritus days? The Bear liked Pope Benedict -- after all, he has St. Corbinian's Bear on his coat of arms (but then again Cardinal Marx might). But behind his de minimus liturgical... we'll call them concessions, rather than reforms, was always the brain of a German theologian. His view of damnation wasn't far from Bishop Barron's. And, frankly, the Bear didn't like his Jesus books. They reminded him of the abominable notes to the USCCB Bible. The Bear's not going to judge him. But his opinion at that time (the Bear wonders if it changed later) was unfortunate.


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