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As Pope Francis begins his "year of mercy", symbolically opening the doors in Rome today and with rhetoric filled with his usual Yoda-like word construction, I was thinking about what this blog has written about for weeks. My views are suitably cautious about Pope Francis, though I believe the bishops need to be held to a high standard. That is why I have called for Pope Francis to publicly address the problematic positions of Archbishop Cupich. Unfortunately, Guardian is not someone who's opinion matters to those in the Vatican.
With all this talk about God's mercy, I want to discuss one specific perspective on what Francis declares as "mercy".
I think back to the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and to the scene where Jones as well as two Nazi sympathizers have reached where the Grail Knight has guarded the Holy Grail and one of those Nazis seeks to pick the true Grail. The Grail Knight clarifies the test:
You must choose. But choose wisely. For as the true Grail will give life, the false Grail will take it from you.
In a movie produced by a methodist and directed by a Jew, you have in dialogue a greater understanding of God's Mercy than anything introduced by Pope Francis and his bishops. In this line of dialogue from the Grail Knight, you have the traditional, standard understanding of God's Mercy.
You must choose. But choose wisely.
God gave us free will. He cannot, by His own rules, have His mercy thrust upon us. Just like absolution does not come to us without our action. We have to ask for absolution for our sins - it does not come from from our mere existence. We have to choose to approach Him and to know the Truth. That is the requirement that comes with free will. But unfortunately, how many Catholics or even people in general don't have a proper formation about free will? How often does our Church emphasize those responsibilities that come with God's gift of free will? How important is a proper understanding of free will to a proper formation of Catholic identity and belief?
For as the true Grail will give life, the false Grail will take it from you.
Aye, there's the rub.
Here, in this line (and seen in action a minute later in the movie) is the real ramifications of a false understanding of God's Mercy, along with a false understanding of the Real Presence in the Eucharist and a false understanding of the nature of Christ. A false belief will lead to your eternal condemnation. This is a spiritual law that is throughout the New Testament as well as in Church tradition and teaching. It is not cruel to state what God's rules are for the universe so that all may know and understand them. We proclaim these truths not to condemn, but to save from condemnation. But instead we are told by the Vatican and the Catholic media that we are showing the coldness of our hearts.
However, given the facts above, what exactly is Pope Francis doing with this year of mercy, at least spiritually?
I fear that what you must conclude is that Francis is actively assisting in the condemnation of millions of souls to, at best, a dubious eternal status. Though we, as mortals, don't want to presume God's will and actions, what we know to be true of God leads us to at least entertain this statement.
A false understanding of God puts your soul at risk, which is why heresy was so dramatically fought for millennia in the Church.
False belief has eternal consequences.