Seeking Jesus outside Church? Pope Francis says: “Dangerous and harmful”

His Holiness Pope Francis said during his last Wednesday audience before the summer break that those who believe that they can have a relationship with Jesus outside the Church are on a harmful and dangerous path.

From AsiaNews, which has more text than most of the other reportage out there.  My emphases. My comments.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “We are not isolated and we are not Christians individually, each on his or her own”. Instead, we are all part of the Church, “a large family, where one is welcomed,” where “one learns to live as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus,” Pope Francis said. [That sounds nice and fluffy, right.]

Speaking in the last general audience before the July break, the Holy Father devoted his catechesis to the Church before a crowd of 35,000 in St Peter’s Square. Despite a few drops of rain, he walked extensively among the assembled faithful.

In his address, he warned against those who “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church.” [QUAERITUR: How is one in communion with the Church and how does one receive the mediation of the Church?]

In the Church, he noted, there is no “do it yourself”, no “free agents.”  [“But Holy Father! But Holy Father!,” some are shouting, “I’m spiritual but not religious!”] For him, “Our Christian identity is belonging! We are Christians because we belong to the Church. [How?  Is this the Catholic Church we are talking about?  I assume so, since this is the Pope of Rome talking.] It is like a surname. If the name is ‘I am a Christian’, the surname is ‘I belong to the Church’.” Such sense of belonging was born from the alliance between God and Abraham, to whom he donated a great people for his loyalty.

“God’s relationship to his people comes before all of us, it comes from that time,” and thus, “in this sense, our thoughts go first, with gratitude, to those who have gone before us and who welcomed us into the Church. No one becomes a Christian by himself! Is this clear? Nobody becomes a Christian by himself. Christians are not made in a lab. [Folksy, but incomprehensible.] Christians are part of a people that has come a long way. Christians belong to a people called the Church and the Church makes us Christians on the day of our Baptism. Of course, then comes the catechesis and so many [other] things. But no one, no one becomes a Christian by himself. ” [Tell that to christians who are less doctrinally formed, who have little to no catechism with which to catechize.]

[…]

“There is no ‘do it yourself’ in the Church, no ‘free agents’. How many times did Pope Benedict describe the Church as an ecclesial ‘us’! [Francis Reading Himself Through Benedict.] Sometimes one can hear people say, ‘I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I do not care for the Church . . . ‘How many times have we heard that? And that is no good. ” [Not good at all.]

Some “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church. Such temptations are dangerous and harmful. They are, in the words of the great Pope Paul VI, absurd dichotomies.”  [And I don’t think that Benedict or Paul were talking about some vague church out there.]

[…]

Read the rest there.

Remember, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.   Pope Francis, with talk like this, is following in his footsteps.

 

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope Francis and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Seeking Jesus outside Church? Pope Francis says: “Dangerous and harmful”

  1. Louis says:

    Wow. The local non denominational church wife attends and 2600members would go crazy over these comments. over half are former catholics. their slogan to know, love and serve.

    Power stuff

  2. ajf1984 says:

    For what it’s worth, I read the “Christians are not made in a lab” line to mean that no Christian is formed in isolation, in a sterile environment. Rather, we are formed by the integral link to the community of the Church, begun in Baptism and fostered through the sacramental life. Folksy, certainly…anyone out there a ‘test tube Christian’?

  3. Jim Dorchak says:

    Wait a min I thought the Popes Niece said that she was “spiritual” but not “religious”?
    here is link:http://www.christianpost.com/news/pope-francis-niece-says-shes-spiritual-not-religious-believes-uncle-will-renew-outdated-church-122055/
    How do we weigh this statement by Pope Francis?

  4. JesusFreak84 says:

    Cue the NSR hand-wringing in 5…4…3…2…1…

  5. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “Some “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church. Such temptations are dangerous and harmful. They are, in the words of the great Pope Paul VI, absurd dichotomies.””

    That mean ol’ Pope Francis. How can he rock my “me and Jesus” world, anyway? Who is he to judge?

    MSM

  6. jhayes says:

    Here is the full text of what Francis said. Unfortunately, it is available only in Italian. The English version is only a summary:

    HERE

    Here are some bits that relate to the Asia News article:

    1. Non siamo isolati e non siamo cristiani a titolo individuale, ognuno per conto proprio, no, la nostra identità cristiana è appartenenza! Siamo cristiani perché apparteniamo alla Chiesa. È come un cognome: se il nome è “sono cristiano”, il cognome è “appartengo alla Chiesa”. È molto bello notare come questa appartenenza venga espressa anche nel nome che Dio attribuisce a sé stesso. Rispondendo a Mosè, nell’episodio stupendo del “roveto ardente” (cfr Es 3,15), si definisce infatti come il Dio dei padri. Non dice: Io sono l’Onnipotente…, no: Io sono il Dio di Abramo, Dio di Isacco, Dio di Giacobbe. In questo modo Egli si manifesta come il Dio che ha stretto un’alleanza con i nostri padri e rimane sempre fedele al suo patto, e ci chiama ad entrare in questa relazione che ci precede. Questa relazione di Dio con il suo popolo ci precede tutti, viene da quel tempo.

    2…nessuno, nessuno diventa cristiano da sé. Se noi crediamo, se sappiamo pregare, se conosciamo il Signore e possiamo ascoltare la sua Parola, se lo sentiamo vicino e lo riconosciamo nei fratelli, è perché altri, prima di noi, hanno vissuto la fede e poi ce l’hanno trasmessa….

    3. Questo cammino lo possiamo vivere non soltanto grazie ad altre persone, ma insieme ad altre persone. Nella Chiesa non esiste il “fai da te”, non esistono “battitori liberi”. Quante volte Papa Benedetto ha descritto la Chiesa come un “noi” ecclesiale!…

  7. Sonshine135 says:

    I think what Papa Francis is getting at when he says, “Nobody becomes a Christian by himself. Christians are not made in a lab.” is that there is a greater faith Tradition that is a valuable part of only the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, he accurately points out that this faith Tradition reaches into the Old Testament as well.

    Sometimes sadly though, seeking Jesus inside the Church can be dangerous and harmful as well. Imagine someone in the LCWR performing your RCIA program. Yikes!

  8. kevinm says:

    Did Father Z really say:” the great Pope Paul VI”?

    Kevin

  9. Gregg the Obscure says:

    “Did Father Z really say: ‘the great Pope Paul VI’?”
    In a quotation. It was Pope Francis who first used that turn of phrase in this exchange, then Fr. Z quoted him, you subsequently quoted Fr. Z and finally I quoted you.

  10. marcelus says:

    have you taken a look at the Work “guide” so to speak for the October Synod?? is very intersting..

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20140626_instrumentum-laboris-familia_en.html

    Check out the same sex unions etc parts..

    Some interesting lines:

    De facto unions

    Cohabitation

    81. From every part of the world, the responses note an increasing number of couples who live together ad experimentum (“on an experimental basis”) in unions which have not been religiously or civilly recognized nor officially registered in any way. The terms “experiment” or “trial period” are really not appropriate, since, especially in Europe and America, they often refer to a permanent form of life. Sometimes marriage takes place after the birth of their first child and the wedding and baptism are celebrated together

    Living together ad experimentum often takes the form of de facto unions, which are not civilly or religiously recognized.

    A rather great number of people give no thought to their irregular situation. In these cases, no one requests access to Holy Communion nor the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. These persons often become aware of their irregular situation when they request the Sacraments of Christian Initiation for their children or if they are asked to be a godfather or godmother at the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation. At times, adults, who have a personal and conscious experience of the faith in the programme of catechesis or the catechumenate, become aware of the irregularity of their marital relationship

    Concerning Separated and Divorced Persons

    97. Various responses and observations want to see more attention given to separated and divorced persons who have not remarried but have remained faithful to their nuptial vows. Oftentimes, these people seem to have the added suffering of not being given proper care by the Church and thus overlooked. Such persons also have difficulties and a need for pastoral attention. Moreover, the responses emphasize the importance of a pastor’s due care in seeing whether a marriage annulment is possible so as not to introduce cases without proper discernment. In this process, many responses ask for a concerted effort towards reconciliation to see if the separated parties can be reunited. Some responses refer to the great Christian witness made by separated persons who, courageously accepting their situation of suffering and solitude, remain faithful to their marriage vows.

    Lots more

    check it out

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Jim Dorchak — Are you really suggesting that Pope Francis’ niece has to sign off on everything the Pope says, or it’s not valid? What is this, nepopetism? :)

  12. Cosmos says:

    It seems to me that the Pope believes in a communitarian ideal, directly in opposition with western individualism– like many well-educated, international elite. I don’t see this as an affirmation of the Church’s traditional understanding of Herself as the One True Church or the only means of salvation, so much as a rejection of ideas that have seeped into Christianity in general through Portestanism and Liberalism.

    The Church is the People of God, the Family, the Community in which we experience God together, partly through what is handed down to us. The Pope points out that we can’t say “its just me and God,” but I am not sure if that his criticism applies to, say, a Charismatic mega-Church of 10,000! Would he really reject the Protestant idea of unity of all believers? Wouldn’t he, instead, say that we are all part of the one Church (subsisting…)?

  13. jhayes says:

    Cosmos, in his introduction, Francis says that this is Part 2 of his catechesis on the Church and points out that God’s goal was to form up a people that would be a sign of the union between them and God and with each other.

    Nella prima catechesi sulla Chiesa, mercoledì scorso, siamo partiti dall’iniziativa di Dio che vuole formare un popolo che porti la sua benedizione a tutti i popoli della terra. Incomincia con Abramo e poi, con tanta pazienza – e Dio ne ha, ne ha tanta! -, prepara questo popolo nell’Antica Alleanza finché, in Gesù Cristo, lo costituisce come segno e strumento dell’unione degli uomini con Dio e tra di loro (cfr Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. Lumen gentium, 1). Oggi vogliamo soffermarci sull’importanza, per il cristiano, di appartenere a questo popolo. Parleremo sulla appartenenza

    when he refers to Vatican II and Lumen Gentium, I think he has in mind:

    This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.

    9. At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right.(85) God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness. He

  14. Bosco says:

    Not to be unduly cynical, but I remember an old adage that goes something like:

    “Even a broken clock displays the correct time twice a day.” Powerful stuff.

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    “These persons often become aware of their irregular situation when they request the Sacraments of Christian Initiation for their children or if they are asked to be a godfather or godmother at the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation.”

    ?????

    We live in the most educated world since the beginning of time (outside of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…) and even a five-year old can know that having sex outside of marriage is wrong. These people have to know something about the Church to even want to get their children baptized or confirmed. Not knowing that living together is sinful is, for the most part, a form of crass ignorance or rationalization on their parts. I am not that sympathetic. They can see the disdain for that kind of living arrangement in any film or tv show from before the 1980’s and it is almost impossible to believe that most people haven’t seen at least one of these during their tv watching.

    No. They most certainly do NOT become aware of their irregular living situation when they bring their baby in for baptism. They know long before that what the Church teaches. It is just that, up until then, they do not care.

    The Chicken

  16. jhayes says:

    I cut off the last two words of the sentence:

    Parleremo sulla appartenenza alla Chiesa.

  17. BLB Oregon says:

    If a family rarely goes to Mass after a child receives their First Holy Communion, such that the child has no exposure to the faith except very occasional bewildering visits into a Catholic church, it is hard to overstate how little of the faith a child will learn. My experience in answering honest questions from fellow Catholics leads me to say this: The ignorance within some pockets of the faithful is so profound as to beggar belief. I have known a baptized Catholic that have had to ask a parent what denomination they belonged to, because that is how rarely they went to church after a move to a new city when he was five or six (shortly before he would have made his First Holy Communion). I have had a Catholic ask me how it is that people say Jesus was Jewish, since it was the impression of this fellow that Jesus was Christian. It is no wonder that so many Catholics are as vulnerable as they are to believe anything sold to them as Catholic doctrine by anyone claiming to have the authority to teach it.

  18. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    ‘Some “think they can have a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside of the communion and the mediation of the Church.” ‘

    What does this, and does this not, have to do with Baptism? (E.g., cf. Lumen gentium, 15: “The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities.”)

  19. aviva meriam says:

    We live in a throw away culture.
    the FBI referred to the children caught in the web of child prostitution as throw away children….
    the support for euthanasia affirms that human life is not valued (as are the horrific numbers of children aborted)
    People really think the “rules” (regardless of the rule: take your pick) if inconvenient do not apply to them.
    Thank you Pope Frances for affirming that the rules of the church are not negotiable.
    I will continue to pray the Bishops enforce them.

  20. Pingback: Pope Francis: Seeking Jesus Outside of Church Bad - Big Plpt

  21. Cosmos says:

    jhayes,

    I think what you quoted is exactly what he has in mind. I think the Pope thinks all Christians are the Church, the fullness of the Church exists in the Catholic Church… etc., etc.

    However, I don’t think he is telling Protestants and Orthodox that the are going it alone if they are not in the RC Church. I think he is talking more to Christians who think faith is a private, rather than corporate affair. This is only incidentally a Catholic assertion, like belief in, say, the value of suffering.

    This is really one of those places where the hastily-drawn liberal/conservative line breaks down, because “cultural” conservatives import a lot of individualism from the last 200 years, whereas the progressives are very comfortable (probably way too comfortable) with collectivist talk as it is a foundation of socialism.

  22. Unwilling says:

    The ecclesiological and soteriological fact that Christians are branches of the Vine does not determine the concrete way of life that any individual Christian must live. Gregariousness is fine. But, salvation and sanctity are available to those who concretely follow a solitary way, either for substantial periods or to the end of earthly life — as witness the heremetic tradition: St Anthony and all the original monks of the Egyptian Desert, St Simeon Stylites in Syria, at Subiaco both St Benedict and St Francis… etc. Saint, Saint, Saint…

  23. jhayes says:

    Cosmos wrote “However, I don’t think he is telling Protestants and Orthodox that the are going it alone if they are not in the RC Church. I think he is talking more to Christians who think faith is a private, rather than corporate affair.”

    I agree

  24. robtbrown says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    No. They most certainly do NOT become aware of their irregular living situation when they bring their baby in for baptism. They know long before that what the Church teaches. It is just that, up until then, they do not care.

    IMHO, you’re assuming too much. It might be so that some are aware of what the Church teaches. Even so, they do not take it seriously because the garden variety vernacular versus populum mass doesn’t encourage seriousness about the nature of the Church.

    Whatever criticisms that might be made of the EF, I doubt many people didn’t take it seriously. They understood that something big was happening–not just a communal meal. Some objected and left, but it was over what the Church is–not what it is not.

  25. robtbrown says:

    Cosmos says,

    However, I don’t think he is telling Protestants and Orthodox that the are going it alone if they are not in the RC Church. I think he is talking more to Christians who think faith is a private, rather than corporate affair.

    He was certainly not referring to the Orthodox. Faith being a private affair, however, is Protestantism.

  26. marcelus says:

    The Masked Chicken says:

    No. They most certainly do NOT become aware of their irregular living situation when they bring their baby in for baptism. They know long before that what the Church teaches. It is just that, up until then, they do not care

    Chicken:

    With alll due respect, if you live in countries where Catholicism is mayority, you’ll see that happens often. Silly as it sounds.

  27. Nancy D. says:

    It is through, with, and in Christ, that The Body of Christ exists, although there will be some, hopefully, a multitude, who, like The Good Thief, will come late to The Fold. There Is only One Christ, One Word of God Made Flesh. One cannot be Christian if one is not following The Christ.

  28. ExrevDave says:

    In response to the comments about individuals knowing whether they are in irregular marriages, etc, the average Catholic I come across is radically ignorant (from lack of catechesis) to what the Church teaches. I coordinated the marriage preparation process in our parish as well as RCIA, Adult Confirmation, etc, and so many couples and individuals I encounter do not realize what marriage is in Catholic theology, practice, or canon law. (Some of that is to be expected.) Many times I’ve asked the question if they’ve ever been married before, and the answer is “No.” Then, just shortly before the sacramental liturgies, I’d get, “Hey, you know, I was once married by the JP, but since that was outside the Church it doesn’t count, right?” Most people I’ve encountered hear that “The Church doesn’t recognize marriage outside the Church” not as the Church views it as invalid or illicit, but the Church doesn’t even acknowledged it existed. Others view civil marriage as equivalent to sacramental marriage, and so don’t understand why they need to get their marriages convalidated. Catechesis, catechesis, catechesis…. educate, educate, educate. There is a reason why the great commission included the command to teach all nations….