First, let me explain what Pelagianism is.
It is a ﬁfth century heresy concocted by an English priest, Pelagius, which held to the denial of original sin and to the idea that we can go to heaven for being merely naturally good. He denied the necessity of actual grace in order to maintain a good moral life, and to avoid hell. Actual grace was merely a help, but not a necessity. Needless to say, this heresy was condemned.
Bergoglio has consistently accused Catholic traditionalists of being Pelagians. It is because Catholics — and the traditionalists are the only true Catholics — regard it as necessary for salvation to perform meritorious acts, that is, good works which are accomplished in the state of sanctifying grace, with the ultimate purpose of pleasing Almighty God. They also require adherence to the dogmas of the Catholic Faith as necessary for salvation, since the supernatural virtue of faith requires this adherence. There is no sanctiﬁcation without the virtue of faith.
“Faith” for Bergoglio, however, is merely an interior feeling about a relationship with God, and has nothing to do with dogma. He detests traditionalists for this adherence to dogmas.
In a recent document entitled Gaudete et Exsultate, Bergoglio again severely attacks traditionalists on these grounds. He does not mention them by name, but it is clear that he means those who are resisting his reforms. He accuses them of being Pelagians.
Then, on April 15th, Bergoglio, while visiting a parish in Rome, called up to himself a young boy, Emanuele, who was crying because his atheist father had died. The boy asks Bergoglio if his atheist father could go to heaven. Here is Bergoglio’s answer to the boy:
“Maybe we could cry like Emanuele when we have pain in our heart. He cries for his father who died and has had the courage to do it in front of us because there is love in his heart – he underlines – his father was an atheist but he had his four children baptized, he was a good man. It’s nice that a son says his dad was “good.” If that man was able to make children like that, he was a good man, God is proud of your father. God has a father’s heart, your dad was a good man, he’s in heaven with him, I’m sure. God has a father’s heart and before an unbelieving father who was able to baptize his children, would God be able to abandon him? God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier to be a believer and to have children baptized than to be a non-believer and to have their children baptized. Pray to your dad [thereby saying he is in heaven], talk to your dad. This is the answer.”
There is no more pure example of Pelagianism than what Bergoglio said to this boy. For there is no sanctiﬁcation without the virtue of faith. We are not rewarded with heaven for being naturally good, but for being supernaturally good, that is, by corresponding to graces we receive from God for the positing of good acts done in the state of sanctifying grace. To say that one goes to heaven for being merely naturally good is the very essence of the heresy of Pelagianism.
This is not to say that the good works of atheists are evil works, or that they merit damnation. They are truly good works. By being atheists, however, they commit the habitual mortal sin of inﬁdelity, and by that posit an obstacle to any supernatural act which must be based on the supernatural love of God. Saint Pius X called love of God without faith a monstrous error.
I have often said that Bergoglio’s statements are nearly always characterized by three marks: heresy, ignorance, and stupidity. This is not merely a snarky quip. There is a consistent line in this man’s thoughts and actions which betray the presence of these problems.
The man has repeatedly demonstrated the spirit of heresy, a complete disregard for the teachings of the Catholic Church. He has furthermore indicated consistently an ignorance of many subjects, in this case the very nature of Pelagianism. Stupidity always makes its mark as well, for to style traditionalists as Pelagians is so grossly asinine and ludicrous that it beggars description. Call traditionalists what you want, but they are not Pelagians.
Congratulations, first of all, for the beautiful blog!
I agree with everything that is said about this affair, but I disagree with these wordes under photography: “He should have told the boy that there is no hope of salvation for an atheist”, because it means telling the child that his father is in hell.
Now, those who die as an atheist certainly go to hell, but you can not have the ABSOLUTE certainty that an atheist dies atheist, for the simple reason that it is not possible to know the last moments of that man’s consciousness.
That child can consecrate his life to obtaining his father’s salvation. It does not matter that the father is dead: God, in fact, is in eternity.
Unless one has a supernatural revelation (like the Cure of Ars regarding a man that had committed suicide but had repented before actual death), we must judge things according to the known facts. We must assume that the child’s father went to hell even if, by an extraordinary grace, the person made it to Purgatory. St. Teresa of Avila once had a revelation that a certain person was in Heaven, but she continued praying publicly for the repose of that soul because that is what you do when a Catholic person dies.
Such an explanation would rightly give that child the hope (even if remote) that his father is safe.
On the contrary, the words under the photo would unjustly remove that same hope from the child.
“We must judge things according to the known facts”. Exactly! Then what should have been said is: “According to the known facts, your father in hell” (ie not absolutely).
It’s only a picture caption. I think everyone gets the point.
Just want to say thank you for the clarification.
Gabriele, as I, do not have the Pelagian heresy, yet i have seen family and friends express this sentiment.
I do believe being tactful is good and encourage the child or adult to pray.
Many are not formed in the Catholic faith and problems can arise, adults, with a person getting angry and becoming physical.
Thank you for this blog.
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