Rorate Caeli

For the record: "It is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church"

The following is Vatican Radio's translation of today's homily by Pope Francis:

I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.

I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.

The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well. 

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

And the third idea comes to my mind - the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church - and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd - the text says: " And a large number of people was added to the Lord" - when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. " When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced ": his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says - I do not remember which one, here - "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord." And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world - as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time - we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken. 

Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it. 


  1. Anonymous10:04 PM


  2. Remember, with Modernism the errors are found in subtle additions and subtle omissions.

  3. If the Pope really means what he said, what does this mean for our "separated brethren"? Are they, in fact, really Christian?

  4. My spirit is uplifted upon reading the first bolded part after those Germans (ie. Bayern Munchen) crushed the beloved Barcelona!

  5. The 'great' venerabilis Paulus Sixtus and St. Ignatius of Antioch are as close as two opposite ends of universe.I still can't figure out, what H.H. had in mind.

  6. Where Peter is, there is the Church.
    The Gift of inability to err (Infallibility) in teaching the truth belongs to Popes Only, Not Bishops. As far as this goes Cardinal Bergoglio’s is long dead.

  7. Anonymous11:57 PM

    But this is the same man who saw no reason for Anglicans to convert so it will, ultimately, come down to how he defines "Church". And I fear that anyone who thinks Paul VI was "great" probably won't define it in a way that makes our crowd dance in the streets

  8. Unknown, are you saying that a Bishop other than the Pope of Rome who teaches the fullness of the Faith is somehow not infallible?

  9. Did the Holy Father say 'the Church' or the 'Roman Church'! It's clear what he meant. By common valid baptism whether it be by protestants or orthodox etc they are members of 'the Church' in virtue of their common 'baptism'.

  10. I don't know... doesn't this strike you as a bit incoherent? Just because the message is attractive and pleasing this time doesn't change the fact that this man has really poor language skills. It almost sounds like stream of consciousness to me. Everyone complains about how poor the preaching is in Catholic churches, but the average parish priest would produce a more competent, workmanlike homily than this. I haven't been exposed to anything but run-of-the-mill homilies, but I still think this is poor.

    I'm sure some will say it doesn't matter, as long as the sentiment is correct, but I think it's a bad sign. Francis doesn't seem like a very logical and methodical thinker. Maybe he can appeal to people through emotional surges, but I don't think there's anything very deep or resilient being constructed here.

  11. But this is the same man who saw no reason for Anglicans to convert so it will, ultimately, come down to how he defines "Church".

    And all we have for the source on that claim is the Anglican archbishop.

    Look, let's be candid: Pope Francis has certain strong ecumenical enthusiasms. He would almost certainly not have issued Anglicanorum Coetibus had he been elected in 2005. But charity and simple prudence dictates treating archbishop Venable's comment with the massive dose of salt it deserves. Too often, any kind word said to an Anglican cleric by a Catholic will be interpreted as a total repudiation of Apostolicae Curae.

    The Pope may yet define "Church" in unwelcome ways. But as it stands, his homily here makes some sound points. Sufficient unto the day, etc., etc..

  12. Notice that he said "the church". He didn't say the Catholic Church. We could only hope that this is what he means, but judging by his actions prior to becoming Pope, we have good reasons to doubt.

  13. I believe our Jesuit Pope was probably referring to Ignatius Loyola, the 16th century founder of the Society of Jesus, who calls the Catholic Church "the hierarchical Church" in his famous Exercises.

    The words are clear. He is referring to the Catholic Church, not whatever subsists wherever.

    First of all, it would make no sense to say you cannot live with and love Jesus outside of the "Church of Christ" as extended to cover anyone claiming to be Christian. People not claiming to be Christian are not trying to live with or love Jesus! He is contrasting non-Catholics with Catholics.

    Second, the quotes refer to the Catholic Church as organized as a society or whatever Lumen Gentium calls it. "Hierarchical" is about as non-vague as you can be.

    Finally, as a trial attorney, I admire Pope Francis' concise, memorable style. He tends to pick three simple points and use concrete imagery. Far from stream of consciousness it is well-organized and effective.

  14. Anonymous2:19 AM

    Please pray for this Pope for nothing is impossible with God.

    May the grace of office overcome him!

  15. Oh come on. Of course he does not believe this in the sense you would like. It contradicts the plain teaching of Vatican II. Jesus cannot be found outside the Church, but man do not even know they are in the Church. It is a Rahner-ism, the anonymous Christian thing, plain and simple. Francis is sympathetic with Evangelical faith, but he could not possibly share their exclusivism. It is simply no longer held in the official Church.

  16. Anonymous4:41 AM

    Adfero asked us to discuss whether the Pope had just squashed "Lumen Gentium & the false notion that Jesus only 'subsists' in the Catholic Church".

    If he squashed an error, it was already squashed on June 29, 2007 by the CDF. Namely:

    "In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth."

    .... "the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church."

    Is there an error there that needs to be squashed? That response itself seems rather to have squashed a mistaken understanding of Lumen Gentium. But I'm no expert on this topic.

    I do like that in his homily, the Pope qualified the noun "Church" with the adjectives "hierarchical" and "Catholic".

    I note also the Holy Father's concern for the Syrian Orthodox bishops who have been kidnapped. Is that why he emphasized the Syrian connection from the epistle, and the theme of evangelizing in the midst of persecution? Pray for them.

  17. Saint Paul was instrumental in expanding our faith to the Greeks.

    This sermon to the Cardinals seems to lack the expected depth.

  18. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Jesus never said "come to mother church" (whatever that means), He said "come unto me" (John 7:37) -- the Jesuit pope got it wrong.

  19. According to Vatican Council II (Ad Gentes 7) all need faith and baptism for salvation. So finally one only finds Jesus and salvation in the Catholic Church, of which he is the pope.

    That a non Catholic can be saved is only a possibility. We do not know of any case in 2013. So Lumen Gentium 16(invincible ignorance),Lumen Gentium 8(elements of sanctification)etc are not exceptions to Ad Gentes 7 or the Popes statement here.

  20. I'm with St. Corbinian's Bear: who made us judges of the Pope, to interpret his homilies in the worst sense possible, being uncharitable at most?

    "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."

  21. I'm with St. Corbinian's Bear: who made us judges of the Pope, to interpret his homilies in the worst way possible?

    Read Mt 7, 1-5: "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?"

  22. Well said, St. Corbinian's!

    So many back-biters here. Is the poep perfect? No, but this is a great statement of faith!

    And the St. Ignatius citation makes it clear he is referring to the Catholic Church.

    Even if he is ecumenical, so was Benedict, the issuer of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Benedict, as Ratzinger said many things less clear on ecumenism than this.

    This is completely in line with Benedict, and I think, far more clearly traditional!

  23. I tend to agree with those who want that when Pope Francis says "the Church" or "Mother Church," he means the Catholic Church, of which all members KNOW they are members. I hope and pray that, if he didn't mean exactly that, he will soon and will not only speak but act accordingly.

  24. I also tend to agree that words are not enough--particularly when they are ambiguous enough to be interpreted in a heterodox way. I've read the Vatican II documents; the words of Pope Francis share the same frustrating ambiguity.

  25. Anonymous1:54 PM

    mackquigley said...

    Jesus never said "come to mother church" (whatever that means), He said "come unto me" (John 7:37) -- the Jesuit pope got it wrong.
    You DO realize that Church is mystical body of Christ, right? So, "Come unto me" and "Come to the Mother Church" is one and the same thing ;)

  26. Father Leonard Feeney was proclaiming this in 1950 when Cardinal Cushing was opening interfaith worship centers in the Boston Archdiocese. Look at what has happened to that Archdiocese since then.

  27. Read what today Pope Francis has said. See:
    "Christians should not be frightened of the final judgment but should let it affect how they live, Pope Francis told the 100,000 pilgrims who filled St. Peter’s Square." The Pope's idea of the 'Church' is not exclusively of the Roman Church but rather all those who are united to Her by valid baptism, whether they be protestants, orthodox or whatever. United to the Holy Mother Church albeit in an imperfect way but nevertheless are Christians and who do Love Jesus all the same.

  28. Anonymous5:20 PM

    D. Harold, nothing in this story shows the pope's words apply to anyone but Roman Catholic's. When he says Christians, we must, out of charity, believe he means Catholics unless he says otherwise.

  29. Surely, no one would seriously hold that Pope Francis thinks the ONLY one to be christian are Roman Catholics! This position would be absurd and con tray to the teachings of Vatican II.

  30. when the Pope refers to `christian`he refers not only to Roman Catholics but to ALL those who hve been validly baptized. Valid baptism incorporates them into the church . This is the clear teaching of Vatican II. Read the Decree on Ecumenism for yourself. This would be his maning of the term `Church`!

  31. Let's straight this out, Eezekiel Mossback. BVI cosidered catholic church as the true church by public statement.Classical proties still honour the church Fathers of a first millenium. I'd like to believe, that you can see the difference between being unsure on one hand and mistrustfull on the other. Ramifications of modern confused catholic church on a society is obvious: crime ridden planet, run by satanic cabal and threat of extermination. Our combat is on two fronts, one is for the restoration of the church and Kingship of Our Divine Lord Jesus and the other is for the restoration of civil catholic society. Nothing less will do.It's incumbent upon us, that we do our utmost to restore all things in Christ. How dare vermin in priestly garb in high places blabing about need of tiny downtroden catholic flock!Their impudence has no boundaries!

  32. "Surely, no one would seriously hold that Pope Francis thinks the ONLY one to be christian are Roman Catholics! This position would be absurd and con tray to the teachings of Vatican II."

    No. It would not be absurd.

    Yes. It would be contrary to the teachings of Vatican II. And yet, it would demonstrably be in agreement with every papal and conciliar document prior to Vatican II. Add to that the fathers. Add to that the Sacred Scriptures.

    Valid baptism, in the Name of the Holy Trinity, is not the sole condition for being a Christian. Having the correct Faith is. Hence the Symbol of Faith. Protestants are heretics. They do not have the Faith - they hold to heresies. They are therefore heretics, id est: Protestants, and not Christians. It would be long to go through all the infinite subdivisions of that Germano-barbaric scar on the face of human history - suffice it to say every denomination departs from the Symbol of Faith in more than one way or another.

    The Eastern Orthodox are more complicated as it is a matter of schism and not heresy. If they are consciously in schism - they put themselves outside of the unity of the Church by their deliberate choice not to be within it. If they are Eastern Orthodox in simplicity, raised in it, sincere and devout, without any opinions about why the "Latins" are, allegedly, evil and bizarre and the Holy Father especially - I would say they are within the unity of the Church, still imperfectly as not knowing and acknowledging the Church's visible head on earth.

    As for what the Holy Father meant. I agree with Adfero. Presume orthodoxy from charity until proven otherwise.

    - adulescens

  33. This quote from the Decree on Ecumenism should set the correct intrepretation of Pope Francis (or as He prefers to be known, as the Bishop of Rome).
    "For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church"
    Paragraph 3 Decree on Ecumenism (UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO).

  34. Anonymous12:20 AM

    D. Harold, maybe try interpreting the Council through Francis in this one, instead of him through the Council ...

  35. D. Harold

    If the Council of Trent excommunicated Protestants - what could it possibly mean to say they are still in "imperfect communion"? To say that heretics are in Communio with the Church is to directly and literally by definition contradict the meaning of excommunication.

    Are they ex communio or in communionem?

    It cannot be both. Or at least not in this sense. In line with the hermeneutic of continuity we would have to interpret the quoted passage of Vatican II in light of Trent and the previous Councils.

    The only orthodox reading I can see is that they are using the word "communion" not in the historical and dogmatic sense of membership, shared Faith, Sacraments and leadership - but to mean that possibility of direct entrance into the Church without re-baptism available to all heretics baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity. The validity of their baptism is in some very vague, indefinite sense capable of being called "communion" with the Church. It is their unsound Faith that vitiates it and makes true Communio impossible without conversion.

    - adulescens

  36. If only the members of the Roman Catholic Church are 'christian' then why is there a Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Church! See:


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