So, opening Facebook this morning, I had one of those What in the Hell??? moments when ZENIT gave us the headline, “Pope to US Christian Unity Event: Jesus Knows All Christians Are One, Doesn't Care What Type.” This was a statement that would scandalize the faithful. Was this one of those incidents where Pope Francis spoke “off the cuff” and created another headache for apologists? I mean, this is the level headed ZENIT, not some uninformed secular news site or radical blog that shoots first and asks questions later.
A portion of the article would lead you to think this was the Pope’s fault:
Francis pointed out that Jesus knows that Christians are disciples of Christ, and that they are one and brothers.
“He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic…he doesn’t care!” Francis said. “They are Christians.
Is the Pope offering a heresy of indifferentism?
The short answer is “No.” The longer answer is “HELL NO!"
The complete transcript is found HERE and it is clear that the author of the first article (probably in good faith) completely misunderstood who the article “He” was referring to in the article. What the Pope actually said was:
Together today, I here in Rome and you over there, we will ask our Father to send the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and to give us the grace to be one, “so that the world may believe”. I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps. But there is someone who “knows” that, despite our differences, we are one. It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom. He knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic…he doesn’t care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we are living an “ecumenism of blood”. This must encourage us to do what we are doing today: to pray, to dialogue together, to shorten the distance between us, to strengthen our bonds of brotherhood.
In other words, the Pope was saying that the devil didn’t care what denomination he was persecuting—he wants to destroy Christians!
Now this was a completely orthodox site, and they got things drastically wrong. Now keep this in mind when a secular newspaper misinterprets something the Pope says.
Also keep this in mind when a “Super Catholic” gets outraged and bashes the Pope on the basis of what is reported in the news.
The moral is—always use the transcripts and always read carefully if you think something sounds strange. It’s easier to believe the reader is in error than that the Pope is teaching heresy.