Pope Francis asks priests to forgive the sin of abortion

Pope Francis passes a crucifix as he walks down steps during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 4. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic New Service

Pope Francis passes a crucifix as he walks down steps during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Dec. 4. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic New Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Tuesday (Sept. 1) told priests to forgive repentant women who have had an abortion.

In a letter to the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the pontiff urges priests to express “words of genuine welcome” to repentant women who have undergone abortions, “combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed.” He tied his decision to the yearlong jubilee celebration of Catholic faith, which begins in December.

“I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,” the pope said in a letter  addressed to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council.

The Catholic Church deems abortion a “moral evil” and “gravely contrary to the moral law.” A person who cooperates in an abortion should be excommunicated under canon law, although that person can be welcomed back into the church if the person is truly repentant and asks for forgiveness.

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While the papal letter does not change church doctrine, it brings to the fore an issue Francis has talked little about during his papacy. In writing to Fisichella, the pope addressed “the tragedy of abortion” and said some people do not realize the “extreme harm” caused by terminating a pregnancy.

Francis also turned at length to women who believe they have no other option but to go through with an abortion.

“I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal,” the pope wrote. “I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”

A person who has confessed “with a sincere heart” and is repentant cannot be denied forgiveness, the pope said.

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, assistant to the Vatican press office, said the pope’s statement showed a pastoral approach to abortion.

“Many bishops have granted priests permission to forgive the sin,” he said. “The fact that this statement is coming from the pope and in such a moving, pastoral way is more evidence of the great pastoral approach and concern of Pope Francis.”

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The letter is the latest effort from the pope to change the culture of the church to make it more merciful. In August, Francis issued a powerful call for the church to embrace Catholics who have divorced and remarried, telling a gathering at the Vatican that such couples “are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way!”


About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.


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  • This guy is either taking his sales tips from TV Evangelists (money, money, money), used car salesmen (money, money, money), the immorality machine of the Democratic party in the USA (VOTES and money, money, money and POWER). . . or, the Gospel of Christ Jesus and the teachings of the original Apostles.

  • Your incoherent post there seems to assume all are mutually exclusive. So in your Faux informed worldview then the immorality machine of the Republican Party is somehow exempted?

  • Interesting story. This Pope continues to astound, although never coming close to reversing eons-old woman hating policies, this is certainly a baby step in the right direction. Of course, the assertion abortion is somehow “a sin” is not informed by ethics so much as by patriarchy and oozing, dripping woman hatred.

  • The immorality machine of the Republican party is its utter contempt for the average employee of the USA. But, they allow the real practice of Christianity as explained in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament without labeling it a hate crime. So, yes, the GOP is repugnant with no doubt about it, but not as hostile to the Gospel of Jesus – for others to employ in their own lives – to exist without attacking it everywhere like the Democrats do.

    But certainly, there are many anti-Christians in the Republican Party. The Ayn Rand clan. Which include some liars that say they are Christian. Like Scott Walker. They are (like Walker) called “anti-Union” elected officials. Usually Governors of the states.

    But please post nastiness about Republicans to your heart’s content. We’ll compare the hostility towards Christians of the two major American political parties, and we’ll see that the Democrats are anti-Christ as a matter of influential numbers in it.

  • George,

    I tried to answer you but got censored by the machine here at RNS.

    GOP certainly bad in several ways. Anti-union sc_mbags for sure.

    But not hostile to real Christians as are the Dems.


  • I don’t know why this is news unless the Pope is trying to reeducate Catholics, or profess Catholic dogma to non-Catholics.
    Any sin can be forgiven if the penitent asks for forgiveness with a contrite heart, and promises to avoid sin in the future. Forgiving a woman who has aborted a life has always been a forgiveable sin. Nothing new.

  • What I have a hard time with is, that a man The Pope, was given life by a woman,
    then put in place by a group of men, from woman, and sits or stands in judgement
    of what one is or is not allowed to do with ones life.

  • Francis also said that anyone who confesses to a priest of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX, in temporary schism) “shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.” The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in its June 2012 report European Extremist Movements named SSPX as influential within the French far-right, anti-Semitic party. In January 2012, it was noted that British
    fascism posed a “real danger” and “might draw strength from the assiduous networking” of the SSPX. According to a Spiegel article in 2010, SSPX priests held signs at a gay pride parade: “Save Children from Perversion,” and one of them condemned the event as “moral pollution.” In 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center kept SSPX on their “Hatewatch” list because of the virulent anti-Semitism of its leaders.

  • I’m sorry – your incendiary and trollish “sales pitch” was as far as I got.

    Do you have anything useful to add to the conversation?

  • Not to split hairs, but all sin is forgiven, regardless of repentance and contrition.

    However, without those things, forgiveness cannot be received.

  • News Flash:

    Human Primate (Pope) decrees other Human Primates (Priests)
    can determine – all by themselves – what is right.

    But same Human Primate (pope) decrees other Human primates (women) cannot determine what is right by themselves.

    And who grants such incredible power to this Human Primate?
    Other Human Primates who send him money.

    There we have the insufferable ignorance and bigotry
    of the religious argument.

  • The more important issue is whether priests even have the biblical authority to forgive sins.

    To wit:

    o Bases of Confession: (Sacrament of Reconciliation) from the NT passages:

    (1a) Matt 16:19
    (1b) Matt 18:18
    (2) John 20:23

    And what do some of the contemporary NT scholars conclude about these passages?:
    Professor JD Crossan’s analysis:
    Item: 375
    Strata: III (80-120 CE)
    Attestation: Double
    Historicity: negative

    See also Professor Gerd Ludemann’s review in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 197-198, 205-206, 575-581. His conclusion: the passages are historically nil.

  • Hi Mike– My understanding is, all forgiving, and unconditional love, comes from
    only God. One only has to ask, and it is granted. Why is there such a problem
    for who is right? Are we ALL part of the whole !!

  • To heck with the Pope. Nobody needs to apologize for having an abortion.

    If the Catholic Church wants to have anything to do with reducing abortions or the need for them, then they should rethink their position on contraception. Until that happens, his input on the subject is less than useless.

  • Neil, I’m sure that pro-life women, of which there are many, disagree with both your analysis and your premise.

  • Ludemann’s a pretty nutty fellow and the Jesus Seminar, which you’re apparently fond of, is not exactly the cream of the scholarly crop, either.

    These people are to rigorous scholarship what an ax-wielding maniac is to his innocent victim.

  • Larry, you’re correct about contraception, but you’re out of your mind on abortion.

    And the Pope is right-on about forgiveness.

  • Anyone who talks about abortion but tries to hamper access to contraception is not worth listening too.

    Until the anti-abortion crowd can come up with plans of action involving access to healthcare, education, employment opportunities, childcare and contraception for poor women, they are not worth listening to either. Their concern for living people is phony hypocritical irrational nonsense.

    Its clear all they want is control of female reproduction. This is why s1utshaming and silly notions of guilt/sin are such a necessary part of their rhetoric.

  • You know what’s a good way not to get censored? Avoid using as an epithet a word for a container of semen. You’re welcome.

  • Maybe because they are so full of hatred for life itself that pro-abortion advocates can’t comprehend anyone so in love with life itself that he or she is fighting to protect all human life from the time of conception to the time of natural death. In fact virtually all pro-life people are against both killing a child before birth and against setting up a system that virtually pushes an older person to commit suicide. Calling all that anti-woman — reaches the height of absurdity that could only be embraced by someone who hates life itself.I guess abortion advocates ascribe to the slogan: “All life matters—except a child’s”

  • There are no “pro-abortion” people. there is no “love” in the position favoring criminalizing abortion. Instead, it is just a pithy attempt to control the sexuality of women by oppressive patriarchy by appealing to sentimentality. If a person were truly “Pro-Life” they would easily reach compromise with Pro-choice forces. Here’s how: We’ll eagerly throw abortion providers under the bus by agreeing to restricting abortion after the first trimester as long as broad exceptions for the woman’s health are written therein, provided it’s coupled with full equality for all genders and sexual orientations in all areas, realistic sex education, and an end to forced religion.

    What’s that? No? So, you’ve revealed as we already knew, this is about sex and nothing else and the maudlin appeal to msave the bay-bees is just window dressing for the oppression being advocated.

  • One you reference John Dominic Crossan . . . you may as well reference the Demons that had things to say to and about Jesus . . . and of course Br’er Rabbit as well.

    Although, of course, said Bunny is not as rabidly anti-Christian as Crossan, but has as much to do with Christian truth as JD does. .

  • Larry,

    It seems that what you and yours are concerned about is the denial of easy access to promiscuity.

    Then again, the greatest trick ever played on women by men is feminism. Gave men EVERYTHING they ever wanted.

    “Cuz of the easy access deal.

  • Jack,
    Why are you surprised that those who realize that have been the victims of the world’s largest and most successful conspiracy to defraud, blackmail, and mislead people in order to control them for their own ends, are angry?
    In former times they would have been silenced Max. Today their power is much diminished, but alas it still exists because of the power of fear (hell) sustained by tradition (and not just Christian tradition).

  • And the impregnators? Can they receive forgiveness for whoring around and abandoning the woman and child he conceived? What acts of contrition must he perform? Does Pope Francis advocate for forgiveness for him?

    Oh wait. I forgot. The men are not part of the “sin” equation because . . . they’re Male. Apparently these terrible women conceived via immaculate conception. Does Jesus know he wasn’t the only one?

  • S1utshaming, right on cue.

    Women are not allowed to make personal decisions because they are dirty sinners who can’t control their libidos. Therefore righteous moral men like yourself must make the decisions for them. After all you know better than them. They don’t really know what is going on in their own bodies, right?

    Useless sanctimonious crap. Not worth bothering with.

  • Be Brave,
    No problem then. Before popular modern contraception there was promiscuity, and abortion, but perhaps less. Unhappily, common was child marriage, rape (often the same thing), prostitution, slavery, adultery, street children, and the host of other evils which one can see today in the less developed world. These evils were mostly because women were kept ignorant and dependent. We are still at the dawn of the age of woman’s equality. I suspect that we will be sometime finding social solutions that form a new census.
    Abortions and unwanted children. represent serious failure of social institutions, not just individual actions. There is plenty of blame to go around.

  • Because the Pope is the arbiter of what is moral and immoral in this world. This authority comes from Jesus, Himself. Yes, Jesus, born of a woman.

  • The Jesus Seminarians: Contemporary NT exegetes specializing in historic Jesus studies. Requirements to join, typically a PhD in Religious History or Religion with a proven record of scholarship through reviews of first to third century CE scripture and related documents.

  • A priest is always a priest….until death. If the Pope allows the SSPX priests to hear Confessions, that is his right. That sacramental right does not hinge on any other issue.

  • Professor John Dominic Crossan- Christian but no longer Catholic-

    Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (Harper San Francisco 2001)
    •The Birth of Christianity (Harper San Francisco 1999)
    •The Jesus Controversy : Perspectives in Conflict (Trinity Pr Intl 1999)
    •Who Is Jesus? (Westminster John Knox 1999)
    •The Essential Jesus (Book Sales 1998)
    •Who Killed Jesus? (Harper San Francisco 1996)
    •Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (Harper San Francisco 1995)
    •In Parables : The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (Polebridge Press 1994)
    •The Historical Jesus (Harper San Francisco 1993)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification (online)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Independent Attestation (online)
    •Common Sayings Tradition in Gospel of Thomas and Q Gospel (online) Who Killed Jesus?: Buy at!
    •Seminar: HJ Materials & Methodology (online)
    •A Closer Look at the Mustard Seed (online)
    •Was Jesus Buried?…

  • Because you can’t trust yourself to make such decisions. Without the pope and his bestest pals Jesus and God looking over your shoulder, you would just be murdering, robbing and raping all over the place.

    What you are telling me is that Catholics are inherently gullible, overly deferential to authority, and are incapable of talking about morality.

  • Once again, based on rigorous historic testing,.there is no biblical basis for the sacrament of reconciliation

  • Time for sarcasm, Debbo, for you certainly know the answer.
    Men do not need forgiveness for impregnating a woman and abandoning her to an abortionist. It is their god given duty to be fruitful and multiply by any means necessary. Since women are so prone to any affection shown by a man they are primo targets for men to use at their whim. If the woman loses the man she so easily gave herself too after two beers, it is too bad, and she must bring forth “Mr.Smith’s” baby to raise and love since other men now consider her a wanton harlot.
    So is the sad plight of women, because of Eve. Men are doing the work of creation…it is the women that are murdering babies.
    How’s that answer?

  • There is no such thing as “rigorous historical testing” for events of antiquity. Evidence in antiquity is subject to so many limitations as to lack any form of “control” which would make testing even possible. Mundane records are nearly impossible to find on most things except by accident. Even written records had a tendency to be embellished, revised, and distorted based on the intended audience.

    You are doing a disservice to non-belief by engaging in psuedo-academic studies and making claims which cannot be rationally supported. Swapping out one set of irrational fact free belief with another.

  • Oh Bernardo…
    Jesus to His Apostles; “Whatever you shall loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven, and whatever you retain on earth shall be retained in Heaven.” This gift was to be passed on to each generation of priests umti the end of time.

  • Of course that also means those silly claims that “The Bible is confirmed by archaeological evidence” are also full of crap as well.

    The best answer one can give is, that if an event is not physically impossible at all, “we can neither confirm nor deny events and people in the Bible”.

  • Wrong, Larry. The past century is filled with examples of skeptics refuted on specific allegations by archeological discoveries.

    When it comes to names, places, and events, there are numerous instances where skeptics doubted their existence and built entire theories on such doubts, only to be upended by the results of subsequent archeological digs.

  • Well, Larry, nobody’s totally correct on this one, except me. You’re right on contraception and wrong on abortion. The pope is right on abortion but wrong on contraception. The pope is right on forgiveness, and I presume you agree with him on that, so that makes you both right on that.

  • Good one, Max…….Would that it were true.

    Of course, that would mean Adolf, Josef, and others of like behavior would escape ultimate judgment.

    No risk of that happening, Max…..hell’s for real alright.

  • Samuel, I’m not assuming that every atheist, or even most atheists, are angry like Max.

    I am, however, observing the obvious fact that Max himself is an angry lad.

    As for conspiracies, I’m not a conspiracy buff. I think 99% of conspiracy allegations on just about anything are flatly false because they violate Occam’s Razor. Their holders toss aside the simple and the obvious for the complex and improbable.

    Conspiracy theories are especially wrong about religion, specifically biblical religion. They can’t withstand even a smidgeon of scrutiny.

  • So you have to be a professor to join. Duh.

    Read the many critiques of the Jesus Seminar and you’ll see what I’m attempting to say.

    It was not biblical scholarship’s finest hour, to say the least.

  • Correction. You probably disagree with the pope on forgiveness, because you believe abortion is about as sinful as brushing your teeth or taking a snooze.

  • Now that’s quite a caricature of belief and practice, Larry.

    There is a thing that Catholics call natural law, Protestants call common grace or general revelation, and Jews call the Noahide laws.

    It says that God has revealed to all human beings, through nature, reason, and conscience, the rightness or wrongness of things. Thus, we don’t need “special revelation” ie the Bible, to tell us that, for example, it’s perverse to agonize over the lives of convicted murderers while cheerfully reminiscing about plunging sharp utensils into unborn babies’ skulls.

    Thus, you don’t need the Bible to say what one’s conscience is shouting from the housetops — that if you’re weeping over the impending execution of a cop killer but defending the right to kill a fully formed baby, your moral compass is broken and you need to get it fixed.

    On such matters, what conscience affirms, the Bible merely confirms.

  • Yes, it is excellent for Francis to extend the mercy of God through the Church to all who have done the horrible evil of abortion, and now see the error of their ways. God is extending an olive branch to those who have destroyed the very life they created, and would love for them to come home, and be forgiven. That is God; that is the Church; that is how the divine mercy is effected. I hope all Catholics in the state of grave mortal sin come home during the Jubilee. And George, there are only two types of people when it comes to the snuffing out of little babes: Pro-Life, or Anti-Life, explicit, or implicit.

  • Yes, the priests of St. Pius X have received valid holy orders from their bishops, who are in apostolic succession. Their sacraments might be illicit, but nevertheless valid. Both Our Lord, and his successor to the Apostle Peter, Francis, are in full agreement regarding mercy, and forgiveness of sin. If one could only see how the state of the soul changes during the Sacrament of Confession, he/she would be running there weekly.

  • If the impregnators were involved in the procuring of the abortion, then they are just as accountable. Obviously they are already accountable, as they have engaged in Fornication, which leads to other grave sins, such as abortion. Sin is like dominoes, once you stumble, the rest come tumbling down.

  • Jack

    What about unsaved unbaptized ordinary people? Does the church not send them to hell, and does not the church teach that they deserve to go to hell because of original sin? Adolph and Josef were baptized, and maybe could get off with a million years in purgatory. The ordinary dumb unsaved person supposedly deserves eternal torture. How can you believe this?

    Am I wrong about church teachinng?

  • Jack,
    Consider the religion of Serapis. It contains more than a a smidgeon of
    conspiracy. The trouble with the view in your camp (in my poor understanding), is that you see things in a bipolar fashion. The ruling class in any civilization does not. Good and evil are not measured by them as it is by the standards of the faithful. Ptolemy certainly thought that he was doing good in reconciling the Greek and the Egyptian population.

  • Dominic,
    You statement confirms that you drank the Kool Aid. My father was in the “unbroken line…” You would not like to know his opinion.

  • DMJ76, I’m not a Catholic, but in response to your asking about the Catholic Church sending people to hell, neither the Catholic Church nor any other human entity has the literal capacity to send anyone to hell. That requires a being far more powerful than humans are.

    All any church can do is speak its beliefs, based on Scripture alone, or Scripture plus tradition, on the matter.

    According to Scripture, all have sinned and deserve hell.

    But according to Scripture, the key step that anyone can take to avoid hell is plain and simple honesty.

    We have to look at ourselves with complete honesty and ask whether we’ve even lived up to our own values, our own internal moral compass. Any honest person will say, “no, I have not — and it’s not even close.” And the better a person is, the more clearly they will see it in themselves.

    That’s the starting point. All of us are capable of that. It takes no particular belief to do that.

    More in the next…

  • Once we acknowledge the odd but undeniable fact that none of us lives up to even our own values and principles — not even the best people in the world — we’re on the right track. We are admitting to ourselves what is inescapably true….something that most of the great writers and thinkers of history, ancient and modern, theist or atheist, have said.

    Put another way, we can’t go wrong, in this life or any other, when we’re owning up to reality.

    Granted, according to the Bible, that isn’t what saves us, but nobody can be saved without first owning up to this reality which, again, every honest person, theist or atheist or agnostic, will see.

    The Bible and Christianity in all its forms calls that “confession” — a fancy word for simply admitting about ourselves what is plainly obvious, no matter how outwardly good or nice we appear.

    But admitting it is one thing. The question is whether it bothers us enough to try to do something about it.

    More in next post.

  • To sum up, DMJ, I’m taking your question seriously by getting behind religious jargon to what it all means. The goal is to make it understandable so you’ll know what Christianity is saying and why. You may say in the end, “that’s a lot of bunk” but at least there won’t be misunderstandings, as there often are on such things.

    So confession means we’re admitting that we’re not as great as we think we are….we’re admitting that even our own standards find us wanting.

    The question is whether we care. If not, that’s that. We stay where we are and we take our chances that there isn’t an even greater judge than our own standards in the future.

    But if we do care, if we say, “you know, I really do want to be a better person and live up to my own standards,” then we’re in repentance mode. Again, that’s a religious-sounding word, but the word simply means to change one’s mind on something. What we once thought was okay isn’t anymore.

  • So if we admit that we don’t live up even to our own personal standards, and that bothers us enough that we have a change of mind where we now want to do so, whatever it takes, we are doing what religious people call confessing and repenting.

    At this point, we haven’t done anything remotely religious. In the sense I’m using these words, both a theist and an atheist is capable of “confessing” and “repenting” — admitting how we fall short of our own personal standards and deciding that we care enough to want to live up to them going forward.

    You can do both in the sense I’m saying and not believe there’s a god. Again, it has zero to do with religion.

  • So…what Christianity is saying is that what our own standards are telling us if we’re honest — that we’re falling short even of our own internal values in how we live our lives — is all the more true when it comes to God’s standards.

    And just as we must decide whether we care or we don’t care when we fall short of our own standards, so must we decide, according to Christianity, whether we care or don’t care about God’s standards which logically would be infinitely higher than our own if He exists.

    If we don’t, then, as with our own standards — end of story. We take our chances that there’s no God to judge us one day. We go on with life, and that’s that.

    But if we do care, then, according to Christianity, God asks that we confess & repent, in the same way as if it were our standards, not His, at stake. It requires the same honesty — admitting that we’re nowhere near as good as we think we are, and the same desire to change or be changed.

    More next.

  • Where Christianity or the Gospel comes in is in the fact that as high as our own standards or values may be, His are infinitely higher. If there is a God, we would expect that to be the case. It would not shock us.

    According to Christianity, His standards are so much higher, that in comparison to them, we are in a lot worse shape than even our own standards indicate.

    Why? Because He’s a pain in the a…. and a stickler? No. Because if there’s a God, He is perfect and we are not. Based on our own standards, we’ve just admitted we’re not even perfect in relation to them. How much more must that be true when compared to a being who is perfect?

    What to do…..If Christianity is true, then it says that while confession and repentance — again, something we can partly understand even if we don’t even believe in God — are necessary and crucial and point us in a very good direction, something else must happen to access “salvation.”

  • The issue is difficult but false teaching is deadly. You simply cannot take the blessings of Gods character and promises and twist them into a man made attempt to help those crushed by there own actions. Yes God forgives but NEVER can one man cleanse the soul of another who has offended a holy God. To say so is to falsify the gospel record. You cannot promise, offer Gods forgiveness only He can do that.
    To ease the conscience without dealing truthfully only blinds the penitent. “In whom we have redemption through his blood even the forgiveness of sin”

  • And that “something else” is the Gospel.

    If we see our faults, our falling short, from the perspective of a perfect God, then they’re more like crimes than faults.

    When a crime is committed, and we see evidence such as a body on the floor, what is the common human response?

    It is something like this: “Someone must pay for this crime.”

    We’re wanting justice….and justice means the person who did the crime must pay for it. The guilty person must be apprehended and then, if guilt is proven as a result of a trial by peers, they pay by being sentenced to prison or in some states, possibly death.

    So according to the Gospel, our falling short of God’s standards is through words and deeds that are crimes that must be paid for.

    Now if we’ve confessed and repented of them, that’s good. Just as we usually forgive ourselves when we fall short of our own standards, so does God want to forgive us when we fall short of His.


  • But…if God forgives us, He is merciful but unjust — because we’ve committed crimes and He’s letting us off….and nobody’s paying for them.

    Yet if God doesn’t forgive us, He is just but unmerciful — He is making us pay for our crimes even though we’ve owned up to them (confessed them) and don’t want to do them again (repented of them).

    And that’s where Jesus dying on the cross comes in…..

    In essence, Jesus is paying for our crimes, so that when we confess and repent of them, God can be merciful without making a complete mockery of justice. If we confess and repent, we can be forgiven so mercy is done….while Jesus’ dying for us all means that justice still matters because payment was made — be it symbolic or spiritually real (however you wish to look at it).

    So DMJ, that’s the background for your question….

    One last post and I’m done….Apologies for this taking long….I wanted to take your question seriously.

  • So without confession & repentance, nobody can even align with their own standards, let alone God’s. Without admitting we’ve betrayed even our own values, we’re denying reality. But once we admit it, we must want change.

    So what if we own up and want change, confessing and repenting, but don’t accept Jesus?

    We’re saying, “we admit we committed crimes & don’t want to pay for them but want you to forgive us of them, but we reject the idea of someone else, Jesus, paying for them.”

    Well, if we don’t want to pay, and we reject God’s offer of someone else paying, then nobody pays and justice means nothing. God can then say, “deal’s off.”

    So according to Christianity, the norm is you must accept Jesus to be forgiven. But what about the hard cases? Is everyone who doesn’t say yes doomed?

    No….God’s not a moron. It’s case by case. The starting point remains sincere confession and a repentant heart. Without that, nothing happens or can happen.

  • Dominic,

    Scroll up the page to see a rigorous historic testing of Matt 16: 19 ” “Whatever you shall loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven, and whatever you retain on earth shall be retained in Heaven.”

    i.e. it is historically nil.

  • Larry,

    The archaeology in the time and neighborhood of Jesus has been studied by Professors Crossan and Reed:

    Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts

    Nov 25, 2003

    Regarding the OT:

    Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that ”virtually every modern archaeologist” agrees ”that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all.” The rabbi offered what he called a ”LITANY OF DISILLUSION”’ about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have ”found no trace of the tribes of Israel — not one shard of pottery.” NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

  • Jack,
    Your notions of justice are not only pure speculation, they are myopic.
    What we see (if we care to look) and what we experience is not “fair” nor kind, nor even efficient. Nature is wasteful and brutal. Innocence is exploited, and chance trumps all.
    If there is/are a creator, then it is he/she/it who is culpable.
    Your creator God is evil. Happily, he only exists in you imagination.
    “..Nor all your piety and wit can cancel a single line..”

  • The Jesus Seminar was not organized for the purpose of breaking new ground. It was simply an exposition of the topics and opinions discussed and taught in Seminaries across Western Christianity. Its shortcomings merely reflected the state of scholarship in those institutions at that time. They were neither novel nor new, in that world.
    The reaction of the faithful was merely an indication of how much the folks in the pews had been kept in the dark.

  • Natural law is a catch all term for whatever arbitrary rules one wants to make up and put forth without criticism. It was nonsense term back in Thomas Aquinas’s day and a useful fiction for the Catholic church since.

    Christians constantly claim an action is allegedly moral because the Bible commands it. Not because they use their own judgment. It’s a claim with sociopathic intent. Any action, no matter how malicious and harmful is excused if one claims divine command. It is how you excuse atrocity (even you claimed genocide was moral under God’s command).

    It is perverse to talk of morality while lying and showing slothful indifference to others. But here you are.

  • Rigorous testing of a statement of Jesus? It’s in the Gospel. It defines the act of forgiving sins. It is an eyewitness testimony. The Jesus seminar is pure bombast.

  • Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Just as I am gullible enough to accept the rational moral precepts of the Catholic Church….as any student would from a sound teacher….you are a gullible follower of all theories that vacillate with times and fashions. Atheistic, humanism, modernism, you name it… are there to soak it up.
    The Catholic psychology is to seek perfection, while understanding that perfection cannot be achieved by man. It is the quest that is important for society’s greater good.Catholicism never professes ideas that are evil for mankind.
    Science does this all the time. Your religion.

  • Well, let’s see, Laurence. Around 33 AD, Jesus ( God ) gave Peter the Authority to rule His Church on earth….as He would. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit imbued the Apostles with divine knowledge, grace, and bravery to carry out God’s mission. As each generation died away, this power was handed on to the next.
    Is it any clearer now..or are you an anti-Catholic, “enlightened” reformer?

  • It’s sarcasm, Sam. Debbo seems to have a huge grudge against an imagined idea of male domination. A bitter feminist….I just gave her what she likes to hear.

  • Wrong Jack, you are lying through your teeth.

    “Biblical Archaeology” is notorious for confirmation bias and jumping to conclusions of “refuting the Bible” without laying a proper foundation of evidence. They do not subject their work to peer review as do objectively legitimate academically credentialed archaeologists. Its akin to calling a Creationism a science. They may pretend it is one, but fail on the methods and what is acceptable evidence.

    When it comes to names, places and events, there is a lot the Bible gets wrong. Even geography at times. Apologists are rife as are excuses made for factual errors.

    The one common thread among archaeologists when it comes to antiquity is that evidence is usually scant. Especially anything on a mundane level.

  • Bernardo, lack of evidence is not evidence of lacking. 🙂

    It is far better to say no evidence exists to confirm than to say it didn’t happen.

  • Larry,
    You are correct, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody, and the Fractured Fairy Tales, were not on PBS. Shame on me for misremembering childish things in my dotage. Catch 22- if you are actually old enough to remember that show ……

  • Dominic,
    “Blessed are the cheese makers.”
    Monty Python

    So much for eye/ear witnesses!
    Just ask any lawyer- even me!

  • My father, a Methodist minister, was ordained by a Methodist Bishop. They claim the unbroken line, via the Church of England.
    “Drank the Kool Aid” refers to the 1978 Jim Jones killing some 900 of his American followers with the sweet drink ( actually, grape Flavor Aid, poisoned with Valium, chloral hydrate, cyanide,[139] and Phenergan.[140] in Guyana).

  • DMJ, my final post never got posted so I’ll wrap up here. I’m trying to respond thoroughly to your good questions.

    You ask whether, according to Christianity, a failure to accept Jesus means one is doomed.

    I’ve tried to show that honest confession and repentance are key, and put us on the road to receiving mercy if we’re willing to take the next logical step and accept that God has satisfied the justice side of the equation through Christ’s death, meaning not just that we don’t pay for our crimes, but that we’re accepting that He did in our place.

    But God’s not an idiot…He knows there are circumstances that might prevent an honest confession and sincerely repentant heart from consciously accepting Jesus’ paying for our crimes. Some never heard of Jesus. Others have but lack the mental capacity to understand the Gospel. Some have heard the words but from utter hypocrites who lie and cheat and steal and even kill.

    God gets it and judges accordingly.

  • No, Larry, you don’t understand the issue.

    Let me walk you through it with an example:

    For decades, radical skeptics scoffed at the Biblical account of the destruction — in one single night, 27 centuries ago — of the 180,000-man Assyrian invading army camped outside of Jerusalem. According to the Bible, God killed them all.

    Decades later, archeologists discovered tens of thousands of unmistakably Assyrian medallions in the area where the Assyrians had been camping. Further testing indicated that indeed, they had been wiped out at the same time.

    I personally heard an archeologist speak about it during my first trip to Israel. He said he was and remains an atheist….but he added that he had no other word in the English language other than “miracle” to describe what happened.

    This is one of countless examples where a simple archeological discovery blows away a theory of skeptics and validates the Biblical account on a matter.

  • Are you serious? You really are not aware that men dominate this planet? Okay. Just so I know what I’m dealing with.

    BTW, the reason you ought to be embarrassed by your attempt at sarcasm is because it is mostly true. Women are held accountable for pregnancies as if they conceived miraculously. Men are lauded for slutty behavior. The many smart and wonderful men I know, including the one I’m married to, are just as appalled by by men’s sexual, sinful immorality as anyone.

    Shall I take your comments to mean that you are in the first category, lauding the male whores?

  • I agree Greg 1, so they need to be at the forefront of these discussions. My point is that it is a mistake to focus solely on the women. If the RCC really wants to end abortion, then it ought to be working on the other actor, the male.

  • And BTW Larry, rather than trying to bluff your way through a subject about which you are clearly ignorant, you need to study the history of 20th century archeology…and how discovery after discovery has taken apart radical skeptical scoffing at numerous Biblical accounts.

    Here’s the general pattern:

    Radical skeptics will say such-and-such a person never existed…..then archeologists will run into a plaque or a dedication that specifically mentions the person.

    Radical skeptics will say such-and-such an event never happened……then archeologists will run into obvious evidence that it did happen.

    Radical skeptics will say that a writer got the date wrong for a particular public official’s tenure….then archeologists will find evidence of the public official’s having two sets of tenures.

    In no such cases were archeologists doing anything other than their job. In all such cases, what they found really speaks for itself.

  • Bernardo, what is a “redneck” publication? More to the point, who are “redneck” scholars? The ones I’ve read graduated from decidedly non-redneck institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, Princeton TS and Brandeis.

    You need to understand that citing the Jesus Seminar does not gain your views much intellectual or scholarly credibility. Even scholars on the “left” end of the spectrum are decidedly unenthusiastic about its flights of fancy, and more mainstream scholars have criticized them for their decisions about what Jesus said or didn’t say, decisions based on a smorgasbord of biases, including anti-supernatural ones.

  • Larry, nobody is saying “the Bible is confirmed by archeological evidence,” as in “the message of the Bible is proven by archeology.”

    What people are saying is that the rise of modern archeology has led to discovery after discovery that refutes the eccentric theories of skeptics who flatly denied the historicity of various people, places, and events mentioned in Scripture.

    Simply stated, modern archeology has caught the radical skeptics with their pants down time and again. It is very embarrassing for some blowhard to proclaim that something or someone never existed and then some archeologist to discover hard evidence proving otherwise.

    Again, that doesn’t prove the Bible’s message about God and people and salvation is true. But its findings are certainly consistent with that notion.

    It also shows the hubris and the folly of radical skeptics who didn’t take the time and care in the first place to adhere to rules of historical evidence.

  • Bernardo, whenever anybody cites as evidence against any text the “lack of corroborating evidence,” beware.

    As I’ve told you numerous times, a text is refuted by the presence of contradiction, not the absence of corroboration.

    Get that through your head and memorize it. Repeat it until it sinks in.

    It is a basic rule of evidence for the fields of both history and law…..and thus pertains both to documents and to eyewitnesses.

  • Rabbi Volpe is falling into the common fallacy of believing that a text is deemed suspect by the absence of corroboration rather than the presence of contradiction. Most educated people believe that, but that’s not how historians view texts.

    And this is not some odd quirk of the history profession. The legal profession and the court system treat sworn-in witnesses exactly the same way. They are deemed to be telling the truth until proven otherwise. Even if a witness is the sole witness to an incident, even if, in other words, there is no corroboration of his or her testimony, that witness is deemed credible until that testimony is found to contradict either itself or outside testimony or already-established facts.

    Again… is not the lack of corroboration, but the presence of contradiction, that calls documents or witnesses legitimately into question.

  • Bernardo, what exactly is your claim? That Jesus never uttered those words?

    According to the Jesus Seminar, there are huge blocks of words and sayings of Jesus that Jesus never uttered.

    The obvious question that even a child would know to ask is this:

    How would they know?

    Or to put it a different way, did Jesus step through a time tunnel, snatch an MP 3 or an old tape recorder, take it with him, back to the first century, and then tell his disciples, “hey guys, I’m going to record my every word for the next 3 1/2 years?” And if so, is the Jesus Seminar in unique possession of the recorder and audio record, miraculously preserved for the next 20 centuries?

    Or perhaps Jesus stepped a second time into the time tunnel, made it to our time, and put the recordings directly in the hands of the Jesus Seminar pups.

  • Jack you missed my point entirely to deliver apologetic nonsense.

    The point being that research into antiquity assumes one will lack enough evidence to get a full “confirmation” of oft-told tales. Conjecture and interpolation is far more common than “proof”. It also doesn’t help that objective accounts of events was not likely for writers back in the day. Even “historical” writers.

    “Decades later, archeologists discovered tens of thousands of unmistakably Assyrian medallions in the area where the Assyrians had been camping. Further testing indicated that indeed, they had been wiped out at the same time.”

    Citation please. Confirmation bias appears to be demonstrated by your example. Looking for connections and making assumptions rather than the actual merits. Biblical archaeologists look to “confirm the Bible” rather than study their finds objectively. The greatest threat to objective study of antiquity is the need of people to support their religious belief.

  • Larry, I wonder if you “get” the issue. If you reject natural law or general revelation on the one hand and Biblical revelation on the other, you’re left with whims and emotions.

    In reality, you, like everyone else who’s not in a straitjacket, embrace natural law You do so whenever you take a moral stand and try to convince others. Unless you’re a dehumanized brute, living by instinct alone, you’re consenting to being governed by it. Whether you experience it as your own conscience or your own reasoning powers, you let it into your life without realizing it.

    Most of the Bible’s moral positions fall under it……Even if there were no Bible, we’d have access to them by virtue of being human.

    So it’s too simple to claim that when Christians say something’s wrong because the Bible says so, they’re just responding to an external code. Yes, murder is wrong because the Bible says so, but it’s equally true that the Bible says so because it is.

  • And I would add that one of the reasons so many people throughout the world embrace biblical religion of some sort is precisely because they found that what was in the Bible fit with what they already knew to be true in the first place…especially regarding the basics of the moral law.

    The idea of the Bible being some alien set of books with a moral compass that is foreign to human reason and conscience is preposterous. Were that the case, there wouldn’t be nearly 2 billion people in the world embracing Christianity of one form or another. The reason for all those believers or sympathizers is because the Bible strikes people of every culture as oddly and not so oddly familiar, not foreign.

  • Larry, read people’s posts…..don’t skim. Read.

    The archeologist who related the story of the overnight decimation of the Assyrian army stressed that he was and is an atheist. He had no axe to grind. He and his colleagues are professionals who are simply doing their job. And as part of their work, they have been discovering the obvious.

    It is not his fault that radical skeptics keep making fools of themselves by denying the historicity of people, places and events in the Bible without any reason, violating simple evidentiary rules time and again.

    Each time they do that, they leave themselves open to future archeological discoveries that refute them yet again.

    For decades, skeptics doubted Pontius Pilate’s existence, even though not just the Bible, but Philo of Alexandria and Josephus, both of them contemporaries of Pilate, mentioned him.

    Then about a half century ago, Israeli archeologists unearthed a plaque with his name, as procurator of Judea.

  • Jack,
    Why do you choose to live according to the understandings of the primitive mind. (The earth was at the center, the heavens resolved around them and naturally the heaven dwellers were terribly concerned with the focus of their view.) All this was the universal view before the Greeks. The Greeks travelled/traded with the Mediterranean world as free men, and some began the intellectual journey from skepticism, to comparative religion, and to pre- modern thought. Christianity was a regression to primitivism. Magic and miracles came back into intellectual fashion. Galileo, Newton, and Darwin’s ideas had to wait another thousand years while superstition reigned.
    I do not maintain that Modernism is Utopian, or even the best way to have a society, but like a market economy, it seems to be preferable to the alternatives available at the moment.

  • Calm down, Debbo. Of course men are equally culpable in the sin of abortion if they assist the woman in getting one. The law gives no man the right to stop her, which it should, so he would not be culpable if she acted independently. Of course, a whole host of sins could apply to the conception; adultery, fornication, rape, incest, etc. In that case men are in need of repentance.

  • Sam, sorry, but a Methodist minister is not anywhere near the line of succession from the Apostles. That line only applies to Catholic priests. The Protestant Reformation….1500 years after Christ..created a new faith without any divine authority. The Kool Aid I drank comes from the Fountain of Truth that the Catholic Church protects eternally against pollution.

  • Dominic
    “the Fountain of Truth” makes the KoolAid. Their Truth is by fiat only.
    Christianity, is the worst disaster ever to befall Western man -Anitole France.
    The Bible contains upwards of a thousand lies, and is not suitable reading for Children -Mark Twain
    I can go on making flat, unsupported statements and/or quoting famous people indefinitely. Evidence, (remember I am a lawyer), is quite a different matter. Testimony, absent physical evidence, is unreliable. Testimony confirming impossible, un-replicable events is worthless. Flying saucers are more likely.

  • Dominic, I wouldn’t even grant that science is Larry’s religion. Note how he departs entirely from the science of fetal development while staking out an extremist position on abortion, supporting it any time, any place and for any reason, all the way to birth. Most pro-choice people join with pro-lifers in opposing his position.

  • Samuel, tell that to those Christian and Jewish scientists who take the Bible seriously.

    Tell that as well to the forerunning giants of modern science, who were strong believers in the Bible.

    In fact, a cursory study of the history of science shows that the very presuppositions of a biblical world view — belief in an orderly universe that was the product of a methodical God, belief in a subject/object relationship that makes us confident and capable of studying nature and arriving at genuine facts and rational conclusions — aided in the emergence of modern science in the Judeo-Christian West, as opposed to the pantheistic East.

  • Your lawyer status means nothing to me, is it supposed to infer that you have found all the loopholes in religion and can prove lies are being passed off as truths? You have outwitted God?

    There is testimony to physical evidence in the Gospels…..or is it too ancient for you to verify? Where is the opposing evidence from the same timeframe? Nowhere. Where are any eyewitnesses that deny the existence of Christ and His works? Nowhere. And when was Mark Twain elevated to theologian?

    Your argument is weaker than tissue. Meaningless and able to be crushed by history’s most brilliant thinkers. Next case!

  • The problem, Samuel, is that the religions we’re all familiar with, ie the ones that have real longevity, having begun long ago and are with us still, don’t seem to be the product of any conspiracy.

    This is certainly true of religions like Judaism and Christianity which by their very claims have pinned themselves down to concrete assertions what allegedly happened in particular times and places. No “in days of old when knights were bold” vagueness….but “during the reign of Caesar Augustus when a census was taken…”, figures such as “Jesus of Nazareth,” who is thus identified as having come from a specific town, as opposed to nowhere in particular.

    Such claims do the obvious — they offer contemporaries of that era the chance for rebuttal if the writers were making up stories about people who never existed doing things that never happened.

  • @Jack,

    So you wish there were a hell for the Nazis? Why?
    They swore an oath to the same God who created Hell; “Got Mit Uns” on every Nazi belt buckle.

    The Nazis were doing the work of the Lord:

    “Get those enemies of mine who would not have me for a KING [ie: THE JEWS who reject me] and Execute them in front of me” – JESUS CHRIST (Luke 19:27)

    You know the Nazis had their eyes on Heaven as all dogmatic followers of Messianism do.
    Including Al Queada:

    “72 Virgins await our martyrdom in Heaven” – Mohammed Atta

    You clearly have no clue.
    It is precisely the pursuit of Heaven
    which is what creates Hell on earth.

  • So Jack explain away the following about your god:

    (or did they all die as martyrs?)

    Number of god’s creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000 approx.

    2. 200,000,000 ?

    3. 100,000,000 approx.
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000 ?
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000
    Antonine Plague

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

  • Dominic,

    Obviously, you have not read the an-alyses of the NT passages by many of the contemporary historic Jesus scholars making you not fit as an expert witness in any trial where Christianity is being sued for co-nning the common man for the last 2000 years.

    Some words hyphenated to defeat a word filter.

  • So Bernardo, you’re angry with God because lots of people die of certain calamities?

    I’ve got further news for you:

    Nobody gets out of here alive.

    Not you.

    Not me.


    That’s the biggest of big issues if you’re on the subject of death.

    And over half the message of the Gospel is that while none of us gets out of here alive, none of us has to perish forever.

    You know the rest.

    The whole message is that death has not the final word on the matter.

    Thus, if the Gospel is true, you have told only half the story…..actually not even half.

    It’s like telling a story of an army that loses a big battle but leaving out the part where they win the war.

  • Bernardo, I relish the chance to defend, any time and any place, Christianity as it’s being sued in that manner.

    I could win that one in my sleep.

    The evidence that the foundational claims of Christianity are based on truthful testimony is compelling.

    It is only a combination of irrational prejudice, refusal to bend the knee to God, and slothful resistance to even the most cursory examination of the surrounding historical facts that prevents people from concluding what the weight of evidence overwhelmingly suggests.

  • @Jack,

    “…none of us has to perish forever….. if the Gospel is true”

    First, you claim god will save us RIGHT NOW in this lifetime! from any problem:

    “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do…If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” – JESUS (John 14:13-14)

    When that fails completely, you say
    the failure is not in the claim but in the lack of faith of the person who followed God’s INSTRUCTIONS with all his heart!

    Shame on you for this childish approach to life.
    Shame on you for cowering from your responsibilities!
    Shame on you for not growing out of childish wishes.

    These stories are not only untrue, they are dangerous, abject nonsense.

  • @Jack,

    “The evidence that the foundational claims of Christianity are based on truthful testimony is compelling.”

    Compelling? Oh right, because Zombies make a lot of sense.

    Gospel of Matthew:
    “The dead zombie saints rose from their graves and visited the city visiting with all the residents for several days…” (Matthew 27:52)

    Makes so much logical sense. Do you believe in Godzilla too?

  • @Bernardo,

    I understand.

    But I have done 40-years of homework: Catholic School readings, Atheist books, hundreds of Christian books, lectures and critiques from the Bible to all of “The Jesus Seminar” all of Bart Ehrman, Dominic Crossan, Dan Dennett, Thomas Paine, Richard Carrier, Robert M. Price…and countless dozens of other writers from all sides of the debate.

    A real (yet very vague) Jesus figure may have existed 2000 years ago but it cannot be determined. You seem to care about this – but I really don’t – because that Jesus is not my target.
    The Jesus you are trying to describe was lost and cannot be found.

    More important is the Jesus DESCRIBED IN THE GOSPELS.
    That is the Jesus which cannot be a true character.
    The Jesus of the Gospels has been shaped into contradictory legends.

    I am only talking about the Jesus of the Gospels – not the one you are trying to focus on.

  • Max,

    But the Jesus of the Gospels is only there in ~20% of the passages something you should know by now considering your library of books on Christianity. The authentic Jesus is easily found on-line as previously noted.

  • Bernardo,

    “The authentic Jesus is easily found on-line…”

    I understand.
    You believe there is an ‘authentic’ Jesus. But I still see no reason to believe those passages are authentic. I have read the arguments in favor and find them inconclusive.

    There appears to be no conclusive proof of any ‘authentic Jesus’. Though I’m happy to consider whatever proof you think you have.

  • Dominic,
    1. You do not speak for God.
    2. You can only speak for yourself.
    3. Jesus is a Greek name for a person.
    4. Christ is an idea, not a person.
    5. theologian-definition. Those who speak with ever increasing exactitude concerning the unknowable.
    6. re: history’s most brilliant thinkers. Would that be your list, or mine?

    Belief clouds the mind and destroys objectivity.

  • I hope the pope would make clear what His definition of mercy means,when He uses the term mercy. Does mercy mean you do not have to turn away from the disordered thoughts which lead to the disorder activity?Does the Popes definition of mercy leaves you in your sin, and, blesses the disorder ,which is sin. Does the Pope mean you need not change? That is what I understand mercy means to the Pope. I do hope I am wrong. I pray that, He would speak as clearly as Jesus does. When Jesus speaks His word is very clear, and brings you to except or reject what He speaks, His word never confuses you. The Popes words offen cause much confusion within the catholic community. The world loves the Pope ,and feel empowered ,to continue in beliefs contrary to the teachings of the scripture and the Catholic Church. Is that mercy? Where am I going wrong? Opened to other thoughts. For me mercy is ,that the grace of God ,transforms,my disordered thinking and behavior from error to Him who is the life.

  • Exactly what I thought. So how make any sense of the popes ” permission” to absolve women who have had abortions? Couldn’t priest always do that, given repentance and confession?

  • Jane,
    Of course, the pope does not mean by ‘mercy’ an encouragement to sin, but grace to all who have shown their willingness to walk in a new life of Christ, not without, though, useful resolutions..