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Does the Pope Really Think Jesus Sinned?

January 8, AD2016

Kelli Ann - angel

Pope Francis has, once again, gotten himself in trouble with those bloggers who are often more than ready to criticize his every word.

This time, the criticism involves these words from the pope’s homily on December 27, for the Feast of the Holy Family:

At the end of that pilgrimage [to Jerusalem, when Christ was twelve], Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little ‘escapade,’ Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.

“What does the pope mean, Jesus ‘had to beg forgiveness’? many Catholic bloggers are asking. “Does this not mean that Jesus sinned? That’s heresy! That’s blasphemy!”

(See here, from Novus Ordo Watch. See here, from Restore DC Catholicism. See here, from Roman Catholic Imperialist. See here, from Suscipe Domine. See here, from Vox Cantoris. See here, from The Remnant.)

The Pope Has Expressly Affirmed the Sinlessness of Christ

But let’s not be so quick to leap to that conclusion. It can’t really be that simple, can it? I would need much more evidence to conclude the pope thinks Christ was a sinner than a single statement in a single homily that, at worst, would merit a sincere cross-examination before I would draw any such conclusion.

And not only that, but at least three times in the past year the pope has expressly affirmed that Christ was without sin.

First, on October 18, 2015, during a canonization Mass, the pope said these words:

There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified. Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows”, and our suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin”(4:15). Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion. He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.

Second, in his Ash Wednesday homily, on February 18, 2015, the pope had this to say:

Reconciliation between us and God is possible thanks to the mercy of the Father who, out of love for us, did not hesitate to sacrifice His only begotten Son. Indeed Christ, who was just and without sin, was made to be sin when, on the Cross, He took on the burden of our sins, and in this way He redeemed and justified us before God. “In Him” we can become just, in Him we can change, if we accept the grace of God and do not allow this “acceptable time” to pass in vain. Please, let us stop, let us stop a while and let ourselves be reconciled to God.

Third, in a homily in the Philippines, at Tacloban International Airport, on January 17, 2015, he said:

[Christ] is like us in everything. In everything but sin, for he was not a sinner.

So the pope affirms, at least these three times, that Christ was without sin. It is just not plausible that the pope changed his mind on a central dogma of the faith some time during the last two months, and now thinks that Christ was a sinner.

So What Did the Pope Mean?

All this does, however, raise the key question: How are we to understand the pope’s words? For he is, by his own admission, speculating beyond what Scripture tells us. In fact, far from telling us that Jesus asked for forgiveness, St. Luke tells us that he challenged his parents: Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)

It might help, in trying to answer this question, for us to look at the original Italian. The pope said:

Per questa sua “scappatella,” probabilmente anche Gesù dovette chiedere scusa ai suoi genitori.

The phrase in question, being translated “begged forgiveness,” is “chiedere scusa,” and it seems to have a broader application than just absolution from sin. (See here, here, and here for examples of the wide range of uses the word has.) If you bump into someone by accident in a crowd, for example, or if you cough, you would say “scusa”—or, as we do in English, “excuse me.” But no one suspects you are guilty of sin. Instead, you say it as a polite custom of etiquette.

So perhaps the pope’s meaning was to speculate (for he is speculating at this point in the homily) that Jesus may have said to Mary and Joseph something like, “Oh, I see I caused you worry. I am sorry.” That is not an admission of sin, but a giving of comfort to his worried parents.

That is possible, on a verbal analysis of the pope’s words. But the one real problem with such an interpretation is that many of the surrounding paragraphs have to do with the importance of our seeking forgiveness during the Year of Mercy. Here, for example, is the very next paragraph of the homily:

Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience. In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.

So from the biblical text, Pope Francis seems to draw the lesson that we too need to admit our mistakes and ask forgiveness, just like Christ. An interpretation like the one I suggest above, far from putting the pope’s words in context, seems to be taking them out of context. One would have to assume that the pope was speaking loosely and rambling around and not keeping to a consistent context. The pope never does that! Does he?

So one can be—scusami—forgiven for thinking that the pope sure seems to be saying: Do not be afraid to seek forgiveness when you sin, for in doing so you are being just like Christ after he was found in the Temple.

Let me emphasize that I do not believe that is at all what the pope had in mind. He has expressly said that Christ was without sin. But from what this text says, I can’t exactly blame someone for scratching his head and asking: “Did the pope just say what I think he said?”

Still, we must be willing to interpret the less clear in light of the more clear, as we do in biblical interpretation. And while the pope does not say, “Jesus sinned,” he does say, “Jesus did not sin.” Even when the pope makes us scratch our head, we need to take a breath and try to work through it and not leap to accusations of heresy that don’t match up with the evidence.

Or Perhaps the Pope Was Just Careless and Misspoke

But none of this even begins to address the pope’s odd description of the whole episode as an “escapade” on Jesus’s part. (As though Christ wandered off to play hooky.) I suspect the pope was using the word loosely, or tongue-in-cheek (for it is in quotation marks in the text, as though to underscore that he is not being literal), but it is still an odd word choice. Jesus said, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” These are not the words of someone describing an “escapade,” even loosely, but a duty. And he challenges his parents: Why would you not understand this?

We know that Christ was obedient to his parents and obedient to death. We know that he was baptized, though he did not need to be since he had no sin. It may not be too much to guess, as the pope does, that Christ may, at this time, have said “I am sorry,” even though, speaking strictly, he did not need to.

But that is not what this text in Luke is about. This text is about the fact that, though Christ was humble and obedient to Mary and Joseph, he had a higher obedience that he owed to God. That is why he stayed in the Temple.

And that leads me to a second possibility, which is that the pope, being someone who is prone to speak extemporaneously, simply wandered down a rabbit trail and didn’t fully think through the implications of what he was saying. He was trying to find an illustration in the text, and stumbled upon one that he did not edit before it rolled off his tongue. Who among us has not been guilty of that?

In any case, and because the pope-bashing bloggers are having a field day, this is the kind of perplexing statement that the Vatican really should come out and clarify.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Scott Eric Alt is a Catholic convert and blogger at the National Catholic Register. He has an M.A. in English literature (1998) from Southern Illinois University, and in a past life taught introductory college composition and literature. In 2011, after many years of Protestant church-hopping, he was received into the Catholic Church. He is a Third Degree Knight of Columbus and Benedictine oblate of St. Meinrad Archabbey. He currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find his personal blog here.

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  • Aliquantillus

    This article is just an example of so many attempts to excuse this Pope from his inexcusable utterances.

  • Micha_Elyi

    I’m disappointed that Pope Francis’s words must so often be explained away. His actual words, not the words that a hostile secular media published after spinning, twisting, mistranslating, and inaccurately paraphrasing what the pope really said.

    Perhaps there is truth to the story that Pope Francis won’t wear the traditional red shoes because he doesn’t like their taste in his mouth.

  • Phil Steinacker

    Your are correct to present the three instances in which the pope the sinlessness of Christ.

    However, you too easily dismiss his penchant for loosely speaking off the cuff with a lame “who among us hasn’t done this?” excuse.

    Look, the man is pope. While past popes may have needed to provide clarification on some rare occasion, the fact is that in my living memory (66 years) I have not seen a pope who so frequently performs publicly so that his apologists trot out this excuse. Enough already.

    As for contradicting himself, the man has both condemned those dedicating their lives (because that’s what it demands) to fight abortion and homosexual marriage and still defended Church teaching on those issues.

    Which do you think the public remembers? Which do you think liberals use all the time to promote their agenda?

    The pope has stated the male priesthood cannot be changed; however, we are hearing the next synod will treat the subject of the married priesthood which, if it comes, will certainly open the door to female ordination.

    This man is not up to the job, and therefore is not trustworthy to defend that which was passed down to him without change. I don’t have authority to declare him a heretic, but he opens himself up to accusations that he is not speaking truth with heretical or near-heretical statements like this one.

    If people like you constantly need to clean up after him like this, then perhaps he should simply stop speaking. Perhaps if he confined his statements to written form, Cardinal Muller could vet them before releasing them to the world.

    You seem to almost sigh in your subtle suggestion that once again, the traditionalists are screaming ‘fire” where there is none. Alternately, I can easily sigh over reading one more time a tired, worn-out and quite predictable line of reasoning which seeks to exonerate the pope of full responsibility for the mess he himself has made.

    • Tweck

      He has never condemned people who fight against abortion or in support of marriage. You are lying.

  • Yankeegator

    Require The Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests to take The Oath Against Modernism. If they are truly CATHOLIC with no alternative wolffish intentions, then there is nothing to fear in saying it…

  • Howard

    He was trying to find an illustration in the text, and stumbled upon one that he did not edit before it rolled off his tongue. Who among us has not been guilty of that?

    Sadly, this is all too true! On the other hand,

    But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Matthew 12:36,37

    • Tweck

      The World’s Most Perfect Catholic formally threatens the Pope with eternal damnation. Your log is showing.

    • Howard

      1. I know you’re trying to be snarky, but precisely no one thinks that I am “the World’s Most Perfect Catholic”, starting with me. I’m not about to confess all my sins here, but you really should have noticed the way I was agreeing with the quote, “… he did not edit before it rolled off his tongue. Who among us has not been guilty of that?” This is a fault that many of us are guilty of, and even if I wanted to deny that I have often been guilty of it [EDIT], it would be much too easy to find illustrations that prove my guilt. In fact, I unintentionally demonstrated it just here, when I failed to complete this sentence on my first submission because I was interrupted!
      2. You have heard of the distinction between a mortal and a venial sin, right? It is one thing to think that a Pope (or anyone else) who is careless in his choice of words commits some sin, which is arguably true; it is another to say that the sin is grave; and it is yet another to say that it is a mortal sin — that would require knowledge of the Pope neither I nor you could possibly have, even if we knew he had committed a grave sin. So no, I was not “threatening the Pope with eternal damnation.”
      3. That said, I cannot assure the Pope of eternal salvation, because the Church does not assure him of that. In spite of the love and respect which we owe every Pope, and in spite of the fact that some of his statements are protected from error by the Holy Spirit, he has free will. The threat of eternal damnation does hang over him, but it comes from himself, as the threat to you come from you and the threat to me come from me. Popes go to Confession for a reason.
      4. My main point, really, is that this Bible verse is not speaking only about slander and detraction or the use of blasphemous language, contrary to what appears to be the widespread opinion. In fact, it doesn’t even say that every idle word is sinful just because it is idle; it says that just because it is idle doesn’t excuse it from judgment. Careless talk may not be intrinsically sinful, but it is dangerous — sufficiently dangerous that some religious orders strongly encourage their members to be slow to speak, even if they do not impose a full vow of silence.

    • Tweck

      Oh stop. No need for the lengthy condescending pedantic over-explanation. You could have stopped at being aware that I was being snarky. You were clearly indicating that the Pope better watch what he says or he may have to answer for it on judgement day, i.e., he could go to hell, as in you are judging the Pope.

      We’re supposed to judge ourselves, not each other. Jesus makes that incredibly clear in the gospels, yet here I see a collection of people casting judgment at the Pope every time he opens his mouth, and generally willfully misinterpreting his words. And now … veiled threats of the potential for damnation.

      And thanks, but I don’t need the Layman’s Exegesis of Matthew 12, or the dripping condescension.

  • Elijah fan

    I take a very different position on Christ in the incident. To be gone without leaving word with someone in the caravan for THREE DAYS is not absented minded. It’s deliberate and Christ was deliberately weaning His earthly parents away not from sin but away from a good thing …parental attachment. He knew what Mary was going to have to go through when He would be in His early 30’s. Heartbreak and three days waiting near the tomb. He was training her in this incident to untighten the grip…just a little bit…on being being one with Him in the earthly modality of mom/son. Christ at 12 was using sudden shock therapeutically. He did this in His ministry. He shocked the Canaanite woman by saying, ” It is not right to give the children’s food to dogs”. She grew another step and said that even dogs eat what falls from the master’s table. Christ then drops the shock treatment and exclaims…” woman, great is thy faith”. When Mary and Martha send Him word that Lazarus is in dire sickness, does Christ run to them? Quite the opposite…love made Him use shock in order to grow their faith.
    Here are the words: Jn.11:5-6 ” Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was ill, he remained two days in the place where he was.” That couplet is telling you that Christ delayed in order to stretch their faith and that shock worked. Martha gave Christ a dig when He finally arrived..
    ” if you had been here, my brother would not have died”…but then Martha changes and grows in faith and says, ” But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
    Look at your life. God shocked you in the past and it made you grow if you cooperated with the shock. And He’s not done.
    As for Pope Francis? Proverbs 10:19 is a warning to all loquacious people…and we’ve all been there at least when young.

    • Tweck

      I have another explanation. What 12 year old boy hasn’t done something that worried his parents. People seem to forget that while being fully God Jesus was also *fully* man. With the exception of sin, *fully* man. Fully. And thus had to grow up. Like a human. He had to learn to talk, right? Or did He emerge from the womb speaking fluent Aramaic?

      He spent time in the temple without informing His parents, and worried them. It is not a far stretch at all, and is even a likelihood, that later He may have apologized to them for worrying them.

      Plus nothing at all in the Pope’s commentary even SUGGESTED that Jesus sinned.

    • Elijah fan

      Three days forgetting your parents is an impossible stretch in a working class family.

    • Tweck

      I never said He forgot them. You are putting words in my mouth.

    • Elijah fan

      You my friend enjoy pointless debate way too much. I never said you said He forgot them.

    • Tweck

      I do quite agree with what you have to say about God shocking people – love shocking us to grow in holiness though. That’s often very true, I find.

  • JayRobThom

    Francis is not very good at self-editing because he doesn’t appear to grasp well how things sound outside his own head.

  • Dave Armstrong

    Great job, Scott (or “Great Scott job”)? I wrote a sort of companion-piece to yours:

    “Pope Francis Espoused a Sinning Jesus? Think Again”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/01/pope-francis-espoused-a-sinning-jesus-think-again.html

  • barnabus

    PAPALOTRY.

  • Deacon Raymond Moon Sr.

    Jesús was acting like an inquisitive 12 year old boy. It appears to me that those criticizing our Holy Father seem to forget that 1: for it to be sin there has to be knowledge of what you are doing is wrong and do it any way and 2: they have forgotten what it is like to be a 12 year old.

    • On the first point, are you saying what Jesus did was wrong but not sinful? I understand the distinction, it just still strikes me as odd when applied to Christ. I am trying to read this as, the extent of what Christ was “apologizing” for (in the pope’s speculation) was causing inadvertent worry–which I don’t think of as necessarily “wrong.”

    • Exactly! And with most kids that go wandering off, they know where they are and are perfectly safe which is why they tend to be mystified at our worry 🙂

      Kids!

  • David

    I find it simply unfathomable that Jesus wouldn’t have apologized. Any respectful son would have for causing worry. Do others really think He didn’t love His mother enough to apologize?

    • Elijah fan

      But He didn’t apologize. In fact His answer sounded like a fraternal correction of His parents.

    • David

      Or it’s possible that it is so obvious that He would have apologized, it wasn’t worth mentioning.

    • Elijah fan

      We are in two diverse galaxies.

    • David

      You should visit Earth, it’s beautiful here!

    • Elijah fan

      Not according to the Pope and the polar bears who can’t find enough seals.

    • Phil Steinacker

      That’s exactly right. He gently but clearly rebuked his parents for their failure not to know Him better. This nonsense is put forth by folks who don’t read and study Scripture very much.

    • David

      How many times does the Bible mention Jesus using the restroom? Since it doesn’t mention any, does that mean He never did? Of course not. Jesus did rebuke his parents. But it’s also quite possible He said, “sorry for causing you worry.” The Jesus I study daily in scripture loved His mother very much. It’s not at all unlikely He could have apologized.

    • Tweck

      Exactly. *sanity*

    • Tweck

      You don’t know that He didn’t apologize. You only know one statement He made in scripture. He surely said a LOT more than is written. And to say that because He said what He said He couldn’t have apologized is an enormous logic jump, and just as much an assumption as the one the Pope is translated as making.

      However, the Pope is a highly schooled theologian with a very high level of biblical understanding. He’s probably more right than a layperson who simply doesn’t like the Pope and is looking for reasons to criticize.

    • Elijah fan

      An apology is simply not in alignment with what He actually did say. That is we know from what He did say that He did not apologize.

    • Tweck

      No we don’t. He could very clearly have apologized to His mother. One does not preclude the other. What he said is not out of alignment with that at all. You are making a truth claim that is not knowable, a logical fallacy.

    • Elijah fan

      Read yourself as a stranger and ask yourself if they’d be any point in answering you. If I’m correct, something is forcing you to enjoy disagreeing. If that’s true, put off marriage until you figure this all out….otherwise you’ll pick a passive aggressive while thinking she is docile.

  • Randal Agostini

    There is yet another dimension, the most obvious one for someone who appreciates all the foibles of family. The scene is painted as though Luke were there as a witness, but he was not. It is probable, as is indicated by so many other aspects of his gospel that he was related the story by Mary. Like any mother Mary must have grown more and more anxious as she and Joseph retraced their steps to Jerusalem – the natural reaction of a parent and one she would have been eager to relate, from her point of view. Jesus on the other hand was merely exercising the impulse of a twelve year old, who did not, as a young man, recognize the crisis he had created, which was not sinful, but definitely a learning experience.
    When I was a boy, of similar age, without telling my Grandfather, I took off on my new bicycle to visit a friend – over thirty miles away! Upon my return that same evening, I was severely reprimanded – going to visit a friend was certainly not sinful, but – was I ever sorry.

  • Jesus was also fully human as well as fully God. He was also a tweenie at the time of this incident in the Temple. The Bible tells us Jesus, as human, grew like all humans. So, what tweenie/teenager fully understands the effects some of the things they do have on their parents? Few.

    12 year old Jesus stayed behind in the temple talking and questioning the teachers. He had a great zeal for God and thus was drawn to these men and their discussions. He didn’t tell His parents. He might have forgotten or lost track of time. None of that is sinful at all. Kids do that. He was mystified that His parents didn’t look in the temple first. In His tweenie mind, where else would He be?! Again, there’s nothing sinful in this. It’s like a kid who wanders off into the toy department and is left wondering why his parents looked anywhere else but didn’t start in the toy department.

    So 12 year old Jesus sees how upset His parents are cuz they couldn’t find Him. I think all parents have experienced this once and all kids have seen that worry on their parents’ faces. What do normal kids do? Apologize for having, unwittingly caused that worry. Still no sin involved here. I can see Jesus doing that. I think we forget that not everything kids do that cause us worry is sinful.

    • johnnysc

      We know Jesus did not sin. And I’m pretty sure Pope Francis knows that also but when we start using words like ‘presume’ regarding Sacred Scripture there is a good chance it won’t end well. Martin Luther ‘presumed’ a lot of things about Scripture and look where that got us.

      “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

      That’s it end of story unless we have evidence from Sacred Tradition.

    • Howard

      It’s more complicated than that. The Blessed Virgin Mary was (and is) sinless; St. John the Baptist did not personally sin, though he was conceived with taint of original sin. Your explanation could work for them, if a parallel circumstance occurred. However, Jesus is not merely sinless, He is God, and this has implications for His knowledge. This is an old debate, but Popes have taught about the human knowledge of Jesus in a way that is inconsistent with your proposal, and, to quote Fr. Thomas Petri, .“In the Church’s teaching, even in areas where we are allowed to disagree with the Pope, we are still expected to respect and to give it a fair hearing and to be docile to it. It doesn’t mean blindly accepting it, but it does mean not just outright dismissing it.”

    • So when the Bible says that “And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men,” it’s not telling the truth? How could He grow in anything if at 12 He was “all there”? How could Jesus possibly know what it’s like to be a 12 year old if He never really was, just appearing to be 12?

      What I don’t get is why Him being a normal 12 year old has people put off. Jesus decided to start off as a blastocyst. He took 9 months to develop, just like a normal baby. It’s apparent from what neighbors and family are recorded as saying that they saw nothing unusual in Jesus’s growing up. He was a normal kid, just like the other kids.

      And where in the world in the bible does it say that John the Baptist didn’t sin?

    • Howard

      You are mistaking the infallibility of the Bible for the infallibility of your interpretation of the Bible. If you want to know how the Popes have dealt with this dilemma, just follow the link. If, on the other hand, you don’t care what Popes have taught, there is no point in continuing this conversation; if Pope Francis has to be taken seriously, so does Pope Pius XII, and if you are willing to ignore Pope Pius XII, you have no good reason to pay attention to Pope Francis.

      But to turn your own phrase on you, when you say, “It’s apparent from what neighbors and family are recorded as saying ..,” it is clear that you are about to inform me about something not actually written in the Bible: “they saw nothing unusual in Jesus’s growing up. He was a normal kid, just like other kids.” Because, I suppose, people who are envious are always perfectly honest? Surely you know that someone who does not want to believe can see a miracle yet not be converted: he can always say it was a trick, or a delusion, or that it is done with the help of evil spirits. If that is true of overt miracles, it is definitely true of the more subtle sign of amazing understanding, as it is of the sign (which I take it you admit) of sinlessness.

      As for the developmental issue, let me point out that the brain is to thought what the eye is to vision. Vision does not occur in the eye, and it is possible to “see” things with the mind’s eye even with eyes that are closed or that do not work.

      As for the idea that St. John the Baptist never committed a personal sin, this seems to be a (small “t”) tradition of some age and standing, but not an actual teaching of the Church. It is based on the “pious and probable belief” that John was cleansed of Original Sin when Mary greeted Elizabeth, together with consideration of Jesus’ statement no one “born of woman” is greater than John, and some private revelations. I find this convincing, but if you do not, it doesn’t matter: it is not essential to my assertion.

    • The stubbornness of those who reject is remarkable. For on two counts this teaching
      rates as infallible: 1)The repetition, as we said, shows the intention to make a thing
      definitive. So it is infallible.

      If this teaching was supposed to be infallible and thus something all Catholics were bound to believe, why didn’t the Pope then just speak ex cathedra? That would have settled the question. But he didn’t. I wonder why that is? Did this make it into the CCC?

      The people in His hometown refused to believe He was anything special:

      Matt 13:55-56: Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence therefore hath he all these things?

      John 6:42: And they said, Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and
      mother we have known? how then does *he* say, I am come down out of
      heaven?

      Seems to me that if Jesus had been acting Messiah-y while a kid, the townspeople wouldn’t have been so mystified.

      As for John the baptist: you stated it as a fact even tho it has no Biblical support or CCC support at all. Yet you take me to task for “… mistaking the infallibility of the Bible for the infallibility of your interpretation of the Bible.” Never mind the fact that I never claimed any infallibility on anything at all. It just sounds a bit hypocritical of you. Just sayin’.

    • Phil Steinacker

      You are conflating infallibility with ex cathedra as if they are the same. There is only one single instance of a pope speaking ex cathedra since the Vatican I Council’s new required conditions for an ex cathedra statement. Theologians are divided over the number, but it is mostly believed that there are 4-6 instances prior to t Vatican I in which a pope effectively spoke ex cathedra even though he didn’t use the phrase outright.

      Overall, though, the point is that ex cathedra pronouncements are not common at all.

      OTOH, there is much in Church teaching (the ordinary Magisterium) which IS infallible. When a pope re-states something already known as infallible teaching in the Magisterium, it is not necessary for him to speak ex cathedra; it is already infallible outside his authority to invoke papal infallibility.

    • Something I forgot to add to my post: then why did Jesus say He didn’t know when the end of the world would be? Was He lying? Or could there be aspects of the hypostatic union that we humans aren’t privy to?

    • Howard

      Which is more surprising — a child who knows more than might be expected (but how are you supposed to know what he knows?) or a child who never misbehaves?

      As for the rest, I think you need to get a good Catholic Bible commentary, by which I certainly don’t mean the “Catholic Study Bible” put out with the NAB. For good, free, online ones, take a look at the Catena Aurea, which covers only the four gospels, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary. You can go to either of these to see the Catholic understanding of Matthew 24:36.

    • Phil Steinacker

      Pure speculation, which has no place. The Bible is clear on telling us what is salient: he gently rebuked his parents for not using their heads to realize where he would be. Given the instances where Jesus models certain behaviors and virtues to us (His baptism as a necessary path to the Father or “Father, forgive them”), the Bible is quite clear.

      No need to go making things up to defend presumption to make a point on the part of the pope. That move has backfired, by lessening the credibility of the pope as an authority on Scripture in the eyes of those Catholics whose study of the Bible positions them to know better.

      Interestingly, I have long encountered progressive Catholics caterwauling that they’re products of modern education with advanced degrees, and therefore are not the dumb peasants once ruled by over-bearing know-it-all bishops of the Middle Ages (ooops! I forgot…you guys like to call it the Dark Ages). We do not need to pay attention to “obvious” falsehoods spoken by the bishops because we’re not ignorant as they think.

      Now it’s so much fun for traditionalists and even conservatives to observe how suddenly progressive Catholics have discovered the joys of ultramontanism, now that the shoe is on the other foot.

      You’re busted, as is your comrade, OutsideTheGate!

    • Why did Jesus say He didn’t know when the end of the world would be?

      And if it’s possible, try to answer this with humility.

    • And maybe you can answer this: how Jesus grew in age, and wisdom and grace before God and man, if He was “already there”. I still find it interesting that the Bible and the Church teach that Jesus was fully God and fully man, but to even suggest that Jesus, in His humanity, grew up normally is somehow “Montanist”.

      Did Jesus nurse at Mary’s breast? Have to get His diaper changed? Learn how to eat? Walk? After a hard day’s work on a construction site, did He smell? Have to take a bath? Did He ever hit His thumb with a hammer? Stub His toe? Or have these questions suddenly become verbotem?

  • OutsideTheGate

    It’s amazing how the very people who immediately rushed to Pope Benedict’s defence, whenever he seemed to misspeak in the slightest, are just as zealous in looking out for every opportunity to nit-pick at anything Pope Francis says, even down to their constant use of ‘Holy Father’ for Benedict, and just ‘Francis’, for our Holy Father.

    Yes. That’s people for you. But it’s also those most vociferous in claiming they’re representatives of the Only True Way™ in Catholicism. They’re actually as Modernist as the Modernist they hate who sits next to them in the Pew. Modernism isn’t a set of beliefs – content – but a way of looking at the world: the one I’ve just outlined, as it’s more the fruit of the mindset of Luther and Descartes, than anything Catholic.

    • Ronky

      Would you please give us an example/s of these supposed “misspeak” events by Benedict XVI? I have followed his speeches closely and am not aware of any. Even by German standards, he was always extremely precise and careful in what he said to make sure that it was EXACTLY what he meant and that it was totally in conformance with Catholic doctrine and that it was unable to be inadvertently misinterpreted.
      Much as I love Pope Francis, his style of speech veers towards the exact opposite, even by Latin American standards.

    • OutsideTheGate

      His comments on contraception in ‘Light to the World’.
      But my point is not the misspeaking by Benedict, but the way he was interpreted by the media if it went against the narrative pro-Benedict supporters wanted to portray: they’d jump to his defence. With Pope Francis, they jump on him where the journalists jump on him: again to defend their own narrative. In other words both Pope’s are pawns in the game of the metanarrative of the ‘Only True Way’, and the degree they happen to fit that metanarrative are they acceptable. Benedict happened to me congenial to that agenda, rather than the other way round (which it should be).

    • Phil Steinacker

      Your whole narrative is entirely false from the start.

      For example, Pope Francis brings this onto himself. Grow up and cease making things up (calling Benedict “Holy Father” while calling by his first name, sans “pope.”

      Using the first name only for a pope began with Paul VI to a limited extent, and blossomed under John Paul II. By your obvious distortions of fact in making that argument, you provide no reason to respect the rest of your nonsense.

      What about “His comments on contraception in ‘Light to the World’
      ?” You said nothing of substance, and at this point, I doubt you can muster anything but your own opinion.

      You write like a progressive, even using the phrase “the Only True Way.” that reveals who you are because only progressives are hung up on insisting that there can be more than one true way to be a Catholic when, of course, that has been a lie from the start.

    • Micha_Elyi

      His comments on contraception in ‘Light to the World’.

      –OutsideTheGate

      Don’t be shy. Quote these comments and in context, please. (Pro tip: waving your hand toward some document not before us does not answer the request “please give us an example”.)

    • Tweck

      Ad hominem attack.

    • Tweck

      Your argument is a long rambling ad hominem attack. OTG is correct that people disrespect Pope Francis while referring to the Pope Emeritus as Pope or Holy Father. They look for any way to twist his words and call him heretic or antipope, while pretending that Benedict XVI is still Pope. They do this primarily because they are politically right-wing and are angry that the Pope expresses the fullness of Catholicism and challenges people to be Catholic first, and Republicans second.

      People resort to ad hominem attacks when they are arguing against truth.

    • Bendys

      And what is the fullness of Catholicism as expressed by pope Francis ?