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Pope Accused of Spouting Pelagianism in CBS Interview

Updated: May 25

Francis slams antisemitism, issues apocalyptic warning on climate change

Faithful Catholics are accusing Pope Francis of spouting the heresy of Pelagianism in his latest interview with CBS 60 Minutes, which aired on the American network on Sunday.


“People are fundamentally good. We are all fundamentally good. Yes, there are some rogues and sinners, but the heart itself is good,” Francis, said during an extended interview, in which he defended his recent declaration calling for the blessings of same-sex couples.


Catholics and Protestants on social media attacked the pontiff’s emphasis on the fundamental goodness of human nature by citing the prophet Jeremiah who warns that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”


Others quoted Jesus’ admonition to the rich young ruler: “No one is good except God alone” and the Apostle Paul’s words from his epistle to the Romans: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God … no one does good, not even one.”


The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how “Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example.”


Francis did not clarify the distinction between man’s goodness when he was created by God before the Fall and the Catholic doctrine that all human beings are born with Original Sin after the Fall.


Instead, by drawing a non-biblical distinction between most of humanity and “some rogues and sinners,” the pontiff seemed to be downplaying the Pauline truth that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” commentors on social media pointed out.


"If this is true, we don't need a Savior to die on the Cross. So this pope is a heretic," wrote author Eric Metaxas.


“This raises a question: Is the Pope Catholic? Apparently not! The minute he saw an American journalist nodding at him, he should have known he had gone astray,” Daily Wire host Andrew Klavan, a convert to Catholicism, posted on X.


“Francis says ‘people are fundamentally good.’ ‘There are some sinners.’ ‘The heart itself is good.’ This is humanism,” tweeted Protestant apologist Dr. James White.  


“It is not Romans, it is not Galatians, it is not Jeremiah or Isaiah or Proverbs or Psalms or Genesis or Revelation. It is humanism,” White stressed. “And before you jump on me: the majority of so-called Protestants are just as much in error as Francis.”

Asked to comment on the accusations of Israel committing "genocide" in Gaza, the pontiff said he keeps in touch every day with Catholics in Gaza.


“Every evening at 7, I call the parish of Gaza. There are 600 people there and they tell me about what happens. It is very tough, very tough. The food arrives and people rush to get it," he lamented.  


Francis condemned the growing anti-Semitic protests on college campuses, explaining:

“All ideology is bad whether it is from the right the center or the left. An ideology is not an idea. No, it is something worse and anti-Semitism is an ideology, and it is bad.


“Any 'anti' is always bad, so these postures of persecution, of condemning outright are no good at all. You can criticize one government or another. I don't know … the government of Israel, the Palestinian government, you can criticize all you want but not anti a people, not Palestinians, not Jews," the pope emphasized.


Defending Fiducia Supplicans, his declaration permitting priests to bless same-sex couples, Francis said the blessing was not for “couples,” but for the individuals in a relationship.


“The blessing is for everyone, for everyone,” he said. “To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why?”

When asked how he would respond to “conservative bishops” in the United States who oppose his “new efforts to revisit teachings and traditions,” the pope said he regarded a conservative as “one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”


“It is a suicidal attitude. Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box,” the pope warned.


Francis urged American politicians to consider open borders and embrace forgiveness toward migrants illegally entering the country. “That is madness. Sheer madness,” Francis said. “To close the border and leave them there, that is madness.”


“Migration is something that makes a country grow,” he remarked. “They say that you Irish migrated and brought the whiskey, and that the Italians migrated and brought the mafia. Migrants sometimes suffer a lot. They suffer a lot.”


“I’m just as happy he didn’t get around to whatever stereotypical image he had of Jewish and Polish immigrants even while painting the Irish as drunks and Italians as the mob,” columnist Daniel Greenfield quipped, responding to Francis’ comments.


The pontiff refused to compromise on surrogacy, even when interviewer Norah O'Donnell suggested it was the “only hope” for “women who are cancer survivors who cannot bear children.”


“In regard to surrogate motherhood, in the strictest sense of the term, no, it is not authorized. Sometimes surrogacy has become a business, and that is very bad. It is very bad,” Francis insisted, urging such women to adopt children rather than choose surrogacy.


Pressed by O’Donnell as to whether a female diaconate was “something you’re open to,” Francis replied: “If it is deacons with holy orders, no.”


“But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right?” he said. “Women are of great service as women, not as ministers, as ministers in this regard, within the holy orders.”


Catholics criticized CBS for not grilling Francis on why his friend and ex-Jesuit confrere Fr. Ivan Marko Rupnik has not yet been disciplined even though he has been credibly accused of sexually abusing at least 25 nuns.


In response to a generic question about clerical sex abuse, the pope admitted that “the tragedy of the abuses is enormous.”


“And against this, an upright conscience and not only to not permit it but to put in place the conditions so that it does not happen,” he maintained.

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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