Pope Francis: “I want to insist as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin because it puts an end to an innocent life.”
CHR Comment: The story also includes the closing of the cathedral doors that were symbolically opened for a year of jubilee mercy. The pope’s statement also includes a good example of the Roman Catholic views on repentance in distinction from that traditionally proclaimed by Protestant denominations.
Source: Pope Francis allows priests to absolve ‘grave sin’ of abortion
In a groundbreaking statement about homosexuality, Pope Francis says Christians and the Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people and others they have offended or treated poorly in the past.
CHR Comment: This article seems biased or poorly written. For example, the headline suggests that the Pope was speaking for all Christians. The actual quotation from Francis in the article speaks on behalf of Roman Catholicism and the doctrine in its official catechism. One also wonders about the description of Francis’s statement in 2013; as stated in the article, it might be interpreted to imply that God created human beings with a predisposition toward homosexuality, which would conflict with Catholic teaching about the purposes of marriage and family.
Source: Pope Francis says Christians should apologize to gay people
Pope Francis lays out his case for emphasizing the merciful face of the Catholic Church in his first book as pontiff, saying God never tires of forgiving and actually prefers the sinners who repent over self-righteous moralizers who don’t.
CHR Comment: Based on reviews, Pope Francis is clear that he believes God is merciful and that Christians should also be merciful. However, the book is not clear on another point of doctrine that is essential to that emphasis. It does not provide clear answers about sin, or at least about certain controversial topics. If the doctrine of sin remains unclear, then the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness remains unclear. If forgiveness is unclear, people may be left in self-righteousness or uncertainty and the result is not mercy but malaise. More to come on all this, to be sure.
The second review posted below includes some direct quotations of the book. His comments on the issues of corruption are most interesting.
Source: Francis lays out case for mercy in 1st book as pope – The Washington Post
USA Today Review with Quotations
In an ‘astounding admission,’ global church leaders repent for past abuse of other denominations.
CHR Comment: In November 2015, the Global Christian Forum met in Albania, hosting 145 representatives from the World Evangelical Alliance, Pentecostal World Fellowship, the Vatican, and the World Council of Churches. The theme of the conference was “Following Christ Together,” which sought to foster greater ecumenical cooperation during these difficult times of persecution. A press release from the meeting acknowledged that Christians persecuted one another as well as other religious persons. Forgiveness is the doctrine and practice by which the church stands or fails.
The article linked below also summarizes a litany of stories about Christians apologizing to other Christians for persecution and other offenses. Most of the stories are from 2015, though the Pope’s apology to Pentecostals is from 2014.
Source: The Biggest Apology for Christian Persecution of Other Christ… | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com
The question of forgiving someone who did not ask for forgiveness was raised by the recent shooting at Emanuel AME Church. We have the example of St. Stephen who prayed of those killing him, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” We likewise have the example of Jesus praying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Charleston shooting: Emanuel AME holds Bible study – CNN.com.
Jerry Newcombe, author of The Book that Made America, writes about our need for atonement and the Jewish aspects of Good Friday. Agnus Dei: The Jewish Messiah.