Some folks appear to be losing their minds over words from Pope Francis this week.
Here is a story from the best web site I know that writes about the intersection of religion and journalism. It basically says that Francis is Catholic.
Comments make two good points.
One, Catholics don’t jumble together the words redemption, salvation, justification, and sanctification the way we Protestants often do.
Two, the big deal was really more about an internal Catholic debate over what we would call limited vs. unlimited atonement.
Taking the angle of internal Catholic disagreement, it is more to do with refuting Jansenism, that is, the idea that Christ only died for pro multos (“for many”, not “for all”, which is a controversial phrase for some in the translation of the Mass).
In other words, the death of Christ only redeemed a certain portion of humanity, those chosen beforehand to be redeemed (the elect, more or less) and involves double predestination. To symbolise this, Jansenist crucifixes position the arms of Christ upwards or upright, to denote that only some are included, rather than opened on the cross in the traditional manner to denote that all are redeemed by the deah of Christ.
Pope Francis is reiterating the idea of the natural law (think of the Jewish concept of the Noahide Laws) which ‘is written on the human heart’ and constrains all humans, whether or not they have received news of the Gospel. Atheists, other religions, everyone – we are bound to do certain things and refrain from others due to the fact of our humanity. The duty to do good is one of them – this is not ‘buying your way into heaven by good deeds’, it is not the same as salvation, but it is fulfilling one of the ends for which we were created.