Actions deemed acceptable in the past are a mortal sin now, says Pope Francis

May 13, 2017

Pope Francis’ morning homily in Santa Marta, by Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit, 11 May 2017

Salvation, Francis explained, has a great and a long history during which the Lord “guided his people in good and in bad moments, in times of freedom and of slavery,” in a journey “populated by saints and by sinners on the road towards fullness, towards the encounter with the Lord.”

While noting that at the end of the journey is Jesus, the Holy Father noted, “it doesn’t end there,” because Jesus gave us the Spirit who allows us to “remember and to understand Jesus’ message.”

A second journey therefore begins, he highlighted, namely that “to understand, to deepen our understanding of Jesus and to deepen our faith,” which is needed “to understand moral teaching, the Commandments.”

He went on to observe that some things “once seemed normal and not sinful, are today conceived as mortal sins.”

“Think of slavery: at school they told us what they did with the slaves taking them from one place and selling them in another.” He said that in the past, some deemed it acceptable because people believed that some did not have a soul, but today we believe “it’s a mortal sin.”

Francis lamented that today, in substance, there are certainly still slaves, though “we know that to enslave someone is to commit a mortal sin.”

The death penalty too, he said “was considered [a] normality,” but today, we say that it is unacceptable. The wars of religions too, he noted, could fall into this category.

Hidden Saints

As we go ahead deepening our faith and clarifying the dictates of morality, the Pope said, “there are saints, the saints we all know, as well as the hidden saints.”

Noting the Church is full of hidden saints, the Holy Father noted that their holiness “will lead us to the ‘second fullness’ when the Lord will ultimately come.”

“The people of God,” Francis said, “are always on their way,” and if they stop, “they become like prisoners in a stable, like donkeys.” If that’s the case, they cannot understand, go forward, deepen their faith, and love and faith do not purify their souls.

Our Fullness

The third ‘fullness’ of our time, Francis said, is ‘ours.’

“Each of us,” the Pope explained, “is on the way to the fullness of our own time. Each of us will reach the moment in which life ends and there we must find the Lord. Each of us is on the go,” and Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to guide our way.

Francis reminded of the importance of going to Confession as we make this journey. He invited faithful to ask themselves whether during confession, there is not only the shame for having sinned, but also the understanding that in that moment they are taking a “step forward on the way to the fullness of times.”

“To ask God for forgiveness is not something automatic,” Francis acknowledged, saying, “It means that I understand that I am on a journey, part of a people that are on a journey,” and that eventually “I will find myself face-to-face with God, who never leaves us alone, but always accompanies.”

Pope Francis concluded, pointing out that this “is the great work of God’s mercy.