“There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church. It relates us to Judaism and Islam, both of which consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes”

When reading the Holy Scriptures, people with limited vision could conclude that, in the Old Testament, God was strictly justice: He seems to be an almighty God who made Sinai quake (Ex 19:18), who opened the earth to swallow up the rebels (Num 16: 1–35), a God of vengeance (Ps 94:1) who struck Uzzah dead for having touched the Ark of the Covenant to steady it (2Sam 6: 1–9).

And when, on the other hand, the New Testament is considered, it seems to highlight only the God of mercy, goodness and patience… Such readers only find room for the pleasant pages of the Gospel where Jesus cures lepers, the blind and the paralytics, and pardons sinners. And, quite naturally, they are always mindful of Jesus’ most extraordinary parable: that of the prodigal son.

It is actually perfectly understandable that the contemplation of God’s mercy be, in fact, the most agreeable. In the depths of our miseries, how many times don’t we ourselves feel like the prodigal son who abandoned his Father in pursuit of worldly pleasures? And how often haven’t we been moved in recalling our own returned to the Father, in confessing our sins and feeling the warm embrace of his pardon after having strayed from the straight and narrow path? But the fact that these memories please us does not justify a strictly one-dimensional vision of God: vingative in the Old Testament and merciful in the New.

After all, the Old Testament also contains passages demonstrating goodness, mercy and pardon. And the New Testament likewise conveys scenes of justice and even righteous anger. We must not overlook Jesus’ dialogues with the Pharisees, nor, even less, his expulsion of the money changers from the Temple! We cannot divide or fragment God, reducing him to our own limited size. He is both justice and mercy, and these attributes may not be disassociated in him.

According to the Angelic Doctor, God’s justice is true in that it gives each being that which corresponds to its dignity, and keeps the nature of each being in its rightful place and with its rightful powers (Summa Theologica, I, q.21, a.1). Moreover, ‘the work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy; and is founded thereupon. […] So in every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears mercy’ (Summa Theological I, q. 21, a.4). Even ‘in the damnation of the reprobate mercy is seen, which, though it does not totally remit, yet somewhat alleviates, in punishing short of what is deserved’ (Summa Theologica I, q.21, a.4, ad 1). And ‘justice and mercy appear in the punishment of the just in this world, since by afflictions lesser faults are cleansed in them, and they are the more raised up from earthly affections to God’ (Summa Theologica I, q. 21, a.4, ad 3).

And so, what is mercy? Etymologically speaking, ‘Mercy comes from the Latin [misericors], formed from miser (miserable, unfortunate) and cor, cordis (heart). This word refers to the capacity of feeling the misfortune of others.’ In Saint Augustine’s beautiful terms: ‘What is compassion but a fellow-feeling for another’s misery, which prompts us to help him if we can? And this emotion is obedient to reason, when compassion is shown without violating right, as when the poor are relieved, or the penitent forgiven’ (City of God, IX, 5).

God is mercy, He has compassion for the true miserables and unfortunates – the sinners; He takes no pleasure in the death of a wicked man, but rather in his conversion, that he may live (Ezek 33:11). Therefore, for an individual to be the object of God’s mercy, repentance is of the essence, along with the desire to never offend him again, which implies a true change of life.

Mercy is infinite in God, as everything in him is infinite, but those sinners who fail to acknowledge it, and who do not want to follow the truths that He left us, but turn their backs on him by their lives, create their own obstacles to God’s mercy. In this way they heap the coals of God’s justice upon themselves. For this life or in the next…

Francis

There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church. It relates us to Judaism and Islam, both of which consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes. Israel was the first to receive this revelation which continues in history as the source of an inexhaustible richness meant to be shared with all mankind. As we have seen, the pages of the Old Testament are steeped in mercy, because they narrate the works that the Lord performed in favour of his people at the most trying moments of their history. Among the privileged names that Islam attributes to the Creator are “Merciful and Kind”. This invocation is often on the lips of faithful Muslims who feel themselves accompanied and sustained by mercy in their daily weakness. They too believe that no one can place a limit on divine mercy because its doors are always open.

I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination. (Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, no. 23, April 11, 2015)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of contents

I – God is mercy, but He is also justice. In God, these two attributes do not contradict each other
II – The Alliance of mercy with the chosen people is the inheritance of the Catholic Church. God awaits the conversion of the Jewish people
III – True love for our neighbor does not exclude hatred for sin and impiety
IV – Who is the “merciful and kind” Allah?
V – What is the principal objective of the Jubilee Year? Religious syncretism or sincere conversion?


I – God is mercy, but He is also justice. In God, these two attributes do not contradict each other


Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Let us not indulge ourselves in a season of mercy, saying, God spares ever…
– In God, neither does justice exclude mercy, nor does mercy hinder justice
– We, in our perversity, would like God to be so merciful, that He would be unjust

Pius IX
– In heaven we shall understand how close the bond between divine mercy and justice is

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– God’s mercy does not reach those who render themselves unworthy of it

Saint Gregory the Great
– The stubborn and impenitent sinner stores up the wrath of God for himself
– God chastises with greater severity those whom he has tolerated longer

John Paul II
– God is a just judge, who rewards good and punishes evil

Catechism of Trent
– Those who knowingly grieve the Holy Spirit recover the friendship of God in a different manner than those who sinned through ignorance

Benedict XVI
– Love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner
– Even when God’s plans pass through punishment, they aim at an outcome of mercy

John Paul II
– God’s punishment makes deaf sinners turn back to the right path

John Paul I
– The truths of faith are of two kinds; some pleasant, others unpalatable to our spirit

Pius XII
– It is always an active love that guides the chastisements of God

Pius XI
– The power to judge, which the Father granted the Son, also includes the power to confer rewards and punishments upon men while still living

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
– God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful – to bear with those who avail themselves of His mercy to offend Him, would not be mercy, but injustice


II – The Alliance of mercy with the chosen people is the inheritance of the Catholic Church. What God awaits the Jewish people: conversion


Sacred Scripture
– Saint Peter to the Israelites: ‘Repent and be converted’
– The Old Covenant with the chosen people was substituted by the New Alliance
– Christ declares the first regime abolished and establishes the second
– The New Alliance has much more glory than the former, and endures forever

Pius XII
– By the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law

Council of Florence (Ecumenical XVII)
– All who observe requirements of the Old Law are not fit to participate in eternal salvation

Benedict XIV
– The ceremonies of the Mosaic Law can no longer be observed without sin

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Ever since Christ’s Passion it is a mortal sin to observe the ceremonies of the old rites
– The judicial precepts of the Old Law were annulled by the coming of Christ

Council of Florence (Ecumenical XVII)
– Outside of the Church, not only pagans, but also Jews cannot become participants in eternal life

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– We should invite the Jews to conversion; resisting it they continue sinners

Saint John Chrysostom
– The Jews will be saved neither by circumcision nor by sacrifices, but only by baptism
– They are beloved because of their ancestors, but whose virtue has no influence on them if they do not believe

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
– Prayer for the Jews is not useless…that they be converted!

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– Because the Old Testament was imperfect, a New Testament is promised to them

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– In failing to recognize in Jesus Christ, the Jews are blind and sick


III – True love for our neighbor does not exclude hatred for sin and impiety


Saint Thomas Aquinas
– We must love our neighbor with justice and holiness; we must not love him above God, by doing so God is lost
– To love one’s neighbor is to hate his sin and wish him to be good
– It is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner; and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss
– To overlook wrongs inflicted on God by sinners is most wicked

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– No sinner is to be loved as a sinner


IV – Who is the “merciful and kind” Allah?


Benedict XVI
– According to Islam, nothing would oblige Allah to reveal the truth

Saint John Damascene
– Allah permitted polygamy and concubinage
– Allah recommends adultery

Koran
– Allah hates all of those who do not practice Islam
– ‘There is life for you in retaliation’
– Keep your duty to Allah to be successful
– ‘Kill them and drive them out!’
– ‘Fighting is enjoined on you’
– ‘Whom Allah cursed will not find a helper for him’
– ‘Whomsoever Allah leaves in error thou canst not find a way for him’
– ‘Allah is Severe in requiting’
– ‘Slay! Allah is merciful…’
– Allah cannot be questioned as to what he does


V – What is the principal objective of the Jubilee Year? Religious syncretism or sincere conversion?


Pius XI
– The Holy Year attracts those who have the aim of expiating their sins

John Paul II
– The gift of indulgences does not reach us without our acceptance and response
– Indulgences, far from being a sort of “discount” on the duty of conversion, are instead an aid to its prompt, generous and radical fulfillment
– To live the Holy Year well we must be reconciled with God
– The Jubilee Year is a time of deep conversion
– The purpose of the Jubilee is to encourage holiness of life

Paul VI
– “Renewal” and “reconciliation” remain the key words for the Holy Year

John Paul II
– The Holy Year is a time when we are called to conversion
– Repentance is necessary to participate in the grace of Redemption
– The Holy Year is a time of purification

Apostolic Penitentiary
– The whole Jubilee journey has as its starting point and its conclusion the celebration of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist


I – God is mercy, but He is also justice. In God, these two attributes do not contradict each other


Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • Let us not indulge ourselves in a season of mercy, saying, God spares forever…

Now hear the season of judgment; you have heard the season of mercy, on which account, mercy and judgment will I sing unto You, O Lord: But you, says the Apostle, after your hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds. […] Since therefore, brethren, we have a season of mercy, let us not on that account flatter, or indulge ourselves, saying, God spares ever…. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Commentary on Psalm 101, no. 2)

  • In God, neither does justice exclude mercy, nor does mercy hinder justice

Thus it is shown that the God of Israel, the true God who made heaven and earth, and who administers human affairs justly and mercifully in such wise that neither does justice exclude mercy with Him, nor does mercy hinder justice […] (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Harmony of the Gospels, I, XIV, 21)

  • We, in our perversity, would like God to be so merciful, that He would be unjust

My brethren, pay attention to all that I will say to you now. I do not wish to speak of the past. Change your life from today; may tomorrow find you converted. We, in our perversity, would like God to be so merciful, that He would be unjust. Others, on the contrary, confiding greatly in their own justice, would like Him to be so just as to not be merciful. God, however, manifests himself in both; He shines in both: neither does his mercy determine his justice, nor does his justice eliminate his mercy. He is merciful and just. Where do we have the proof that He is merciful? From the fact that He pardons the sinners now, and He grants pardon to those who repent. Where do we have the proof that He is just? From the fact that the day of judgement will come, which though momentarily deferred, is not excluded. When it arrives, He will give to each according to his merits. Or do you by chance wish Him to give to those who are his enemies what He will give to those who converted to Him? Brethren, do you think it just that Judas be put in the same place as Peter? Even judas would have been there with Peter if he had corrected himself. But losing hope of obtaining pardon, he preferred to hang himself instead of begging clemency of the king. Therefore, brethren — as I had started saying — there is no reason to reproach God for anything. When He comes to judge, there will be nothing that we may claim against Him. May each one think of his sins, and correct them now, while there is still time. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. Commentary on Psalm 67, 3, no. 5-6)

Pius IX

  • In heaven we shall understand how close the bond between divine mercy and justice is

For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains “we shall see God as He is” [1 John 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united. (Pius IX. Allocution singulari quadam, December 9, 1854)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • God’s mercy does not reach those who render themselves unworthy of it

God, for His own part, has mercy on all. Since, however, His mercy is ruled by the order of His wisdom, the result is that it does not reach to certain people who render themselves unworthy of that mercy, as do the demons and the damned who are obstinate in wickedness. And yet we may say that even in them His mercy finds a place, in so far as they are punished less than they deserve condignly, but not that they are entirely delivered from punishment. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica Supplement, q. 99, a.2, ad. 1)

Saint Gregory the Great

  • The stubborn and impenitent sinner stores up the wrath of God for himself

Consider, dear brethren, that the mercy of God does not allow any excuse for our resistance. Man has no excuse before God. We despise God, and He awaits our conversion; He sees that we despise him, and yet calls us again; He bears the injuries of our scorn, and despite this, He sometimes even promises rewards to those who return to Him. May none of us despise his longanimity, because he will be severe on the day of judgement, in the same measure as He extended his patience before the judgement. For, thence, Saint Paul affirms: Are you “unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance? By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his work’(rom 2:4-5). (Saint Gregory the Great. Homily on the Gospel, XIII)

  • God chastises with greater severity those whom he has tolerated longer

He who tolerates the sins of wrongdoers for a long time, is sure to demand a strict account. It is thus said from the mouth of Ecclesiastes: ‘The Most High is a patient retributer” (Sir 5:4). He is called a patient retributer, because he suffers and tolerates the sins of men, and afterward pays according to what is deserved; for he chastises with greater severity those whom he has tolerated longer time so that they convert. (Gregory I, the Great. Homily on the Gospels, XIII)

John Paul II

  • God is a just judge, who rewards good and punishes evil

Corresponding to the moral evil of sin is punishment, which guarantees the moral order in the same transcendent sense in which this order is laid down by the will of the Creator and Supreme Lawgiver. From this there also derives one of the fundamental truths of religious faith, equally based upon Revelation, namely that God is a just judge, who rewards good and punishes evil. (John Paul II. Apostolic letter Salvifici doloris, no. 10, February 11, 1984)

Catechism of Trent

  • Those who knowingly grieve the Holy Spirit recover the friendship of God in a different manner than those who sinned through ignorance

Divine justice seems to require that they who through ignorance sinned before Baptism, should recover the friendship of God in a different manner from those who, after they have been freed from the thralldom, of sin and the devil and have received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, dread not knowingly to violate the temple of God and grieve the Holy Spirit. It is also in keeping with the divine mercy not to remit our sins without any satisfaction, lest, taking occasion hence, and imagining our sins less grievous than they are, we should become injurious, as it were, and contumelious to the Holy Ghost, and should fall into greater enormities, treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath. (Catechism of Trent, 2400)

Benedict XVI

  • Love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner

The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love: she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd hardening of the mind, even in very good people. Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and the need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth. And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love. (Benedict XVI. Light of the world. The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. A Conversation with Peter Seewald, pg. 17)

  • Even when God’s plans pass through punishment, they aim at an outcome of mercy

In the text we have heard, the anger and mercy of the Lord alternate in a dramatic sequence, but love triumphs in the end, for God is love. How can we fail to grasp from the memory of those distant events a message valid for all times, including our own? In thinking of the past centuries, we can see that God continues to love us even when he punishes us. Even when God’s plans pass through trial and punishment, they always aim at an outcome of mercy and forgiveness. (Benedict XVI. Homily for the IV Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2006)

John Paul II

  • God’s punishment makes deaf sinners turn back to the right path

God’s punishment is a way to make sinners who are deaf to other appeals turn back to the right path. However, the last word of the righteous God remains a message of love and of forgiveness; he profoundly desires to embrace anew the wayward children who return to him with a contrite heart. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 3, August 13, 2003)

John Paul I

  • The truths of faith are of two kinds; some pleasant, others unpalatable to our spirit

It is also difficult to accept some truths, because the truths of faith are of two kinds; some pleasant, others unpalatable to our spirit. For example, it is pleasant to hear that God has so much tenderness for us, even more tenderness than a mother has for her children, as Isaiah says. How pleasant and congenial it is! […] God must punish, if I resist. He runs after me, he begs me to repent and I say: “No!” I almost force him to punish me. This is not agreeable. But it is a truth of faith. (John Paul I. General audience, September 13, 1978)

Pius XII

  • It is always an active love that guides the chastisements of God

God at times lets trials befall individuals and peoples, trials of which the malice of men is the instrument in a design of justice directed towards the punishment of sin, towards purifying persons and peoples through the expiations of this present life and bringing them back by this way to Himself; but it means believing at the same time that this justice always remains here below the justice of a Father inspired and dominated by love. However severe may seem the Hand of the Divine Surgeon when he cuts with the lancet into the live flesh, it is always an active love that guides and drives it in, and only the good of men and peoples makes Him intervene in such a painful way. (Pius XII. Radio message, Divine Providence in human events, June 29, 1941)

Pius XI

  • The power to judge, which the Father granted the Son, also includes the power to confer rewards and punishments upon men

‘For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son’ (Jn 5:22); by which this also is understood — since the fact cannot be separated from the judgment — that by His own right He confers rewards and punishments upon men while still living. And furthermore that power which is called executive is to be attributed to Christ, since it is necessary that all obey His power, and since no one can escape what has been imposed upon the contumacious in the imposing of punishment. (Denzinger-Hünermann 3677. Pius XI. Encyclical Quas primas, December 11, 1925)

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

  • God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful – to bear with those who avail themselves of His mercy to offend Him, would not be mercy, but injustice

The mercy of God is different from the acts of His mercy. The former is infinite, the latter are finite. God is merciful but He is also just. Saint Basil says that sinners also consider God as merciful, and ready to pardon, but not as just and prepared to inflict punishment. Of this the Lord complained one day to Saint Bridget: ‘I am just and merciful. Sinners regard me only as merciful’. Saint Basil’s words are, ‘Sinners only consider God merciful and ready to pardon. But God is just and prepared to inflict punishment.’ God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful. Father John Avila used to say, that to bear with those who avail themselves of the mercy of God to offend him, would not be mercy, but a want of justice. Mercy, as the divine mother said, is promised to those who fear, and not to those who insult the Lord. And his mercy to them that fear him.” (Lk 1:50) (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Sermon 41 – for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost: On the abuse of divine mercy)


II – The Alliance of mercy with the chosen people is the inheritance of the Catholic Church. What God awaits the Jewish people: conversion


Sacred Scripture

  • Saint Peter to the Israelites: “Repent and be converted”

When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, (the God) of Isaac, and (the God) of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. […] Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.’ (Act 3:12–15, 19–21)

  • The Old Covenant with the chosen people was substituted by the New Alliance

Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one. But he finds fault with them and says: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they did not stand by my covenant and I ignored them, says the Lord. […] When he speaks of a ‘new’ covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing. (Heb 8:6–9,13)

  • Christ declares the first regime abolished and establishes the second

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when he came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, “As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”’ First he says, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in.’ These are offered according to the law. Then he says, ‘Behold, I come to do your will.’ He takes away the first to establish the second. (Acts 10:1–9)

  • The New Alliance has much more glory than the former, and endures forever

Our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious. (2Cor 3:5–11)

Pius XII

  • By the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law

And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area – He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the House of Israel (cf. Mt 15:24) – the Law and the Gospel were together in force (cf. S. Th., I–II, q. 103, a. 3, ad 2); but on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees (cf. Eph 2:15) fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross (Col 2:14), establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race (cf. Mt 26:28; 1Cor 11:25). ‘To such an extent, then,’ says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, ‘was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom’ (Leo the Great, Serm.,68,3). On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death, in order to give way to the New Testament of which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers (cf. 2Cor 3:6). (Pius XII. Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 29–30, June 29, 1943)

Council of Florence (Ecumenical XVII)

  • All who observe requirements of the Old Law are not fit to participate in eternal salvation

The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior […] firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally. Yet it does not deny that after the passion of Christ up to the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been observed until they were believed to be in no way necessary for salvation; but after the promulgation of the Gospel it asserts that they cannot be observed without the loss of eternal salvation. All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors. Therefore, it commands all who glory in the name of Christian, at whatever time, before or after baptism’ to cease entirely from circumcision, since, whether or not one places hope in it, it cannot be observed at all without the loss of eternal salvation. (Denzinger-Hünermann 1330.1348. Council of Florence, Bull Cantata Domino, February 4, 1442)

Benedict XIV

  • The ceremonies of the Mosaic Law can no longer be observed without sin

The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel. Since, then, the distinction made by the old Law between clean and unclean foods belongs to the ceremonial precepts, it may justly be affirmed that such a distinction no longer exists and ought not be insisted on. (Benedict XIV. Encyclical Ex quo primum, March 1, 1756)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Ever since Christ’s Passion it is a mortal sin to observe the ceremonies of the old rites

The Apostle says (Gal. 5:2): ‘If you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.’ But nothing save mortal sin hinders us from receiving Christ’s fruit. Therefore since Christ’s Passion it is a mortal sin to be circumcised, or to observe the other legal ceremonies. All ceremonies are professions of faith, in which the interior worship of God consists. Now man can make profession of his inward faith, by deeds as well as by words: and in either profession, if he make a false declaration, he sins mortally. Now, though our faith in Christ is the same as that of the fathers of old; yet, since they came before Christ, whereas we come after Him, the same faith is expressed in different words, by us and by them. […] In like manner the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer: whereas our sacraments signify Him as already born and having suffered. Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica I–II, q. 103, a. 4)

  • The judicial precepts of the Old Law were annulled by the coming of Christ

The judicial precepts did not bind for ever, but were annulled by the coming of Christ: yet not in the same way as the ceremonial precepts. For the ceremonial precepts were annulled so far as to be not only ‘dead,’ but also deadly to those who observe them since the coming of Christ, especially since the promulgation of the Gospel. On the other hand, the judicial precepts are dead indeed, because they have no binding force: but they are not deadly. For if a sovereign were to order these judicial precepts to be observed in his kingdom, he would not sin: unless perchance they were observed, or ordered to be observed, as though they derived their binding force through being institutions of the Old Law: for it would be a deadly sin to intend to observe them thus. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica I-II, q. 104, a. 1.3)

Council of Florence (Ecumenical XVII)

  • Outside of the Church, not only pagans, but also Jews cannot become participants in eternal life

It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Mt 25,41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; (Denzinger-Hünermann 1351. Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, February 4, 1442)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • We should invite the Jews to conversion; resisting it they continue sinners

Dearly beloved, whether the Jews receive these divine testimonies with joy or with indignation, nevertheless, when we can, let us proclaim them with great love for the Jews. Let us not proudly glory against the broken branches; let us rather reflect by whose grace it is, and by much mercy, and on what root, we have been ingrafted. Then, not savoring of pride, but with a deep sense of humility, not insulting with presumption, but rejoicing with trembling, let us say: ‘Come you and let us walk in the light of the Lord,’ because His ‘name is great among the Gentiles.’ If they hear Him and obey Him, they will be among them to whom Scripture says: ‘Come you to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded.’ If, however, they hear and do not obey, if they see and are jealous, they are among them of whom the psalm says: ‘The wicked shall see, and shall be angry, he shall gnash with his teeth and pine away.’ (Saint Augustine of Hippo. In Answer to the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), 10, 15)

Saint John Chrysostom

  • The Jews will be saved neither by circumcision nor by sacrifices, but only by baptism

‘For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.’ Not when they are circumcised, not when they sacrifice, not when they do the other deeds of the Law, but when they attain to the forgiveness of sins. If then this has been promised, but has never yet happened in their case, nor have they ever enjoyed the remission of sins by baptism, certainly it will come to pass. Hence he proceeds, ‘For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.’ (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily19 on the the Letter to the Romans, ver. 27)

  • They are beloved because of their ancestors, but whose virtue has no influence on them if they do not believe

Nevertheless God has not even now cut short the calling of you, but He waits for all the Gentiles that are to believe to come in, and then they also shall come. Then he does them another kind favor, by saying, ‘As touching election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.’ And what is this? For wherein they are enemies, punishment is theirs: but wherein they are beloved, the virtue of their ancestors has no influence on them, if they do not believe. (Saint John Chrysostom. Homily 19 on Romans, ver. 28)

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

  • Prayer for the Jews is not useless…that they be converted!

Does the Church not progress more steadily by convincing the Jews of their errors and converting them to the faith, than if the latter were exterminated suddenly by a general massacre? Do you think the universal prayer of the Church ‘from the rising of the sun to its setting’ for the perfidious Jews – so that the Lord God tear the veil from their hearts and have them go from their darkness to the light of truth – was randomly established? If one believed that the incredulous could not believe, it would be ‘useless and ridiculous to pray for them.’ But with the eyes of mercy, consider that the Lord is compassionate toward them and repays their wickedness with goodness, and their hatred with love. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Letter 365, no. 2)

Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • Because the Old Testament was imperfect, a New Testament is promised to them

Thirdly, he shows the manner of salvation when he says: And this will be my covenant with them, a new one from me, when I take away their sins. For the old covenant did not remove sins, because “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb 10:4). Therefore, because the Old Testament was imperfect, a new testament is promised to them […] (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Ch. 11, 25–32, no. 920)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • In failing to recognize in Jesus Christ, the Jews are blind and sick

When these Scriptural words are quoted to the Jews, they scorn the Gospel and the Apostle; they do not listen to what we say because they do not understand what they read. Certainly, if they understood what the Prophet, whom they read, is foretelling: ‘I have given you to be the light of the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth’ they would not be so blind and so sick as not to recognize in Jesus Christ both light and salvation. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. In Answer to the Jews (Adversus Judaeos), 1,2)


III – True love for our neighbor does not exclude hatred for sin and impiety


Saint Thomas Aquinas

  • We must love our neighbor with justice and holiness; we must not love him above God, by doing so God is lost

So “Love your neighbor as yourself.” […] Regarding this, there are five points we must observe in loving our neighbor: The first is that we must love him really as ourselves. We do this if we love him for his own sake, not because of our own interest. Here recall that there are three kinds of love. The first is utilitarian […] It vanishes when the advantage vanishes. In that case we do not wish good for our neighbor, but rather our own advantage. There is another love directed at what is pleasurable. This too is not true love, because when the pleasure vanishes it vanishes. In that case we do not wish good primarily for our neighbor, but rather we want his good for ourselves. The third kind of love is for the sake of virtue, and only that is true love. For then we do not love our neighbor in view of our own good, but for his own good. […] The second point is that we must love ordinately, that is, we must not love him above God or as much as God, but along with him in the way you must love yourself (Sg 2:4 Vulg.): “He ordered love in me.” The Lord taught this order (Mt 10:37): “Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter above me is not worthy of me.” […] The fifth point is that we must love with justice and holiness, so that we do not love to bring him to sin, because you should not love yourself that way, since by doing so you lose God. Thus it is said (Jn 15:9): “Remain in my love.” This is the love spoken of (Sir 24:24 Vulg.): “I am the mother of beautiful love.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Ten Commandments, Article 2)

  • To love one’s neighbor is to hate his sin and wish him to be good

We must be aware, however, of texts to the contrary. For the saints hated some people (Ps 138:22): “I hated them with perfect hatred.” And in the Gospel (Lk 14:26): “If anyone does not hate his father and mother and wife and sons and brothers and sisters, even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.” We should realize that in all that we do, what Christ did should be our example. For God loves and hates. In any man two things should be considered: his nature and the wrong. What is of nature in man should be loved, what is wrong should be hated. So if anyone wished a person to be in hell, he would be hating his nature, but if he wished him to be good, he would be hating the sin, which should always be hated (Ps 5:7): “You hate all who do evil.” And (Wis 11:25), “Lord, you love all that exists, and hate nothing which you have made.” See, then, what God loves and hates: He loves what is of nature and hates what is wrong. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Ten Commandments, Article 2)

  • It is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner; and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss

Two things may be considered in the sinner: his nature and his guilt. According to his nature, which he has from God, he has a capacity for happiness, on the fellowship of which charity is based, as stated above (a. 3; q. 23, a.1,5), wherefore we ought to love sinners, out of charity, in respect of their nature. On the other hand their guilt is opposed to God, and is an obstacle to happiness. Wherefore, in respect of their guilt whereby they are opposed to God, all sinners are to be hated, even one’s father or mother or kindred, according to Lk. 12:26. For it is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner, and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss; and this is to love him truly, out of charity, for God’s sake. (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica II-II, q. 25, a. 6)

  • To overlook wrongs inflicted on God by sinners is most wicked

The good bear with the wicked by enduring patiently, and in due manner, the wrongs they themselves receive from them: but they do not bear with them as to endure the wrongs they inflict on God and their neighbor. For Chrysostom [cf. Opus Imperfectum, Hom. v in Matth.] says: ‘It is praiseworthy to be patient under our own wrongs, but to overlook God’s wrongs is most wicked.’ (Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica II–II, q. 108, a. 1, ad. 2)

Saint Augustine of Hippo

  • No sinner is to be loved as a sinner

Now he is a man of just and holy life who forms an unprejudiced estimate of things, and keeps his affections also under strict control, so that he neither loves what he ought not to love, nor fails to love what he ought to love, nor loves that more which ought to be loved less, nor loves that equally which ought to be loved either less or more, nor loves that less or more which ought to be loved equally. No sinner is to be loved as a sinner; and every man is to be loved as a man for God’s sake; but God is to be loved for His own sake. And if God is to be loved more than any man, each man ought to love God more than himself. (Saint Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine, Book I, ch. 27, no. 28)


IV – Who is the “merciful and kind” Allah?


Benedict XVI

  • According to Islam, nothing would oblige Allah to reveal the truth

Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s [Allah’s] will, we would even have to practise idolatry. (R. Arnaldez, Grammaire et théologie chez Ibn Hazm de Cordoue, Paris 1956, p. 13; cf. Khoury, p. 144) (Benedict XVI. Address in the University of Regensburg, September 12, 2006)

Saint John Damascene

  • Allah permitted polygamy and concubinage

As has been related, this Mohammed wrote many ridiculous books, to each one of which he set a title. For example, there is the book On Woman in which he plainly makes legal provision for taking four wives and, if it be possible, a thousand concubines as many as one can maintain, besides the four wives. He also made it legal to put away whichever wife one might wish, and, should one so wish, to take to oneself another in the same way. (Saint John Damascene. On Heresies, pg. 157)

  • Allah recommends adultery

Mohammed had a friend named Zeid. This man had a beautiful wife with whom Mohammed fell in love. Once, when they were sitting together, Mohammed said: ‘Oh, by the way, God has commanded me to take your wife’. The other answered: ‘You are an apostle. Do as God has told you and take my wife.’ Rather to tell the story over from the beginning he said to him: ‘God has given me the command that you put away your wife.’ And he put her away. Then several days later: ‘Now,’ he said, ‘God has commanded me to take her.’ Then, after he had taken her and committed adultery with her, he made this law: ‘Let him who will put away his wife. And if, after having put her away, he should return to her, let another marry her. For it is not lawful to take her unless she have been married by another. Furthermore, if a brother puts away his wife, let his brother marry her, should he so wish.’ (Saint John Damascene. On Heresies, pg. 157)

Koran

  • Allah hates all of those who do not practice Islam

Guide us on the right path,

The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,

Not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go astray. (Koran, surah 1:6,7)

  • ‘There is life for you in retaliation’

And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that you may guard yourselves. (Koran, surah 2:179)

  • Keep your duty to Allah to be successful

And it is not righteousness that you enter the houses by their backs, but he is righteous who keeps his duty. And go into the houses by their doors; and keep your duty to Allah, that you may be successful. (Koran, surah 2:189)

  • ‘Kill them and drive them out’

And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it; so if they fight you (in it), slay them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. The sacred month for the sacred month, and retaliation (is allowed) in sacred things. Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you. (Koran, surah 2:191, 194)

  • ‘Fighting is enjoined on you’

Fighting is enjoined on you, though it is disliked by you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you; and Allah knows while you know not. They ask thee about fighting in the sacred month. Say: Fighting in it is a grave (offence). And hindering (men) from Allah’s way and denying Him and the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah; and persecution is graver than slaughter. (Koran, surah 2:216–217)

  • ‘Whom Allah cursed will not find a helper for him’

Those are they whom Allah has cursed. And whomever Allah curses, thou wilt not find a helper for him. (Koran, sura 4:52)

  • ‘Whomsoever Allah leaves in error thou canst not find a way for him’

Why should you, then, be two parties in relation to the hypocrites while Allah has made them return (to disbelief) for what they have earned? Do you desire to guide him whom Allah leaves in error? And whomsoever Allah leaves in error thou canst not find a way for him. (Koran, surah 4:88)

  • ‘Allah is Severe in requiting’

When thy Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So smite above the necks and smite every finger-tip of them. This is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger — then surely Allah is Severe in requiting. This — taste it, and (know) that for the disbelievers is the chastisement of the Fire. (Koran, sura 8:12–14)

  • ‘Slay! Allah is merciful…’

So when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters, wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran, sura 9:5)

  • Allah cannot be questioned as to what he does

If there were in them gods besides Allah, they would both have been in disorder. So glory be to Allah, the Lord of the Throne, being above what they describe!

He cannot be questioned as to what He does, and they will be questioned. (Koran, sura 21:21–23)


IV – What is the principal objective of the Jubilee Year? Religious syncretism or sincere conversion?


Pius XI

  • The Holy Year attracts those who have the aim of expiating their sins

The many notable and memorable events which have occurred during this Holy Year have given great honor and glory to Our Lord and King, the Founder of the Church. […] All those who in the course of the Holy Year have thronged to this city under the leadership of their Bishops or priests had but one aim – namely, to expiate their sins – and at the tombs of the Apostles and in Our Presence to promise loyalty to the rule of Christ. (Pius XI. Encyclical Quas Primas, no. 2-3, December 11, 1925)

John Paul II

  • The gift of indulgences does not reach us without our acceptance and response

The starting-point for understanding indulgences is the abundance of God’s mercy revealed in the Cross of Christ. The crucified Jesus is the great “indulgence” that the Father has offered humanity through the forgiveness of sins and the possibility of living as children (cf. Jn 1: 12–13) in the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 4: 6; Rom 5: 5; 8: 15–16). However, in the logic of the covenant, which is the heart of the whole economy of salvation, this gift does not reach us without our acceptance and response. In the light of this principle, it is not difficult to understand how reconciliation with God, although based on a free and abundant offer of mercy, at the same time implies an arduous process which involves the individual’s personal effort and the Church’s sacramental work. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 2, September 29, 1999)

  • Indulgences, far from being a sort of “discount” on the duty of conversion, are instead an aid to its prompt, generous and radical fulfillment

The meaning of indulgences must be seen against this background of man’s total renewal by the grace of Christ the Redeemer through the Church’s ministry. […] We can see, then, how indulgences, far from being a sort of “discount” on the duty of conversion, are instead an aid to its prompt, generous and radical fulfillment. This is required to such an extent that the spiritual condition for receiving a plenary indulgence is the exclusion “of all attachment to sin, even venial sin” (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, p. 25) Therefore, it would be a mistake to think that we can receive this gift by simply performing certain outward acts. On the contrary, they are required as the expression and support of our progress in conversion. They particularly show our faith in God’s mercy and in the marvelous reality of communion, which Christ has achieved by indissolubly uniting the Church to himself as his Body and Bride. (John Paul II. General audience, no. 4–5, September 29, 1999)

  • To live the Holy Year well we must be reconciled with God

Being in the Holy Year, I invite you all […] to reconcile yourselves with God, to break the chains of sin and to live in friendship with Him. Christ payed for our faults through the sacrifice of his life. This should impel us to love God profoundly, who first loved us in Christ and redeemed us with his Blood. (John Paul II. General audience, April 13, 1983)

  • The Jubilee Year is a time of deep conversion

By your grace, O Father, may the Jubilee Year be a time of deep conversion and of joyful return to you. […] Father, grant that your Son’s disciples, purified in memory and acknowledging their failings,may be one, that the world may believe. (John Paul II. Prayer for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000)

Committee of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000

  • The purpose of the Jubilee is to encourage holiness of life

In the Roman Catholic tradition, a Holy Year, or Jubilee is a great religious event. It is a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin, it is a year of reconciliation between adversaries, of conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation […] The Jubilee is called Holy Year, not only because its begins, is marked, and ends with solemn holy acts, but also because its purpose is to encourage holiness of life. (Central Committee of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, Document, What is a Holy Year? February 17, 1997)

Paul VI

  • “Renewal” and “reconciliation” remain the key words for the Holy Year – Reconciliation with God through a breaking with sin

“Renewal” and “reconciliation” remain the key words of this celebration: they sum up the hopes that we place in the Holy Year. And yet, as we have said, they will have no effect unless a certain “break” takes place within us (cf. Address of 9 May 1973).

We have now come to Lent, that special time set aside for the renewal of ourselves in Christ, and for reconciliation with God and with our neighbor. During Lent we share deeply in the death and Resurrection of Christ, through a breaking with sin, injustice and selfishness. (Paul VI. Message for Lent, March 2, 1974)

John Paul II

  • The Holy Year is a time when we are called to conversion

By its nature, the Holy Year is a time when we are called to conversion. This is the first word of the preaching of Jesus, which significantly enough is linked with readiness to believe: “Repent and believe the Good News” (Mk 1:15). […] Examination of conscience is therefore one of the most decisive moments of life. It places each individual before the truth of his own life. Thus he discovers the distance which separates his deeds from the ideal which he had set himself. The history of the Church is a history of holiness. The New Testament strongly states this mark of the baptized: they are “saints” to the extent that, being separate from the world insofar as the latter is subject to the Evil One, they consecrate themselves to worshipping the one true God. (John Paul II. Bull of Indiction Incarnationis Mysterium, no. 11, November 29, 1998)

  • Repentance is necessary to participate in the grace of Redemption

The Holy Year is a call to repentance and conversion, as a necessary disposition to participate in the grace of Redemption. (John Paul II. Address to the Sacred College and the Roman Curia for the Christmas season, December 23, 1982)

  • The Holy Year is a time of purification

The Holy Year is a time of purification: the Church is holy because Christ is her Head and her Spouse; the Spirit is her life-giving soul; the Virgin Mary and the saints are her most authentic expression. However, the children of the Church know the experience of sin, whose shadows are cast over her, obscuring her beauty. (John Paul II. Angelus, no. 1, March 12, 2000)

Apostolic Penitentiary

  • The whole Jubilee journey has as its starting point and its conclusion the celebration of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist

By the present decree, which implements the will of the Holy Father expressed in the Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and by virtue of faculties granted by the same Supreme Pontiff, the Apostolic Penitentiary defines the discipline to be observed for gaining the Jubilee indulgence. All the faithful, properly prepared, can fully enjoy, throughout the Jubilee, the gift of the indulgence, in accordance with the following norms. […] The high point of the Jubilee is the encounter with God the Father, through Christ the Saviour present in his Church and in a special way in the Sacraments. For this reason, the whole Jubilee journey, prepared for by pilgrimage, has as its starting point and its conclusion the celebration of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist, the paschal mystery of Christ, our peace and our reconciliation: this is the transforming encounter which opens us to the gift of the indulgence for ourselves and for others. After worthily celebrating sacramental confession, which ordinarily, according to the norm of Canon 960 of the Code of Canon Law and of Canon 720 § 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, must be individual and complete, each member of the faithful, having fulfilled the required conditions, can receive or apply the gift of the plenary indulgence during a suitable period of time, even daily, without needing to go to confession again. It is fitting however that the faithful should frequently receive the grace of the Sacrament of Penance, in order to grow in conversion and in purity of heart. Participation in the Eucharist, which is required for all indulgences, should properly take place on the same day as the prescribed works are performed. (Apostolic Penitentiary, Appendix of the Bull of indiction Incarnationis mysterium of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, Conditions for gaining the Jubilee Indulgence, November 29, 1998)


Discover another innovation:

exhortacion-apostolica To have zeal for the liturgy, doctrine and prestige of the Church amounts to ‘insidious worldliness’?

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