120 – ‘God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned – He only loves and saves’

The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world.” With these words, Francis closed his first Way of the Cross in the Coliseum as Bishop of Rome, during a brief speech that foreshadowed his future preaching centered on pardon and mercy. The Pontiff explained, in an original manner, the meaning of the immolation of the Lamb of God, who had offered his life on the Cross to transmit a word of love, stronger than that of justice.
In this matter, what Catholic doctrine truly teaches us is that the Son of God sacrificed his life on the saving tree for the human race, which had been deprived of the life of grace and impeded to enjoy eternal happiness due to its sins. His offering made reparation to the Father for the great abyss of sin that separated us from him, opening the doors of heaven. Therefore, it was an act of the highest justice.

The process of one’s justification and salvation involves a long journey of perseverance, which consists of abandoning sin through divine aid. Saint  Irenaeus teaches: The Father, therefore, who has prepared the kingdom for the righteous, into which the Son has received those worthy of it, is He who has also prepared the furnace of fire, into which these angels commissioned by the Son of man shall send those persons who deserve it, according to God’s command” (Against Heresies, bk. IV, ch. 40). All will depend on the inmost dispositions of the individual and his or her correspondence to God’s designs. What is certain is that the problem of judgment, the gravity of sin and of eternal damnation continues beyond the sacrifice of Calvary, as much as we may wish to dismiss its importance.

Nevertheless, when we hear that ‘the Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world’ and the interpretation that followed this beautiful affirmation, can we be assured that what is being conveyed is truly orthodox? Rather, might this not be a saying in keeping with a pontificate which ‘makes no response to evil’ and prefers to ‘maintain silence’ in this regard? What are we to think of such a statement within the atmosphere of a Year of Mercy, whose meaning no one has yet clearly understood.



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

I – Is mercy always God’s only response to evil?
II – The Cross of Christ: mercy for some, scandal for others
III – To be saved it is not enough to profess the name of Christ, it is necessary to convert and     live in the grace of God
IV – What does Catholic doctrine say about the final judgment and divine justice?
V – God even punishes in this life, for He wishes to save us in his loving care
VI – Doctrinal explanation regarding mortal sin, the only condition for eternal condemnation

I – Is mercy always God’s only response to evil?

Sacred Scripture

Old Testament

Due to man’s wickedness the Lord wiped out every living thing on earth in the epoch of Noah
The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah
‘To those who failed to heed my voice, not one shall see the land which I promised’
The Lord’s threat to the wicked community that grumbled against him: ‘Here in the desert they shall die to the last man’
God punishes the insolent: The earth opened its mouth and they went down alive to the nether world
God repays with destruction the person who hates him
Due to their evil the Israelites were delivered to the Philistines for forty years
‘I will honor those who honor me, but those who spurn me shall be accursed’
Chastisement for the wicked: ‘During these years there shall be no dew or rain except at my word’
Divine fire came down from heaven consuming the wicked
The prophet cursed them in the name of the Lord

New Testament

The Lord’s strong but holy words to the Pharisees: ‘You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?’
Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem, unfaithful city
Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple
The punishment of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to God was sudden death
In Salamis Paul cursed a false prophet: ‘You will be blind’

II – The Cross of Christ: mercy for some, scandal for others

Sacred Scripture

For not believing in the Son of God, many will die in their sins
Christ crucified: a stumbling block and foolishness for many
Christ is the cornerstone, but also the stone which the builders rejected

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

The same Father prepared the kingdom for the righteous and the furnace of fire for the evil

III – To be saved it is not enough to profess the name of Christ, it is necessary to convert and live in the grace of God

Sacred Scripture

To enter the kingdom of heaven: It is not enough to say that one adheres to Christ, one must do His will
You have approached God, the judge of all - See to it that no one be deprived of grace
We who have received the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude
Being reconciled to God is necessary for salvation
The evil will not enter the kingdom of heaven…
…nor the immoral, or impure or greedy person
Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of the punishment of eternal fire
Keep yourselves in the love of God

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Eternal salvation is only granted to those who live well
To promise salvation by means of faith without observance of the commandments is contrary to the Lord’s prescription
Those who believed in Christ with no purpose and without fruit will be placed with the evil

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Vice leads to final wretchedness in the next world

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

It is necessary to be constantly vigilant in order to be numbered among the blessed

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To die in mortal sin means remaining separated from God forever by our own free choice

Benedict XVI

Conversion without repentance is a false interpretation of grace

John Paul II

Conversion: turning away from ‘life according to the flesh’ to the ‘life according to the Spirit’
Man is subject to eternal damnation when he freely chooses to reject God’s love and forgiveness

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Christ requires an adhesion that encompasses the entire person – intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans
Change in thinking and in acting

Paul VI

Metanoia: a profound change of mind and heart

Synod of Bishops

After the encounter with Jesus everything is different as a result of metanoia

IV – What does Catholic doctrine say about the final judgment and divine justice?

Sacred Scripture

The Father has given all judgment to his Son
The Son of Man will send his angels to throw evildoers into the fiery furnace

Council of Lateran IV (Ecumenical XII)

Christ will come to judge the living and the dead, and will render to each according to his works: the wicked as well as to the elect

Catechism of the Catholic Church

God’s almighty power is in no way arbitrary – nothing escapes His wisdom or justice

Benedict XVI

God is justice and creates justice

Regarding the justice of God, that may eternally condemn, see these studies in the Denzinger-Bergoglio


The Lord always pardons, He never condemns
We will be up there in heaven together
The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity
A reinterpretation of the Creed: at the Final Judgement, Jesus Christ will be our advocate and not our judge


V – God even punishes in this life, for in He wishes to save us in his loving care

Sacred Scripture

The Lord does not declare the guilty guiltless, but punishes
Whom the Lord loves he reproves
He who spares his rod hates his son
Beat him with the rod, and you will save him from the nether world
He who loves his son chastises him often
To correct is to discipline and to love
‘If you are without discipline you are not sons but bastards’
The Lord chastised Moses: he did not enter into the promised land
The Lord chastised David for despising his word

Clement I

Submit yourselves and receive correction, laying aside the arrogant self-confidence of your tongue

Saint Thomas Aquinas

One who does not persevere in discipline is not a son of God

Congregation for the Clergy

As a creative and insightful teacher, God admonishes with reward and punishment

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

More souls go to hell by mercy than by God’s justice

VI – Doctrinal explanation regarding mortal sin, the only condition for eternal condemnation

Catechism of the Catholic Church

What is sin?
Mortal sin destroys charity by a grave violation of God’s law and turns man away from God
Sins have different degrees of gravity
In order to commit mortal sin, one must have knowledge of the sinful character of the act and deliberately consent to it
The gravest sin is what is committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil
Mortal sin results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace
The souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell to suffer eternal fire

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

What does hell consist of?


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