So the Pope-- oh, the shock and awe!-- sings another verse of the same old song, that everybody outside Catholic walls is not a real Christian. Why is this supposed to be news?
The official Vatican councils have always said this. But perhaps the lost world had been mistaken, taking the ecumenical overtures from the last few decades as indicating a change of tune. Being largely ignorant of that church’s history and taking little notice of its pronouncements, who could blame them for thinking things had changed?
What’s really going on is the same old “cognitive dissonance”: They don’t really care what religion you are, as long as you’re Catholic. You can keep Buddha, Krishna, Gaia, whoever or whatever you want, but you must add Catholic to the mix or you’re doomed. Hence the confusion between tolerance and intolerance.
“But”, you protest, “Don’t all the churches say the same thing, that you’re lost if you aren’t a member?”
Not at all. There’s a huge gulf between “belong to our organization” and “believe that Jesus is God who died and rose again for our sins”. Truth is what it is; we can’t change it by belief. If there is only one right answer to the question “What is 2 plus 2?”, since it is a fact, then there is only one right answer to the identity of the one true God.
But what the Pope is talking about is people not being under the thumb of Rome, proven by the fact that Rome has continued throughout its history to accept any belief system as long as one also pledges allegiance to the Catholic Church. Belief actually has little to do with it. To them, fact and truth are whatever they decree, which can change (and frequently has) over time.
So we should not think that such mixed signals from Rome are newsworthy. Sadly though, many Protestants have been lulled to sleep by the siren song of ecumenism, such that they hardly blink when the Pope says something like this because they have already been assimilated. It’s amazing how easily our leaders have been led astray. And then they wonder why Barna polls show such a stampede away from the churches.