Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis on March 13, 2013. Celebrating Mass a couple of months later, he made news with the following statement: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace” (qtd. At www.apologeticspress.org).
This papal declaration is comforting. No need to worry about that neighbor who drinks a couple of six-packs every Saturday night and plays golf all day on Sunday. No need to worry about the friend at work who only uses God’s name as an expletive. No need to worry even about the militant infidel striving to stamp God out of public life. “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ.”
But if Jesus and his apostles can be trusted, then these words give false hope. Yes, all people are God’s children, men and women created in his image. But we are disobedient children, children enslaved to sin. Christ did die on the cross to redeem everyone from spiritual bondage, but the power of his blood to free us is an amazing gift given only to those who receive it by obedient faith. Jesus says, “Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33). And Peter himself, the apostle Francis professes to honor as the first pope, speaks plainly of God’s coming judgment on unbelievers: “By turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he [God] condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:6).