Pope Francis says true doctrine unites, but ideology divides.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father made this distinction during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, while considering when the so-called Council of Jerusalem which, around the year 49 A.D., decided that Gentile converts to Christianity would not have to be circumcised.
Reflecting on today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Francis pointed out that in the first Christian community, “there were jealousies, power struggles, a certain deviousness that wanted to profit from and to buy power.”
While acknowledging “there are always problems,”and that we are “human” and “sinners,” Francis reminded that “being sinners leads to humility and to drawing close to the Lord, as Savior who saves us from our sins.”
Turning to the Gentiles who the Spirit called to become Christians, the Pope recalled that in the reading, the Apostles and the elders chose several people to go to Antioch together with Paul and Barnabas. The reading, the Jesuit Pope also pointed out, describes two different kinds of people: those who, with a good spirit, had “forceful discussions,” and those who sowed confusion.
“The group of the Apostles who want to discuss the problem, and the others who go and create problems. They divide, they divide the Church, they say that what the Apostles preached is not what Jesus said, that it is not the truth.”
Among themselves, the Apostles discussed the situation, and there, they came to an agreement, the Pope said. “But it is not a political agreement,” he underscored. “It is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
Therefore, he recalled, the Gentiles were allowed to enter the Church without having to undergo circumcision. At the heart of the “first Council” of the Church, Francis recalled, everyone–Pope, Bishops, and the Holy Spirit, all together–gathered to “clarify the doctrine.” Later, through the centuries, he said, referring to in Ephesus or at Vatican II, subsequent similar efforts were made because “it is a duty of the Church to clarify the doctrine,” so that “what Jesus said in the Gospels, what is the Spirit of the Gospels, would be understood well.”
“But there were always people who without any commission go out to disturb the Christian community with speeches that upset souls,” Francis pointed out. “‘Eh, no, someone who says that is a heretic, you can’t say this, or that; this is the doctrine of the Church.’ And they are fanatics of things that are not clear, like those fanatics who go there sowing weeds in order to divide the Christian community.”
“And this is the problem,” he said, “when the doctrine of the Church, that which comes from the Gospel, that which the Holy Spirit inspires – because Jesus said, “He will teach us and remind you of all that I have taught’ – [when] that doctrine becomes an ideology. And this is the great error of those people.”
Such individuals, the Holy Father explained, “were not believers, they were ideologized,” and their hearts were closed to the Holy Spirit’s work. On the other hand, the Apostles, Francis observed, certainly discussed things forcefully, but were not ideologized.
“They had hearts open to what the Holy Spirit said. And after the discussion ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.’”
Pope Francis, concluded urging that one should not be afraid in the face “of the opinions of the ideologues of doctrine.”
The Church has “its proper Magisterium, the Magisterium of the Pope, of the Bishops, of the Councils,” the Pope acknowledged, said, noting, we must go along the path “that comes from the preaching of Jesus, and from the teaching and assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
He concluded noting this path is “always open, always free,” because “doctrine unites, the Councils unite the Christian community, while, on the other hand, ideology divides.”