Pope Francis on the children of God

In his sermon on Pentecost, Pope Francis taught on spiritual adoption as the children of God. Here is the news article: We were made to be God’s children and also the full text from the Vatican website. His teaching is correct. I will offer some quotes from the holy Pontiff below, and then give a theological explanation in support of his sermon.

Pope Francis: “The central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.”

Just as the Council of Trent taught, the human race, in the form of Adam and Eve, was in the state of original justice, which includes the state of grace. And everyone in the state of grace is a child of God by spiritual adoption. When Adam and Eve fell from grace, they became children of wrath, just as are any of their descendants, who inherit original sin — until they enter the state of grace by any form of baptism, even a baptism of desire. Everyone today, including baptized Christians and non-Christians who are in the state of grace by a baptism of desire or baptism of blood, are children of God by spiritual adoption.

Whosoever claims that only baptized Christians are true children of God by spiritual adoption claims a heresy, which directly contradicts the infallible teaching of the Council of Trent, with attached anathema. That idea is material heresy, and whosoever adheres to that idea, despite realizing that Trent infallibly teaches otherwise, commits formal heresy and is automatically excommunicated.

Pope Francis is correct because “the gift of the Holy Spirit” includes the state of grace, and spiritual adoption. His metaphor of orphaned children is apt, because the human race began in a state of spiritual adoption, since Adam and Eve were in a state of grace. When they fell away from grace, God decided to create each human person, at conception, without the state of grace, due to original sin (from which Mary and Jesus alone are exempt). In this life, we are to seek and find and retain until death that holy state of grace, which certainly includes a recovery of the spiritual adoption with which the human race began.

Pope Francis: The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God….”

Now the baptism of desire is also called a baptism of the Spirit (as St. Thomas explains). Therefore, even non-Christians can be led by the Spirit of God, if they receive an implicit baptism of desire. And they thereby become adopted children of God, as the Council of Trent teaches.

Pope Francis: “We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.”

The human race began as God’s children, in Adam and Eve before the fall. The expression “it is in our DNA” is figurative, meaning that God wills all persons to be saved (though some are not saved, due to free will), and so God created the human race such that happiness can only be obtained by the state of grace, as children of God.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to Pope Francis on the children of God

  1. Shane Hogan says:

    Thank you Ron for this teaching, and for all your teaching, which I study almost daily. You help to keep my mind clear as I enter the classroom each day and try to help the teenage boys of Charleville understand God’s love for them. An incredible responsibility and I am very grateful for all your work, offered so generously.

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