Pope: Original Sin Means Humans Are Good

Yes, you read that headline right–at least if a CWN article about today’s papal audience is to be believed.

The faith tells us that there are no two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle which is God the Creator and He is solely good, without shadow of evil. Hence neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good. … This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason … life too is good.

Zenit gives us a little more; if it is accurate, then the CWN editor misunderstood.

“… Faith tells us that there are not two principles, one good and one evil, but only one principle, the creator God, and this principle is good, only good, without a shadow of evil.

“As well, being is not a mixture of good and evil; being as such is good and because of this it is good to be, it is good to live. This is the happy proclamation of faith: there is only one good source, the Creator. And because of this, to live is good, it is a good thing to be a man, a woman, life is good.”

The mystery of darkness follows, he said, “Evil does not come from the source of being itself, it is not equally original. Evil comes from a created liberty, from an abused liberty.”

Ah. He didn’t say, pace CWN, that “the human being as such is good,” but “being as such is good.” Big difference.

But that doesn’t solve all the problems with what the pope said. Consider the full text. We see there’s more going on here than the reporters tell us–and much that is problematic.

Here’s the key issue:

“Many think that, in the light of the history of evolution, there is no longer a place for the doctrine of a first sin, which then spread to the whole history of humanity. And, consequently, the question of the Resurrection and of the Redeemer would also lose its foundation.”

At root, “original sin” means the original sin–Adam’s sin–that, according to Paul, resulted in condemnation and death for all men. But evolution says that death and destruction are part of the natural order, existing long before there were humans. If this is so, if there was no original sin by Adam that brought death into the world, then, indeed, there can be no hope of resurrection or of life in Christ. The historicity of the fall is what makes the atonement necessary.

The Pope, playing philosopher, ducks the important question, and chooses instead to speak simply of a contradiction in our nature. He cannot accept that sin is a necessary part of being–and rightly so. But he avoids the question that he himself posed, which is the question that must be answered by any of those who, like Pope Benedict, accept evolution. He accepts wanton death and destruction for billions of years before the first human walked on the earth. The story of the fall is reduced to metaphor and myth.

How was this [entry of sin] possible, how did it happen? This remains obscure. Evil is not logical. Only God and the good are logical, are light. Evil remains mysterious. It has been presented in great images, as does chapter 3 of Genesis, with the vision of two trees, of the serpent, of sinful man. A great image that makes us guess, but it cannot explain how much in itself is illogical. We can guess, not explain; nor can we recount it as a fact next to another, because it is a more profound reality. It remains a mystery of darkness, of night. However, a mystery of light is immediately added. Evil comes from a subordinate source. With his light, God is stronger and, because of this, evil can be overcome. Therefore, the creature, man, is curable.; but if evil comes only from a subordinate source, it remains true that man is curable. And the Book of Wisdom says: “the creatures of the world are wholesome” (1:14).

And finally, the last point, man is not only curable, he is in fact cured. God has introduced healing. He entered in person into history. To the permanent source of evil he has opposed a source of pure good. Christ crucified and risen, the new Adam, opposed the filthy river of evil with a river of light. And this river is present in history: We see the saints, the great saints but also the humble saints, the simple faithful. We see that the river of light that comes from Christ is present, is strong.

What is this? He goes from the clear teaching of Scripture to philosophical mumbo-jumbo, what sounds almost like New Age mysticism, even Gnosticism.

Hear instead the Word of God in the text which he referenced at the outset, Romans 5:12-21:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.