06 October 2015

A Close Reading of Pastor Aeternus (2)

(Today I continue my close reading of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, Pastor Aeternus, promulgated by Bl. Pope Pius IX at Vatican I.  Yesterday's post is here, and a full index of this series is here.  The series will continue tomorrow with the third chapter.)


We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ the Lord. 

[Several points of note:
  1. What was given: primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church.
  2. Who gave it: Christ the Lord.
  3. How it was given: promised immediately and directly.
  4. To whom it was given: to Blessed Peter the Apostle.
Additionally, note that the council grounds its teaching in "the testimony of the Gospel".  In other words, it is proposed as a received teaching, and not as an invention of the council fathers.]

For it was to Simon alone, 

[Note: Simon alone, i.e. not Simon, together with James and John, not to the whole company of the Apostles.]

to whom he had already said, "You shall be called Cephas" (John 1:42), that the Lord, after the confession made by him, saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God", addressed these solemn words: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven. And I say to you, that you are Peter, 

["Tu es Petrus".  Petrus, Peter, means "rock".  Christ is literally saying "You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my Church." Yves Congar, the famous liberal theologian who pulled many strings at Vatican II, once complained that this line had been used to justify too much.  He also complained about the cult of the Blessed Virgin, saying the same thing about the Angel's "Gratia plena".]

and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven." (Mt 16:16-19). 

And it was upon Simon alone that Jesus, after His Resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold, by the words: "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17). 

At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture, as it has ever been understood by the Catholic Church, are the perverse opinions

[How refreshing it is for the pastors of the Church to stand for the truth with such dedication and zeal that they are willing to call errors gravely contrary to it "perverse opinions"!]

of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church, 

[Christ established not just a Church, not just an assembly of believers, but an organized body, with a definite mode of governance.  Order is an essential feature of the integrity of any living thing.  The order of the membership of the body of Christ is one of its characteristic attributes, which makes it what it is.]

deny that Peter, in his single person, preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction; or of those who assert that the same primacy was not bestowed immediately and directly upon Blessed Peter himself, but upon the Church, and through the Church on Peter as her Minister. 

[Note that Peter is not elected by the will of the faithful, or the Church as a whole.  The council here militates against the application of any Lockean legitimacy-fictions to the ecclesiastical government.  Authority in the Church is not derived from the consent of the governed, but from on high.]

If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible Head of the whole Church Militant; or that the same, directly and immediately, received from the same, Our Lord Jesus Christ, a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema. 

[This is the first formal definition in the constitution. A definition is the formal establishment of the limits of what can be held by those who profess the Catholic faith. Often definitions are stated negatively, as rejections of views which are incompatible with Christian faith. This definition has two parts:
  1. Peter was appointed prince of the apostles and visible head of the Church Militant. 
  2. Peter was given a primacy of true jurisdiction immediately by Christ.]


That which the Prince of Shepherds and great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church; 

[Reasoning: if Christ made Peter the visible principle of unity in the Church, then the principle of unity established in Peter should remain, even after Peter's death, for the good of the Church.]

which, being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and Chief of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides, and judges, to this day and always, in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome, which was founded by him, and consecrated by his blood. [7]

[The Holy See of Rome was founded by Peter and Consecrated by his blood.  In it the apostolic primacy, the pillar of the faith, the keys of the kingdom, the foundation of the Catholic Church are preserved, to the present day and always.] 

Thus, whosoever succeeds Peter in this Chair, obtains, by the institution of Christ Himself, the Primacy of Peter over the whole Church. Therefore, the disposition of truth remains, and Blessed Peter, persevering in the fortitude of the Rock that he accepted, has not relinquished the governance of the Church that he received. [8]

[The primacy of jurisdiction remains.  This is the first thing noted.  After this, it is observed that the "disposition of truth" remains as well.  The nature of this "disposition of truth" will be clarified in the later sections of the document.] 

Therefore, it has always been necessary that each Church -- that is, those who are the faithful everywhere -- should agree with the Roman Church, because of the greater power of the principality that She has received, in order that, all being joined together in the unity of that Seat, from the veneration of which the rights of communion flows to all, might associate closely as members of one Head, in the compact unity of the body.

[The communion or universal agreement and unity in fellowship among the Churches is tied to their agreement and unity in fellowship with the Roman Church, which serves as the visible principle of the unity of the whole Catholic Church. Interesting that the text switches here from speaking of Peter to speaking of the Roman Church.  It does not say that it has always been necessary that the faithful everywhere agree with the Pope.  But it is necessary for all the faithful, and all the local churches, to agree with the Roman Church.  In other words, the deposit of faith as preserved at Rome is normative for the whole Church.  The council is re-affirming the famous principle of St. Irenaeus: "For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority".  (Against Heresies, III.3.2] 

If then, any should deny that it is by the institution of Christ the Lord and by Divine right, that Blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the Universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff' is the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy; let him be anathema. 

[The constitution's second definition establishes two things:
(1) That Christ instituted a perpetual succession to the Petrine primacy over the Church.
(2) That the Roman Pontiffs are the successors in the primacy.]

(To be continued tomorrow...  A complete index of this series can be found here.)

05 October 2015

Why Stay Catholic?

On Twitter (that many-headed beast, that hydra of abominations, that great harlot of the internet), my friend Gabriel Sanchez, of Opus Publicum asks:
It's a decent question.  Given Gabriel's own public struggle with the issue, I think he deserves an answer.  I intend to give a personal answer, and not an apologetical one.  While my thinking may come across as glib, and may not be terribly compelling, readers can at least be assured that it's sincere.

The most superficial reason I'm not flipping Orthodox, psychologically speaking, is mental inertia.  I am already Catholic, and I feel no strong impulse to leave the Church and join another.  When inertia is the answer to "Why are you where you are?", the next question is "How did you get to where you are now?" So I should start by running through some of those reasons.

Back in 2009 I met a number of times with an Orthodox convert from Lutheranism, who was very keen on bringing me and another potential convert into the fold.  The tradition I was presented with from the Orthodox side of things seemed much less robust than the tradition I had seen on the Catholic side of things.  This impression had a few dimensions: first there was the peculiar absence of ecumenical councils since the first seven recognized by the Orthodox.  Second, there was the apparent lack of a strong intellectual tradition among the Orthodox—not much interest in philosophy or the integration of revealed truth with human knowledge; hostility toward the more systematic elements of Church Fathers.  Third, there was the apparent insularity of the Orthodox Churches, which all seemed very much tied to their particular ethnic backgrounds, in a way that seemed contrary to the evangelical spirit of Christianity.  I didn't like Orthodox ecclesiology, and I found the lack of theological development a sign that the Orthodox Churches were stunted in their growth.

The Orthodox never had a Vatican II  (i.e. a synod of fuzzy wobbliness), but the lack of a "visible principle of unity in faith" (e.g. the Pope) to whom everyone was subject in their profession of faith, made it possible for various high-ranking Orthodox prelates to be all over the place on moral issues, without anyone to say they were wrong.  And at that time, whatever might be said about the behavior and beliefs of Catholics on the ground in the United States, the Papacy was still holding the line set down by Paul VI, and defending the existence of absolute moral truths against the tides of relativism.  This made the case for Roman orthodoxy stronger to me, and while I was ready to grant that the current state of things in Rome was imperfect, it seemed more integral somehow than Orthodoxy with its fragmentation.

So much for my reasons six years ago.

Given the state of things today, I'm not sure I would have been able to have all the same thoughts.  Francis has so devastatingly undercut the perceived doctrinal authority of the See of Peter over the past two years that I doubt it would have been possible for me, investigating the Church, to have looked at him as a figure of authority holding fast to ancient orthodoxy against the forces of modernity.  As time goes on, Francis has come to represent many of the characteristics of American Catholicism that most repulsed me as a Protestant: zeal for integration into all the hip liberal political projects, sentimentalization of religion, consistent refusal to clarify or stand behind the articles of faith, disdain for the "rigidity" of any sort of orthodoxy, regular condemnations of "pharisaical" moralism in people who want to uphold traditional moral beliefs...  It would have been hard for me, comparing Orthodoxy to Catholicism today, to instantly recognize Catholicism as the branch of the Church in possession of the Rock of unity and fidelity to the truth.  And I suspect, though I don't know, that if I were in that place again today, this fact would make the choice to convert more difficult. This weakness might have undercut my conviction that Orthodox ecclesiology was wrong, and caused the Roman case for its status as true representative of the Apostolic faith to crumble. (It's possible that, given how much more I know now than I did then, I am overestimating the extent to which I would have understood all this, and therefore exaggerating retroactively the impact Francis's pontificate would have had.  But these things are hard to judge.)

So why stay Catholic now, if the reasons that motivated you most then are not as compelling as they used to be?  After all, a large number of high ranking Catholic prelates publicly embrace moral heresies with impunity, and the Rock seems to have gone all wobbly.

Since converting, I've become a little more familiar with the vagaries of ecclesiastical history.  The papalatry common among new converts has faded, along with the Magisterial Positivism which mistakes pontifical decrees for acts of divine revelation.  I am a Thomist now, and have integrated my cynicism about progressive ("triumphalist") historical narratives on the left or the right into my understanding of Church History.  The current state of the Catholic hierarchy is tremendously depressing.  It makes me feel abandoned by the Church, both as an individual seeking to grow in holiness, and as a theologian trying to stand up for the deposit of faith.  How can you teach the truth, when the man everyone looks to as the visible icon of the Church's indefectibility has stopped teaching the truth?  It's difficult.  The traitors in the Church who slid back into the shadows under Benedict are now bold and enthusiastic in their calls for the further destruction of tradition.

But the state of the Church hierarchy has often been depressing.  And the Church has survived enough wicked and stupid popes for me to be confident that it will survive this pope.  Which brings me to the real reason I'm not interested in converting to Orthodoxy: I have faith that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church, established by Christ, which is indefectible, in which the fulness of faith resides, which is anchored visibly in the person of the Pope, who is a sign of continuity and who holds, in the place of Christ, the primacy of jurisdiction over the Church Militant.  And while Francis may, for all I know, apostatize and defect from his office, or abandon it by attempting to impose upon the Church what is contrary to the express words of Christ, I believe that the tradition passed down at Rome (even today!) is the true tradition, and I find in the monuments of that tradition—the great councils, the great decrees of the popes, the Roman liturgy, the works of great theologians and preaching of great saints—a clear and consistent commitment to revealed truth, and to God, above everything else in this life.

We are in the midst of a dark century for the Church.  Maybe this will be the end.  But while the officers of the Church squander their energy and authority on false dialogue, and vain innovations, and the glorification of humanity, the tradition remains clear.  And this, by the grace of God, is enough for me not to want to jump ship.

Anyway, the original question could be flipped on its head: why become Orthodox, when the Orthodox already have all the same problems, but worse, because they don't even have the resources in their tradition to diagnose them as problems?

A Close Reading of Pastor Aeternus (1)

So far in my series on ultramontanism, I have discussed a few kinds of ultramontanism which attempt to preserve the Pope from error, by pretending that he is not personally subject to the laws of reason and right judgment.  Before I move on to the next stage of this project, I would like to spend some time looking at the most prominent authoritative document on the question of papal authority: Pastor Aeternus, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, which was promulgated under the authority of Bl. Pope Pius IX at Vatican I.

Most educated Catholics, even most well-catechized Catholics, will not have read Pastor Aeternus before.  Though the document is historically associated with high octane ultramontanism, it is useful for us today to look at it and see what sort of authority it does not attribute to the Pope, and to understand the stated basis of the holy father's position and authority.

 I present the document below in red, with my commentary interspersed in black.  The text is taken from this website.  You can find further sourcing information there.  Today I will cover the document's preface, with further installments covering each of its four chapters.


Pius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting remembrance. 

[On the day of its final approval, a few bishops fled Rome so as not to be present for the vote, because they disapproved of the document.  At the time, the primary argument voiced by the opposing bishops was that the definition of infallibility was "inopportune" (not incorrect, but untimely) and would prove a hindrance to ecumenical relations. This evasive tactic was used to great effect by Cardinal Augustin Bea and his allies during the Second Vatican Council, to water down the doctrinal content of the draft documents there.

The two most prominent opponents of Pastor Aeternus, neither of them bishops, were Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger and his friend and collaborator John Dalberg-Acton, the famous "Lord Acton" for which the dissenting Catholic political organization is named.  Both had been lobbying heavily against its promulgation. After the council, Döllinger became a member of the schismatic "Old Catholic Church".  While Acton did not formally leave the Church, neither did he formally submit to the definition of Vatican I, and he seems to have nursed some resentment against Rome for the rest of his life.]

The Eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls, in order to continue for all time the life-giving work of His redemption, determined to build up the Holy Church, in which, as the House of the living God, all who believe might be united in the bond of one faith and one charity. 

[Note that the constitution grounds the unity of the Church in the unity of both faith and charity, and that the stated purpose of the Church is to continue Christ's redemptive work.]

Therefore, before he entered into His glory, He prayed to the Father, not for the Apostles only, but for those also who through their preaching should come to believe in Him, that all might be one, even as He the Son and the Father are one. (John 17:21). 

[Again the point of emphasis is unity, the unity of apostles, and of everyone who believes.]

Then He sent the Apostles, whom He had chosen for Himself from the world, just as he Himself had been sent by the Father. So did He will that there should ever be pastors and teachers in His Church to the end of the world. 

And, so that the Episcopate also might be one and undivided, and so that, by means of a closely united priesthood, the multitude of those who believe might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles. 

[The Petrine Primacy among the apostles is grounded in four reasons:  (1) the unity of the episcopate, (2) the unity of believers in the faith professed, (3) the unity of believers in fellowship with each other, and (4) the unity of the priesthood in service of (2) and (3).]

And He fixed in him the abiding principle of this two-fold unity 

[Two-fold unity: i.e. the unity of the apostolic faith and communion or fellowship.]

with its visible foundation, by the strength of which the eternal Temple would be built up, and the Church, in the firmness of that faith, would rise up, bringing her sublimity to Heaven. [6] 

[Christ placed in Peter the visible foundation of the unity of faith and communion of the Church.  It is the firmness or stability of faith that is emphasized—Peter is appointed as an abiding principle, a foundation which does not move.  The Petrine Office is an office of preservation, which holds firm the foundations of Christian works, not an office of innovation, which changes the foundation.]

And since the gates of Hell, with greater hatred each day, are rising up on every side, to overthrow, if it were possible, the Church and Her divinely-established foundation, We, for the preservation, safe-keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the Sacred Council, judge it to be necessary to propose, for the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine of the institution, perpetuity, and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy, by which the strength and solidity of the entire Church is established, and at the same time to proscribe and condemn the contrary errors, which are so harmful to the flock of Christ. 

[Notice that they want to uphold the ancient and constant faith.

Regarding the Apostolic Primacy, i.e. the primacy of the Petrine Office, the constitution aims to address (1) its institution, (2) its perpetuity, and (3) its nature.

Again it is emphasized that the strength of the Church is based on the unity of faith and communion, of which the visible foundation is the See of Peter.  Obviously the invisible foundation of the unity of the Church is the grace of Christ.]

(To be continued tomorrow...  A complete index of this series can be found here.)

04 October 2015

Extraordinary Events Tonight at Holy Name Cathedral

I overslept this morning and consequently missed the mass I usually attend.  Instead I opted to go to Chicago's cathedral church, Holy Name, which is in the middle of the "Magnificent Mile" shopping district downtown.  I'd never been to Holy Name for mass before, though I've stopped in a few times when I was in the area, so I was interested to see what it was like.

The liturgy was the standard, reasonably well-executed Novus Ordo mass one tends to find in major churches. A variety of lay lectors, a good cantor, a mumbling congregation that didn't sing any of the hymns.  The service was extremely well-attended.  There were at least a dozen people standing in the back of the Church.

As anyone who reads this blog is sure to know, the Roman Synod's meeting to discuss issues confronting the Church relating to marriage and the family began today.  The readings fit the occasion—first God's creation of Eve, then the discourse on divorce from St. Mark's Gospel, in which Christ says "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

The most striking part of this mass was the homily.  The celebrant priest is a canon lawyer who works in the diocesan marriage tribunal, and he launched into his homily with fervor.  After about a minute he stopped himself and announced to the congregation that he was angry.  "And I'm not one to get angry during homilies.  That's just not in my nature."

His anger, he explained, was a result of the media distortion surrounding the Synod's meeting, relating to "communion for divorced and remarried catholics".  He said that the obsession with his topic has been going on for at least a year, and that it has taken attention away from more important issues facing the Church, related to the family.

Then he proceeded to read and carefully explain CIC §§ 1055-56:
Can. 1055 §1 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptised, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. 
§2 Consequently, a valid marriage contract cannot exist between baptised persons without its being by that very fact a sacrament. 
Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility; in christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.
 He pointed out a few basic facts:
  1. That marriage, including natural marriage, is a covenant, i.e. a free and complete act of surrendering oneself to another, and receiving the same act from the one with whom the covenant is made.
  2. That the marriage covenant is made by the two spouses, not by the Church, which is a witness to the act.
  3. That once we are baptized, our entire life is bound up with Christ.
  4. That consequently, in a marriage between baptized persons, the marriage covenant is bound to their life in Christ, and is ratified by Christ.
  5. That every marriage between baptized people is consequently a sacrament.
  6. That a sacramental marriage has two properties: unity and indissolubility.
Then he started to talk about annulment.  (The man was clearly not joking when he said he was angry.  He didn't come across as harsh, but was evidently stirred up.)  He told us that the Church cannot dissolve a marriage.  He told us that 80% of the annulments in the entire world are issued to Americans.  He said that people make jokes about this in Rome.  He gave two examples of grounds of nullity (defect of judgment and simulation) with examples illustrating each.  

As the homily wound down, it was clear that the priest celebrant was running out of steam, and had gotten so caught up in what he had to say that he wasn't sure how to close.  He lamented the fact that excessive media attention to this topic has made it harder for people who have gone through divorces to heal.  He warned us again against the distortions of the media, and reminded us (ambiguously) of the passage immediately following Christ's discourse on divorce in Mark: his instruction that "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."  We should be careful, he warned, not to prevent the little children of the Church from coming to receive Christ.

All in all an exceptional homily, with a really confusing ending.  But not what I expected at all.  I do not know who the priest was, but I would like to congratulate him on giving the most thorough homily I have ever heard about the sacrament of matrimony, despite the fact that he was clearly worked up.

The Sensible Bond

Before destroying my online social network, I asked people to send me as many Catholic blogs as they could think of.  I ended up with about 80 individual suggestions, along with a couple of blog lists with many, many more.  I would like to start looking through all of these blogs, and survey the landscape, so to speak.

Anyway, I picked one at random just now, called "The Sensible Bond".  The most recent post was a comparison between the attitude of the Brits during the Battle of Britain, and the attitude we should take against the evil German conspiracies currently rocking the Church.  Decent comparison, I think.

I especially enjoyed this post about how stupid the internet is: "a self-appointed place for Messieurs Whippy of Wisdom", as he calls it.  Hey, I'm pretty guilty of the whole all-wise charade.  Anyway, check out the blog.  Maybe you'll find it good.

03 October 2015

For an old friend

Earlier tonight I terminated all of the digital relationships associated with my facebook account.  After "un-friend-ing" several hundred people, I noticed that there was someone left, who had not shown up in my list of friendships, but still remained in the little "friends" box on my profile.

The fellow in question was an old friend from high school named Josh Busch.  Josh was a year below me, and we were classmates in introductory biology the summer before my senior year.  We were also both enrolled in the school's tiny Classical Greek program, and so we knew each other from that.  I liked Josh.  He had a ridiculous arrogant streak, and postured as a "badass bro", as people would have said back then, though unconvincingly.  He was nerdy and affable, and I was capable of carrying on a conversation with him easily, which was rare for me then.

The year I started college, Josh transferred to a prep school on the east coast that was known for its hockey program.  We kept in touch through Facebook, and I remember talking to him on a weekly basis about his calculus homework.  It was a relief to me to have something fun and within-reach to work on, and I used Josh's weekly Calculus Extra Credit problem as a social distraction from the overwhelming course work I had piled on myself my first year.

I talked to Josh a lot that year, and less the year after.  He started school at Emory, eventually entered a concentrated finance program, joined a fraternity.  He was always a little bit ridiculous, but irresistibly nice.  I remember this about him very much.  I've always been someone who quietly beats himself up in conversation with people for saying stupid things, or being awkward, and Josh was the sort of person who could make it so that thoughts like that didn't occur.  In my later years of college, we fell out of touch.  I never knew what happened to him, but assumed he had finished his degree and gone on, as so many acquaintances have, into consulting or banking or some such.

As you might have guessed by now, I was wrong.  Josh died in 2011, just before the start of his last year of college.  The article in the student paper about his death leaves the cause unstated, but Google seems to suggest a drug overdose, and possibly suicide.

I am not a person who is given to fits of tragedy. But sometimes people strike us, and the news of their removal pierces deeply.  I had not heard from Josh, or thought to contact him, in at least four years.  I am sad for Josh's departure from this life, because he was kind, and because the circumstances of his death suggest that he was unhappy.  Why is it that the people who give us a sense of our own dignity and worth, however briefly, are the hardest to see go?

Please pray for the soul of Joshua Busch.

02 October 2015

Early Apollo

(I continue my series of translations of favorite German poems.  "Früher Apollo", by Rainer Maria Rilke, opens the first part of his magnum opus Neue Gedichte, or "New Poems".)

Early Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke

As, many times through not yet budding branches
a morning peers down, for which
already it is spring: so is there in his head
nothing at all which could hinder, that the gleam

of all poems should almost strike us dead;
since still there is no shadow in his gaze
his temples still too cool for any laurel
and only later will there from his eyebrows

lift itself with mighty stems a rosary
the leaves from which, alone, released,
will be chased onto the trembling of the mouth

which is still silent, never-used and glinting
and drinking something only with his grin
as if his singing were infused within it.

Short Reflection on Jorge Bergoglio's Theological Confusion

There have been hints that Jorge Bergoglio (I am speaking of the man as an individual person, and not in his official role) is some sort of universalist, a pluralist of some sort...  One of the Scalfari interviews even had him saying that those who don't go to heaven are annihilated at death.  There's a good deal of evidence that he doesn't believe denominational membership matters—the famous story of his Anglican friend who wanted to convert to Catholicism until Bergoglio told him not to.  Disturbing hints.  

There have been so many suggestions in all sorts of directions—both orthodox and heterodox—over the past two years from this man, that my instinct is to say he is theologically very confused. A priest reported being told by him that "Studying fundamental theology is one of the most boring things on earth." I realize that he has an S.T.L., and has taught theology, but doctrine seems decidedly unimportant to him.  And it is hard to understand how someone with a clear grasp of the faith can say such things as the following:
Q: Regarding victims or relatives who don’t forgive - do you understand them? 
A: Yes, I do. I pray for them. And I don’t judge them. Once, in one of these meetings, I met several people and I met a woman who told me “When my mother found out that I had been abused, she became blasphemous, she lost her faith and she died an atheist.” I understand that woman. I understand her. And God who is even better than me, understands her. And I’m sure that that woman has been received by God. Because what was abused, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter. I understand her. I don’t judge someone who can’t forgive. I pray and I ask God… God is a champion in finding paths of solutions. I ask him to fix it.
 How can you be sure that someone who has no faith, is "blasphemous" and an atheist is in heaven?  Perhaps there could be uncertainty.  One could say "God may have worked in her heart during her last moments to draw her to him, like a worker called to the vineyard at the last hour".  And one should definitely sympathize with her—she suffered something utterly abominable.  But to be sure that this woman, who is only identified by the things that would indicate her rejection of God—her atheism and blasphemy and loss of faith—is in heaven, is a little odd.  What it suggests to us is that Jorge Bergoglio does not believe that God holds us accountable for our sins.  It suggests that he thinks human actions don't ultimately matter—that that woman was incapable of rejecting God.  And this thought is completely foreign to the Catholic faith.  Faith is important.  Recall the words of the Athanasian Creed:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; which faith, unless every one keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.