Tributes are flooding in for the Pope, many referring to his great works and moral leadership. A Cuban cardinal said: “This is a man who has carried the moral weight of the world for 26 years… turning himself into the only moral reference for humanity in recent years of wars and difficulties.” All the news reports and stories mention how everyone is praying. “The Church around the world is united in prayer.”
But what are they praying for? Surely they can’t be praying that he would live longer; at this stage, that would be terrible. They might be praying that he would die – that would be entirely reasonable – but it doesn’t seem so. Maybe some people are.
One guy, interviewed on Radio 4 in St. Peter’s Square, said that “we are praying that his suffering will help the Church, and indeed the whole world”. But that can’t be right. There was only one man whose suffering could help others – Jesus Christ, the man who lived a sinless life yet took the punishment we all deserve.
So why pray for the Pope? Well, I am praying for him – praying that even now, he would repent, stop relying on his deeds and works for salvation as Catholic doctrine wrongly requires (e.g. #837), turn to God and accept the glorious and incredible offer of free, unconditional grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)