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Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, the effort of someone who decides to be consistent and succeeds, a solitary challenge in the face of the world. No. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, "unjust" mercy.... The surprising, unforeseeable, "unjust" mercy...of one who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a never falling down but an always getting up again.

--Pope Francis (before he was pope)

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I agree with this. (Although "unjust" mercy is a problematic phrase I think). It's not that we cannot become perfect - we can, by the grace of God, but we must rely totally on God and throw ourselves on His mercy. At least, I must, but I'm pretty sure that's true for all of us. And growth in holiness/Christian morality is definitely a response to God's love and mercy.

I thought the fact that he had "unjust" in quotes indicated that it wasn't to be taken in quite the usual sense. It's "unjust" in the sense that it goes beyond pure justice.

That “unjust” threw me slightly, too. Just found the full text of his remarks (made at a book festival in Argentina in 2001) and filling in those ellipses in that quote helps a bit:

Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, the effort of someone who decides to be consistent and succeeds, a solitary challenge in the face of the world. No. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy (I shall return to this adjective). The surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy, using purely human criteria, of one who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a never falling down but an always getting up again.
He also says something later in his remarks that provides some context for his recent comments on proselytizing:
It is a question of starting to say “You” to Christ, and saying it often. It is impossible to desire it without asking for it. And if someone starts to ask for it, then he begins to change. Besides, if someone asks for it, it is because in the depths of his being he feels attracted, called, looked at, awaited. This is the experience of Augustine: there from the depths of my being, something attracts me toward Someone who looked for me first, is waiting for me first, is the almond flower of the prophets, the first to bloom in spring. It is the quality which God possesses and which I take the liberty of defining by using a Buenos Aires word: God, in this case Jesus Christ, always primerea, goes ahead of us. When we arrive, He is already there waiting.
He who encounters Jesus Christ feels the impulse to witness Him or to give witness of what he has encountered, and this is the Christian calling. To go and give witness. You can’t convince anybody. The encounter occurs. You can prove that God exists, but you will never be able, using the force of persuasion, to make anyone encounter God. This is pure grace. Pure grace. In history, from its very beginning until today, grace always primerea, grace always comes first, then comes all the rest.

Thanks for looking this up. I got what I quoted from Magnificat, which I should have mentioned. They also used the first few sentences from the second passage you quote. Very beautiful.

I sort of thought he might mean something like that about proselytizing.

I forgot about this thread.

I thought the fact that he had "unjust" in quotes indicated that it wasn't to be taken in quite the usual sense. It's "unjust" in the sense that it goes beyond pure justice.

I agree. But it just looks problematic to me.

It certainly would seem so to me without the quotes. Maybe he meant for it to be a bit startling.

I think you're right about that “unjust” being meant to startle a bit, Mac. His adding the aside "(I shall return to this adjective)" after using it would seem to indicate that.

Maybe it also accounts for some of the things he's said in recent interviews. A very contemporary approach to things, really. Startle 'em, shock 'em -- whatever's needed to get their attention.

I think that's a lot of what's going on. I don't think he sees or wants others to see everything he says as if it were a Latin inscription on a block of marble. He wants it to be his side of a conversation. I believe people would not be quite so upset, on the one hand, or thrilled, on the other hand (you can identify the hands) if we hadn't gotten so much in the habit of hanging on every word that a pope utters.

It is unjust, in strict justice. As Hamlet says: Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

Exactly. One of my favorite lines from Hamlet, except that I can never remember it's from Hamlet.

Nice line from Hamlet there. :)

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