Jorge’s “Mens” & Logic Are Not The Mind & Logic Of The Church

This is a request, bordering on a plea, for those scholars, theologians, thinkers, and ecclesiologists who know, to explain the use of the words “mens” and “logic” in various official translations of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“AL”). Also, are the implications of Jorge Bergoglio’s use of these words as ominous as they appear? All that follows is in the nature of questions from a layman who, someday, would like to behold the face of God.

The official Vatican Latin version of AL uses the word “mens” in this now-infamous statement from Section 297 of AL:

Nemo in perpetuum damnari potest, quia haec est mens Evangelii!

The official English translation of this statement uses the word “logic” as the translation of the word “mens”:

No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!

I first opened a Cassell’s Latin-English and English-Latin Dictionary in the Fall of 1961. I still have that copy of this authoritative work. It is 927 pages long. The entry for the definition of the Latin word “mens” is not short. It includes, inter alia (you gotta love Latin) mind, opinion, way of thinking, character, conscience, understanding, intellect and judgment. In its full text for the definition of this word, which includes several actual uses of it in various ancient works, there is no mention of the word “logic.”  None.

Of all the apparently heretical statements in AL, The “no one is condemned forever” statement may be the ultimate “run-in-front-of-the-bear” statement for faithful catholics; and Jorge and his handlers may now regret being so forthright in their heresies.  Some discussions of AL spend more time on this statement than all the other heresies of AL. This is probably because of its clarity, its succinctness, its lack of plausible deniability, and its lack of ambiguous wiggle room for evasive misinterpretation or “reading in full context.”  That is, it is impossible to explain this away, which may account for the silence from the man wearing papal white, his minions, and his handlers, silence even in the face of bishops and cardinals publicly worried about, at a minimum, the ambiguity of the statement.

Although the official Latin text of AL says “mens, and Jorge B. has used the phrase on at least one other occasion, these phrases -“logic of the Gospel” and “mind of the Gospel” – are not phrases that have the long and voluminous history of two other “mens” wordings  – “mens Ecclesiae,” or mind of the church and “mens Christi,” or mind of Christ. In church history, going back to the early Church Fathers and up to the present day, “mens ecclesiae” and “mens Christi” are understood to mean and include the universally accepted teaching and traditions of undeniable truths of the church grounded in Holy Scripture:

Historically, the mens ecclesiae or mind of the Church was expressed through the extrinsic tradition. That is to say that the Church, since it receives both its teaching from the past and the labor of the saints and previous Magisterium by tradition, always looked at the present through the eyes of the past. In this, she looked at the present not as man under the influence of modern philosophy looked at the present, but through the eyes of her Lord Who gave her His teaching when He was on earth (i.e., in the past). Only at the time of Christ was it possible to look authentically at the past through what was then the eyes of the present, since Christ was the fulfillment of the past. But once the work of Christ became part of history and He ascended into heaven, we must always look back to Christ and to our tradition for an authentic understanding of the present. . . . Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere.  . . . That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present, not the past, to justify itself. ” (Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism, Fr. Chad Ripperger, F.S.S.P., Latin Mass Magazine, Spring 2001).

There is a inherent substantial connection in church teaching between the concepts of tradition  and the mind of the church:

Such is the notion of tradition in the double meaning of the word; it is Divine truth coming down to us in the mind of the Church and it is the guardianship and transmission of this Divine truth by the organ of the living magisterium, by ecclesiastical preaching, by the profession of it made by all in the Christian life.

Doctrinal chaos inevitably follows from heresies, especially heresies such as those of AL that contradict not only God-inspired Holy Scripture, but the very words of Jesus Himself:

While we are required to give religious assent even to the non-infallible teachings of the Church, what are we to do when a magisterial document contradicts other current or previous teachings and one does not have any more authoritative weight than the other? It is too simplistic merely to say that we are to follow the current teaching. What would happen if in a period of crisis, like our own, a non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching contradicted what was in fact the truth? If one part of the Magisterium contradicts another, both being at the same level, which is to believed?

Terrible conclusions can be drawn from the use of either word, “mens” or “logic”, in AL – terrible in the sense of: are any of the faithful so influenced by this that they will go to the eternal hell that Jorge has abolished by this Bergoglian heresy?

It appears that Jorge has deformed and sullied the beautiful artist’s image of the King and presented the faithful with the distorted picture of an heretical dog:

Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions. Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In like manner do these persons patch together old wives’ fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 8).

Putting aside for the moment the eternal salvation, or not, of the faithful, what is going on with Jorge’s use of these theologically-deep and magisterially-loaded words? It must be assumed that: their use is no accident; that the writer or writers of AL knew this and the long history of these words in connection with “church” and “Christ;” and they were and are fully aware of the implicit claims made by Jorge and for Jorge’s teachings by their use. This being so, this layman has some questions for the scholars, etc. mentioned at the beginning of this article and for those membes of that enormous group who know more about all this than he does:

  1. Why two different words in the official Latin version and in most of the official translations, two words whose meanings are not the same?
  2. Via the assertion regarding “mens,” is it being claimed that Jorge has some new divine inspiration about truth, some revelation that has not been heard for two millennia, some addition to the centuries old tradition of the church?
  3. Does the claim to now know the “mens” of the Gospel include the claim that Jorge can amend tradition, correct Holy Scripture, and let us know the errors of Jesus?
  4. Can Jorge’s mens-truth be the virtue-basis for disobeying Commands Of The Lord, including the Command Of The Lord that only males can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders?
  5. Is there anything, once the new Jorge-mens truth or the Jorge-logic doctrine is accepted and established, is there anything in any creed, any dogma, any scripture, any doctrine, or in any church teaching that cannot be “developed” by Jorge, ostensibly based on his mens-inspiration or logic-revelation, even developed to the extent that it is contradicted, abolished, or destroyed?




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  1. No fan of AL, and I’m aware his statement is with ulterior motives – but it seems to me what’s clearly implicit is “No one [who is still alive] can be condemned forever.”

  2. My Lewis & Short defines mens, mentis:

    mind, disposition; the heart, soul; feelings, sentiments; the conscience; the intellectual faculties, the mind, understanding, intellect, reason, judgement, discernment, consideration, reflection, etc [so presumably “logic”]

  3. I think the translation is fine. The real question is can this assertion be understood in congruency with the teaching authority of the church, or is this something entirely novel?

    In order to answer that question, we first need to know what it is that Mother Church teaches about who it is exactly, that condemns to hell those souls that are consigned to there.

    Alternatively, maybe we’re talking about repentance and forgiveness over the temporal span –assuming that time ends when this world passes away.

    In any event, I think this passage can be, and indeed must be, understood in a manner that is consistent with the magisterium. Although I’ll grant any number of people have done otherwise.

    But I see no use in agreeing with their unstated premise in order to disagree with their stated conclusions.

  4. With all charity Guy, I think you’re reading this with the same hermeneutic of suspicion that undermined and then destroyed liberal Protestantism’s faith, first in scripture, and then in the gospel, the “good news” itself.

    It’s not spiritually healthy.

  5. Latin has always been a clumsy language for expressing theology which is why quite a bit of Latin theology is an imprecise rendering into Latin of original theological musings in Greek, beginning with the New Testament of course. Mens in the cited passage I think is using “mind” in the colloquial sense of “essense” of the Gospel. It doesn’t help that the Pope is a sloppy thinker and writer. I think most of his texts are drafted by others, with the Pope then acting as a fairly heavy handed editor, which of course is his right. This produces documents that are very uneven, with passages which, read in isolation, are difficult to grasp. The Pope has never been known as a skilled Latinist, so I assume the initial composition is done in Spanish, or Italian, or a smattering of both. Thus we have the official text being, in actuality, a translation of the original composition. With a Pope who is a precise thinker and draftsman, that matters little. With a Pope who is the opposite of both, it is Katie ostium sera.

  6. As for no one being condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel, a person condemns his own self by remaining in unrepentant sin, and God will respect a person’s decision because He doesn’t make windup robots. Jorge Bergoglio hasn’t the intellectual capacity to understand that, but if he doesn’t repent of his heresies prior to leaving this world, then he’ll find out how much God respects his decision.

    That said, I think Donald is correct. Latin is clumsy at rendering technical Greek theological terms (e.g., ὁμοούσιον vs consubstantialitas or coessentialitas – same substance vs with substance or with essence). Nevertheless, I looked up the etymology of the word mens and found several different iterations depending on the original language used. This is what the first etymology entry says in relation to Latin:

    *men- (1) Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to think,” with derivatives referring to qualities and states of mind or thought.

    It forms all or part of: admonish; Ahura Mazda; ament; amentia; amnesia; amnesty; anamnesis; anamnestic; automatic; automaton; balletomane; comment; compos mentis; dement; demonstrate; Eumenides; idiomatic; maenad; -mancy; mandarin; mania; maniac; manic; mantic; mantis; mantra; memento; mens rea; mental; mention; mentor; mind; Minerva; minnesinger; mnemonic; Mnemosyne; money; monition; monitor; monster; monument; mosaic; Muse; museum; music; muster; premonition; reminiscence; reminiscent; summon.

    It is the hypothetical source of and evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit manas- “mind, spirit,” matih “thought,” munih “sage, seer;” Avestan manah- “mind, spirit;” Greek memona “I yearn,” mania “madness,” mantis “one who divines, prophet, seer;” Latin mens “mind, understanding, reason,” memini “I remember,” mentio “remembrance;” Lithuanian mintis “thought, idea,” Old Church Slavonic mineti “to believe, think,” Russian pamjat “memory;” Gothic gamunds, Old English gemynd “memory, remembrance; conscious mind, intellect.”

  7. Erne-Haven’t touched a Lewis & Short since 1967. Makes Cassells look like a dime novel. My trepidation and fear is based on what Jorge et al have done so far. Perhaps this is less than a typhoon in a teapot and they won’t rely on the Jorge “mens” to do away with all teaching and tradition. Time will tell.There is also no way to know which came first – the versions with “logic” or the Latin with “mens.” Dan must be correct re Spanish or Italian. But then, what Latinist would ever translate “logic” as “mens”?

    We shall see. Even paranoids are followed sometimes, sometimes by zombies.
    Guy, Texas

    I am much more suspicious of Jorge et al than I am of any protestant.

  8. I think of Fr z phrase What does the (word) really say. I think we have learned to be suspicious and wary of obscured meanings , actual intent, and deception.

  9. [A] person condemns his own self by remaining in unrepentant sin, and God will respect a person’s decision because He doesn’t make windup robots.

    The fact that a person chooses hell misreading of being sentenced, or “condemned” to hell is why I think it’s possible to understand the passage in question in an orthodox way.

    Indeed, it is the only way to understand it, when reading with “the mind of the church.”

  10. I think you’re making a mole hill out of an ant heap here Guy.

    A more colloquial translation of the phrase mens Evangelii would be “spirit of the gospel” or “rationale (underlying) the gospel” or “thinking (behind) the gospel.” But the English translator didn’t think any of that sounded momentous enough, so he went with “logic of the gospel.” Why? Who knows? Maybe he was a lawyer.

  11. Autocorrect messes with me again “misreading” was supposed to be “instead of being.”

    Couple of final thoughts:

    First, all Francis has done, really, is to make a mess. If you don’t want to be messy, don’t participate in his mess.

    Second, the correct response to silly (probably Jesuits or Jesuit inspired) people saying “XYZ changes everything! Isn’t it wonderful?” isn’t to say that it’s terrible. It’s to disagree with the premise that anything at all has changed.

    At least when it comes to the Deposit of Faith.

  12. Colloquially, we often say “no one” or “everyone” and we mean “everyone who is alive.” [Everyone needs O2. No one is always quiet].

    In context, he’s obviously talking about people who are alive.

    And alive people don’t go to Hell.

  13. Mr. Schreiber would, of course, be right in pointing out that the “no one can be condemned forever” sentence can be understand in an orthodox way… were it not for the fact that the Pope himself, in the same document, concludes that, because no one can be condemned forever, unrepentant adulterers who keep committing adultery should receive Holy Communion. He has made totally clear that “no one can be condemned forever” means that, if you commit serious sin for a long enough period of time, it doesn’t matter anymore and that sin ceases to be a sin.
    That, I’m afraid, cannot be interpreted in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

  14. [T]he Pope himself, in the same document, concludes that, because no one can be condemned forever, unrepentant adulterers who keep committing adultery should receive Holy Communion. He has made totally clear that “no one can be condemned forever” means that, if you commit serious sin for a long enough period of time, it doesn’t matter anymore and that sin ceases to be a sin.

    Kindly provide the “chapter and verse,” (q.v.) where Francis reaches the conclusion you’ve suggested.

  15. Note: Statements from Bishop’s conferences on how A.L. is to be implemented and Papal remarks approving those statements don’t count.

  16. You should read the entirety of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia, but, as a summary, the chapter teaches that adultery can be “the most generous response which can be given to God”, and “what God himself is asking”, while “not yet fully the objective ideal” (303) (an idea that any saint or moral theologian would have considered blasphemy until very recently). Apparently, sometimes adulterers cannot “carry out the objective demands of the law” (295) (against the teaching of the Council of Trent, which condemns as heretical the idea that it is impossible for the justified mand to comply with God’s commandments, see Council of Trent, n. 102). All this because general rules, “cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations” (304) (against the existence of acts that are intrinsically disordered, which is a fundamental principal of Catholic morals, see, for example, Veritatis Splendor). Therefore, unrepentant adulterers can Receive holy Communion (footnote 336). Etcetera.
    Now, I certainly admit that all this was expressed in the usual confusing way, so, at first, it could be argued that he didn’t really mean all that or maybe that he wasn’t talking about adultery but about something else. But then, in case there were any doubts, the Pope himself sent a letter to the Argentinian Bishops saying that their practice of giving Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers “is very good and adequately expresses the sense of chapter VIII. There is no other interpretation” (my translation). Apart from that, he publicly congratulated the bishops of Malta and the Philippines who also give Communion to adulterers. And, if I remember correctly, in his own diocese of Rome the practice was also introduced.
    It is not a coincidence that, applying these new “moral principles”, previously unheard of, he has appointed new members to the Pontifical Academy for Life who support abortion, contraceptives, same-sex couples, etc. And that the German bishops are defending those same things based on Amoris Laetitia.
    As you can imagine, it gives me no joy to say these things, but the Church is in a dire situation. And most bishops keep silent. We must pray a lot for the Pope and for the Church.

  17. You say that “Note: Statements from Bishop’s conferences on how A.L. is to be implemented and Papal remarks approving those statements don’t count”

    Well, it might have been argued that they didn’t, but then the Pope ordered that his letter to the Argentinian bishops be published in the Actae Apostolicae Sedis, trying (and, in my opinion, failing) to turn it into magisterium.

  18. The statement “no one is condemned forever” is very different than the statement “no one is condemned for the remainder of his mortal life.” Forever by definition includes this life and the next. But Jorge Bergoglio is not known for precision in his speaking, and he uses ambiguity to sneak in heresy without appearing to be overtly heretical.

    Anyone who dies in a state of unrepentant mortal sin has condemned himself forever. This is a conscious effort on one’s own part to eternally reject the love of Jesus Christ. This isn’t the case of a drug addict or alcoholic who slips and falls, but picks himself up again. Nor is it the case of a person in an irregular marriage trying to live chastely in obedience to Matthew 19:1-10. Nor is it the case of a person working on anger management issues. Nor any of the other similar myriad of cases where we human beings have totally messed things up. The first step of AA comes to mind: “We admitted we were powerless over [whatever] – that our lives had become unmanageable.” David exemplified this un-manageability by his sex addiction (look at all his wives and concubines; and his son Solomon was worse). David sinned grievously by adultery and murder, and was a terrible father to Amon, Tamar and Absolam, yet he was a man after God’s own heart because he picked himself up after he screwed up, and then he tried to do right.

    But the person who willfully refuses to do that and then dies has condemned himself forever. That’s the point that Bergoglio’s imprecision obfuscates, and I think he does it deliberately.

  19. Thanks for the reply Bruno. Second comment first. You wrote:
    “Well, it might have been argued that they didn’t [count], but then the Pope ordered that his letter to the Argentinian bishops be published in the Actae Apostolicae Sedis, trying (and, in my opinion, failing) to turn it into magisterium.”

    I agree. Sticking with my earlier “chapter and verse” analogy. The statements from the Argentine (and Maltan too, I suppose) Bishops conferences are “commentary,” as are the statements of the Polish bishops and Archbishop Chaput. The Pope’s “I like your commentary” letter to the Argentine bishops is commentary on commentary. Publishing it in the AAS doesn’t make it “scripture.”

    And that is why, in part, it doesn’t count.

    The other reason it doesn’t count is the Pope has ways to teach authoritatively (magisterially?). It’s like Yoda says, there is no trying. What there is here is a suggestion of magisterium. But as far as I’m aware, I’m not obligated to follow a suggestion and neither is anyone else.

    And that’s the Achilles heel of trying to end run papal infallibility and authentic development of doctrine by suggesting (or letting synods do your suggesting for you) that something new is being taught that has never been taught before or that is in contradiction to previous doctrine: since you can’t teach it authoritatively, I’m not obliged to be bound by it.

    Obligatory caution and disclosure: I’m an ordinary reasonably well educated layman trying to understand the magisterial as an ordinary reasonably well educated layman ought. I am not a master catechesist or canon lawyer, nor do I have a degree in theology. Buyer beware, your mileage may vary, all claims subject to independent verification etc.

  20. I don’t think any of it is Magisterium, because the Magisterium cannot oppose itself (and it certainly cannot oppose acts of Magisterium of a higher order such as the Council of Trent, Veritatis Splendor, the basic principles of Catholic moral teaching, etc.). On top of that, this Pope’s habit of saying one thing and then the opposite, and his refusing to properly and rationally explain what he means, when asked by several cardinals (something previously unheard of) makes it impossible to clearly understand what he teaches, much less accept it as doctrine.

    On top of that, in my opinion, someone who seriously says that “time is greater than space” does not have the required intellectual capacity to teach anything. With all due respect, I think he is the product of 50 years of relativism and dissent in the Church, which have destroyed rational thought in a great part of the clergy.

    That said, I think it is becoming clear that the intention behind all this confusion is to change the faith and morals of the Church, in order to adapt them to politically-correct modern ideas on sex, divorce, the equal value of all religions, etc. May our Lady protect us.

  21. I think he’ll prove the Papal equivalent of Barak Obama: unable to achieve his goals by lasting means and destined to see his legacy undone by the same expediencies he was forced to rely upon.

  22. Thank y’all mucho and everyone reading and commenting.

    All of this is very instructive and enlightening. At the end of the day, and after all these comments, my confusion and these comments do show this: AL is at minimum ambiguous. This makes even more devastating Jorge’s failure to reply to the dubia from the Fall of 2016 from four Cardinals of the church, Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner, who told Jorge of the “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” inAmoris Laetitia.

    A real shepherd, a real servant of the servants of God would have either explained the ambiguity or, as some popes have in the past, admitted his error.

    Guy, Texas

    Ernst, luv it re BO

  23. The answer to uncertainty, confusion and disorientation is to choose to not be those things.

    Our tradition goes back almost 2000 years; not to 1965, and not to 2013, and sure as heck not to 2016.

  24. The harder task is to deal charitably and patiently with people who want to set some other date* (2013, 1965, 1563 even) as the only date that “really” counts.

    *As a medievalist by training if not by profession, I’m rather fond of 800, 962, 1077, and 1215.

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