By Thomas Heinze
The Oregonian newspaper, April 4, 2005, quotes Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, one of the last to see Pope John Paul on the day of his death. The Cardinal said of the pope: "He was ready to trust himself to God. This is a man who had particular confidence in the Virgin Mary and felt that she was ready to welcome him and introduce him to God. I'm convinced that he has already met her. It is impossible to think otherwise."
Was the cardinal right? Did Pope John Paul trust Mary to bring him to God? He may have. When I lived in Italy the Italian papers would often quote the pope when he returned from a trip as saying that he had gone to whatever country he was visiting to kneel at the feet of an image of Mary that was famous in that country. Nevertheless, let's hope the Cardinal was wrong because God's word explains that only Jesus Christ, the Savior, can bring us to God. No one else can do it, not even the Virgin Mary.
Jesus explained in John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." If the pope lived and died believing that the Virgin Mary, instead of Jesus, would "introduce him to God," he had a very sad awakening.
Acts 4:12 puts it this way: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
In my book, Answers To My Catholic Friends, I point out that in the Bible, there is no example of anyone ever trying to get to God through Mary. Instead, God's word states clearly that there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (See 1 Timothy 2:5-6.)
Catholicism teaches that at death not even its popes will see God immediately. They must first suffer for their sins in purgatory. I once followed a priest who was guiding a group of children through the Church of Saint Peter in Rome to hear his explanation. When we arrived at the tomb of the last pope to die, Pope John XXIII, the guide asked the children to kneel and pray that the soul of this great pope might soon be liberated from purgatory.
Catholic tradition teaches that almost everyone at death must be "purged" in the flames of purgatory from certain sins that the blood of Christ did not remove. Jesus Christ, however, said, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish (John 10:28). The Savior saves. Any attempt to find salvation in Mary, works, or the ceremonies of a church, whether Catholic or Protestant is bound to fail.
I praise God that Catholics now have God's word in their own homes, and can read it themselves. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) They don't have to follow old traditions that can't even save their popes. God's word will point them to Jesus Christ who, "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him" (Hebrews 7:25).
We who know this must add our warning. How can we escape their blood on our hands, if we do not point them to Jesus Christ, the Savior who really saves.