NEW YORK — During Thursday night’s Al Smith charity dinner in New York City, which featured speeches from both presidential candidates, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton told those gathered that she shares a belief with Roman Catholics that to “achieve salvation,” a person must have “both faith and good works.”
“I am not Catholic. I’m a Methodist. But one of the things we share is a belief that in order to achieve salvation, we need both faith and good works,” Clinton told those gathered.
She made her remarks while speaking about the legacy of the late Al Smith, a former Democratic governor of New York who was believed to be the nation’s first Roman Catholic nominee for president. He was defeated in the 1928 election by Republican Herbert Hoover after being opposed by some for his Catholicism.
“When I think about what Al Smith went through, it is important to just reflect how groundbreaking it was for him, a Catholic, to be my party’s nominee for president,” Clinton said.
“Don’t forget, school boards sent home letters with children saying that if Al Smith is elected president, you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible. Voters were told that he would annul Protestant marriages,” she continued. “And I saw a story recently that said people even claimed the Holland Tunnel was a secret passageway to connect Rome and America to help the pope rule our country.”
Clinton opined that such statements only cause division and hostility among the people.
“Those appeals to fear and division can cause us to treat each other as the other. Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to see each other, to respect each other, to listen to each other, and certainly a lot harder to love our neighbor as ourselves,” she said. “I believe the way we treat other is the highest expression of faith and of service.”
The Democratic nominee then stated that while she is not Catholic herself, she shares the Roman Catholic belief “that in order to achieve salvation, we need both faith and good works.”
“And you certainly don’t need to be Catholic to be inspired by the humility and heart of the holy father, Pope Francis,” Clinton said, drawing applause. “Or to embrace his message about rejecting a mindset of hostility, his calls to reduce inequality, his warnings about climate change, [and] his appeal that we build bridges, not walls.”
While dissent from the view exists among Roman Catholics, some teach that both faith and works are needed for salvation. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 2, paragraph 2010, “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”
It also repeats at paragraph 2027, “No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”
Christians, however, believe that one’s works are not a part of salvation, but rather the evidence of it.
Ephesians 2: 8-9 reads,”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
James 2:18 also states, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”