Pope Francis’ progressive attitude toward non-Catholics and non-believers has shocked many followers of God since he took on the papal position. His inane desire to accept everyone for who they are, and not reject them for the label they carry, has drawn attention toward him in both positive and negative lights. He has openly declared that Catholic individuals who partake in a homosexual lifestyle are welcome in heaven and should be treated no different than their heterosexual counterparts. Now, in an announcement that has surprised many in the Catholic community, Pope Francis has declared that even Atheists are welcome into heaven, regardless of their non belief in god or religion as a whole.
Founder of La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, wrote an article for his newspaper, openly asking Pope Francis whether the Christian God would openly accept a non-believer into his heaven, according to the Independent. Rather than ignore the article written from the non-Roman Catholic newspaper founder, Pope Francis chose to respond with an open letter to the paper and its founder, explaining what he believes God would say if asked the same question.
Rather than respond defensively, Pope Francis chose to keep his tone friendly and open for further discussion, claiming that those that do not believe in God are simply ignoring their conscience and that disbelief in something does not discount its existence.
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
Pope Francis continued by stating that sin exists in all beliefs.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
Bustle summed up Pope Francis’ comments and stated that the existence of God is not a matter of belief or disbelief, but a matter of following one’s conscience.
“[Y]ou should at least follow your heart, if you’re not going to become Catholic, and that God will be cool with that.”
In other words, it seems as though Pope Francis is saying that one’s faith, or lack thereof, should not be the basis on which an individual is judged. Instead, his or her moral character, behaviors, and attitudes toward others, should be how an individual is judged. However, Pope Francis’ comments are not limited to religion alone, but also spread into an individual’s lifestyle.
Scalfari noted that Pope Francis’ comments further advance his position to unite everyone and open the world to real conversations that will hopefully lead to love and acceptance of all fellow men and women.
“… further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all…”
The dialogue Scalfari references goes back to July when Pope Francis openly accepted homosexuals into the Catholic church, advising that God loves and accepts them in the same manner as one with a devout heterosexual faith.
“If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”
His new remarks lend one to believe that it doesn’t matter whether an individual is a devout Catholic, homosexual, atheist, a member of ISIS, or any other living man or woman on the Earth. In the end, it all comes down to following one’s conscience. If God opens the doors of heaven to everyone, their earthly belief does not matter, he will still welcome them into his home.
Pope Francis has created an upheaval of the Catholic church since taking on the moniker. However, his openness to acceptance has opened dialogue that previously was suppressed. What are your thoughts on the Pope and his comments?