Pope Francis caused a stir this week, and we’re not just talking about his apparent public exorcism. During Wednesday Mass in Rome, he declared that everyone, including atheists, are redeemed through Jesus.
He placed an emphasis on “doing good,” and used a story from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus’ disciples were upset that an outsider to their group was performing good deeds.
“They complain, ‘If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.’ ” Pope Francis said. Jesus corrects them, saying: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.”
Francis explains that the disciples were “a little intolerant,” thinking that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.”
But, “This was wrong… Jesus broadens the horizon,” Pope Francis said, continuing, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Father James Martin explained Pope Francis’ words in an email to The Huffington Post:
“Pope Francis is saying, more clearly than ever before, that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for everyone. That’s always been a Christian belief. You can find St. Paul saying in the First Letter to Timothy that Jesus gave himself as a “ransom for all.” But rarely do you hear it said by Catholics so forcefully, and with such evident joy. And in this era of religious controversies, it’s a timely reminder that God cannot be confined to our narrow categories.”
Reddit, a social sharing platform with a vibrant atheist subculture, has seemingly responded to the homily favorably.
An article from The Guardian on the story was posted yesterday, and is today’s second most-shared piece.
“He’s making the humanistic aspect of Christianity more important than the dogma and whatnot though. That’s important,” said one user.
“As in [sic] atheist, I’m starting to kind of like this new Pope,” wrote another.
What do you think of Pope Francis’ homily? Is everyone, including atheists, redeemed through Christ?
[Image via: presidencia.gov.ar / Wikimedia Commons]